Your reflections on the Assembly

FOR the first time this year, the YBA Team invited a group of people to present their reflections on the day - and we were delighted with their response. A massive thank you to our reporting team - Chris Bishop, Terry Foers, Denise Lancaster, Ruth Mark, Adam Momcilovic and Anna Spiegel.

“FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTRE – Discipleship in the Church Today”

Reflections by Denise Lancaster, pastor at Mexborough Baptist Church

Denise LancasterTHE Well was an impressive venue; the rooms where the seminars were held were big enough so that there was no need to pre-book the ones you wanted to attend.
The coffee lounge was welcoming and bright, and a great space for networking. There was a good buzz of conversation as people connected again with familiar faces from other churches.
However, I was struck by the fact that we were an overwhelmingly old body of people - there were very few younger people, i.e. under 50, and no children.  And the number of people attending the assembly seems to me to be dwindling; I reckon the number there on Saturday equated to one person per Yorkshire Baptist Church.  Where was everybody? You missed a wonderful day.
The assembly booklet, which was already on the seats, was lovely and colourful, with an excellent choice of font and included everything we needed for the day, including a label to write our names on. It was also good that it included a list of ministerial "comers and goers"  which saved time in the meeting.
The opening song "We welcome you with praise" set the tone for the day.  It was very encouraging to hear the exciting stories of theological study and ministerial training now being available in Yorkshire, good things happening through Home Mission, churches beginning, growing and extending their buildings, and women being empowered through the Esther Collective.
Roy Searle, Assembly speaker, was brilliant as usual. His message was challenging and encouraging, very clear about what it is to be a disciple of Jesus and very practical about the ways in which we can deepen our spirituality and live out our discipleship.
The seminars also encouraged us that discipleship and discipling are not difficult as long as we are prepared to share our lives with the people God puts us with.
And yes, I will mention it, even the AGM wasn't boring!

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Observations by Ruth Mark, of Chapel Allerton Baptist Church, Leeds

Ruth MarkSITTING at the back of The Well church was encouraging as it filled with people anticipating an informative and inspiring day together.  However, I was also struck by the demographic of the audience who, for the most part, were older than the congregation of the church I attend.  I wondered why that was and whether we need to re-think how we structure the conference in order to attract younger people.
The worship began by reminding us that 'We are here for You' – Christ is the reason we gather together and we desire to live our lives in a way that authentically reflects Him.  In response to that desire Roy Searle gently challenged us that we need to rediscover the DNA of our Baptist spirituality a) Love of God  b) Love of the Gospel  c) Service in His Kingdom. 
'Church' is a verb, it's a group of people on the move with Jesus, going wherever Jesus leads them. Jesus was never static – neither should we be!  Jesus created a 'community of belonging' that was ragged around the edges and modelled the complementary elements of discipleship and mission.  In Jesus' community, belonging came before changes in belief and behaviour and I was challenged by the exhortation to live 'how He would live my life if Jesus were me'.
The seminars gave us opportunity to think through how we develop those twin elements of discipleship and mission in the church, with our children and young people.  I would like to have explored more deeply how we work this out during the week as well as in our Sunday services.  I therefore wondered if it might be helpful to have longer seminars where we only attend one of the options but where we can look at the topic in more depth rather than having to finish just as the discussion gets interesting!
To answer Graham's final questions before we parted “Was that inspiring?  Was that challenging?” I can honestly answer “Yes”!
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Reflections by Chris Bishop, of Wetherby Baptist Church and a member of the YBA Executive

Chris Bishop'MOVEMENT' and 'Margins' are two words have been prominent in my mind since last Saturday. Both words link with the idea of Church being “people on the move with Jesus, going wherever he leads them”, which Roy Searle quoted in his excellent opening session.
He reminded us that disciple means ‘apprentice, follower’ - someone who works alongside a more experienced person, imitating and learning from them. This sense of travelling also implies going to places we’ve not been before - out to the margins - which can be quite scary, at least initially.
After Roy’s comprehensive (and lavishly illustrated) talk, the YBA AGM might have been a let-down, but it certainly wasn’t. In fact, it was very encouraging and re-inforced the earlier themes.
St Barnabas Theological Centre, churches developing new ways of reaching their communities and exploring new ways of ‘being church’, and the Esther Collective were a few of the exciting stories we heard about what’s happening around our Association. Even the financial report was inspiring (and you can’t often say that!), with the news that we plan to run a deficit budget for the next five years to enable us to finance new mission opportunities.
Most of the stories involved going beyond our church walls and out to the margins, just as Jesus did with his disciples. Much of this isn’t about big new ideas, but about finding ways to build authentic friendships with people, so that we can demonstrate the love of Jesus to them by who we are.
How do we keep on the move with Jesus? One speaker suggested we ask ourselves two questions: “What do we already have?” and “What is the next step?” I've come away from the Assembly encouraged to find answers to both.

