Throughout the Bible there is a concept of God using messengers to communicate with his own people and others. Whilst he speaks directly to key individuals, those individuals are regularly used to convey the message to a larger audience, like Moses and Jonah. As the New Testament unfolds, John the Baptist’s message of repentance prepares the way for Jesus. Progressing through the New Testament, we encounter a variety of messengers who take messages between churches. People like Paul, Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Tychicus and many others. In Acts 15, the church in Antioch selects some messengers to go to Jerusalem to explore the key question of gentile conversion. By the end of the council, the church in Jerusalem selects Judas and Silas as messengers who travel to other churches, telling them what has been agreed.
This year at our Assembly, October 26-27, we are asking churches to think of the people they send as messengers rather than delegates! People whose primary role will be to share an encouragement, challenge, story or opportunity that flows from the ministry of your local church. Messengers who can also return to your church with news, challenge and opportunities that have been discovered during our time together.
Each church will be given the opportunity to share a key message via a 1 minute video, recorded on a phone and uploaded on our YouTube channel. Churches can also choose to write a letter, or tweet a message on social media to Assembly. Every messenger will be given a chance to share key stories and challenges from their local church with other messengers.
We also want to ensure that we begin to hear some younger voices at Assembly. To encourage this we have decided that for this year, church messengers under the age of 30 may attend for free. We hope this will encourage many churches to entrust the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the local church to one younger adult among their team of messengers.
I pray that in recapturing this Baptist tradition of sending messengers to meet one another, we might increase our vision for being intentionally relational, and that each of our churches will be encouraged by the stories we hear of God at work in our nation.