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Reflections by Terry Foers, church secretary at Barnsley Baptist Church

Terry FoersI HAVE attended many Christian conferences as a child, young adult and with my family.
When attending a conference there is an expectation that attendees of all age groups leave with a sense of having discovered something new to apply in one’s own situation. 
The YBA Assemblies I have attended in the past I have felt have fallen far short of providing that inspiration, particularly for those working with younger people. A disappointment for many I have spoken to.
The assemblies being attended by, in the main, senior citizens must tell us something!
This year I thought twice about attending and checked the programme before signing up. I was intrigued by what our speaker Revd Roy Searle would have to say and by the subject of the seminars.
The talk Roy gave on “developing healthy and effective forms of discipleship” was really helpful and challenging. We have to move out of the comfort of our buildings to have a chance of reaching people for the Kingdom. I am sure it will be a lasting resource for many churches particularly if it was recorded in some way and, the presentation made available to everyone.
The seminars I attended were: - “Discipling children” and “Discipling in the local church”. The first was a little disappointing as there was constant reference to books rather than passing on first hand experiences with different ways of working, but nevertheless with good content.  The second was excellent. Again there would be added value for everyone if the resource information was captured and made available.I think the in phrase is – “it’s time to think outside the box”, both in our churches and in the content of the Assembly.
Roy referred several times to the Emmaus Road encounter where Jesus walked alongside those that were troubled, in order to meet their need.
A good day well spent!  

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Reflections by Anna Spiegel, chaplain at Leeds & Leeds Beckett University, and church worker at Blenheim Baptist Church in Leeds.

Ann SpiegelI MOVED to Leeds four years ago from the Bible Belt in the US: Dallas, Texas, where small churches have 5,000 members and there isn't a person around who isn't familiar with most Bible stories. The state of the church in Britain has continued to surprise me and there are definitely days when I wonder what kind of impact I'm making here, what kind of impact any of us are making as we share Jesus with our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends. So I arrived at Saturday's assembly half expecting to be reminded of a church in decline, but I left encouraged and renewed. 
We heard stories all day of the exciting ways God is moving in our region. We were reminded by Roy Searle to cling to our Baptist DNA; to love God, to love His Word, and to serve His Kingdom. He challenged us to move beyond our preconceived notions and our tightly-held traditions into practical, real, and authentic discipleship in a world that is hungry and desperate for the hope of Christ, whether or not they're aware of it. We listened to fantastic reports of answered prayer and God blowing away our measly expectations. There is clearly more to be done, but God is doing "immeasurably more" among us and it's beautiful to hear.
As perhaps the youngest person at the Assembly, I could have been discouraged that more of my peers weren't in attendance. But in truth, I felt nothing but grateful for the "committed faithful," for those whose legacy of faith has led us for so many years. Watching the older generations continue forward in their commitment to God's Kingdom encourages me to press on. As we stood shoulder to shoulder and sang one of my favourite hymns, I was overcome by emotion as the Lord reminded me to "ponder anew what the Almighty can do." The Almighty is desperate for every single person to know Him and He invites those of us who believe to daily join Him, to come and see that He is good. The day was full of "pondering anew" and I'm certain that everyone walked away with a desire within their own ministry to climb on board what God is doing right here and right now in this part of the country. 
As we drove back to Leeds, we talked nonstop about the day, about what we'd been struck by and who we'd been impressed by or excited to meet. For me, a day to worship together and hear reports of God's overwhelming faithfulness was a salve to my weary soul. To be reminded of the importance of pressing on toward the goal and to consider how we might better share the incredible power of the Gospel with those we love and care about came at the perfect time because God is good. All the time.  What a privilege to be a part of God's ministry in Yorkshire! #thankful

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Reflections by Adam Momcilovic, of Dewsbury Baptist Church

Adam MomcilovicWE went to the YBA Assembly on Discipleship to find out how it might impact on our local church in Dewsbury. Here are some of my reflections.

  • Turn a problem upside down and find an opportunity instead.
  • Mission is imperative – go into the community to spread the word.
  • Get alongside people and see how God is working in their lives.

I found it very moving when Roy Searle told us a story about his daughter when she was about two. They had gone to visit his mother and she had got new carpets. Jessica, his daughter asked if she could have a drink of orange juice and Roy’s mum said she could go into the kitchen and get it out of the fridge and pour her own. She hurriedly went off and they listened to see if they heard any breaking sounds from the kitchen. There were none and in due time little Jessica came cavorting back into the room all excited at being allowed to get her own drink. Unfortunately, she was so overjoyed at her success in pouring a glass of orange juice that as she came in it spilled and overflowed all over the new carpet. Roy’s mum was not angry but happy with the infectious joy of Jessica.
If we are overflowing with the love and infectious joy of God people catch the overflow.
We attended stimulating seminars in the afternoon which were also food for thought.
One I attended was “Discipling in the local church”. We need to journey with people like on the Emmaus road; to come alongside people who are unchurched from darkness into light. Creating space for what God wants to do.
A most heart-lifting and inspiring assembly. Thank you to all who organised the day. It was well worth it at The Well.

Read the full reports on the following links -

Roy Searle's talk

Stories at the AGM

Financial matters and the afternoon session

YBA Assembly 2016 Photo Album

 

 

 


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Webpage icon Justice in the spotlight
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Webpage icon Generosity in times of great challenge
Webpage icon Reflections on the Sam Sharpe Lecture
Webpage icon The YBA Assembly - Part Three
Webpage icon The YBA Assembly - Part Two
Webpage icon The YBA Assembly 2016 - Part One