We had a good meeting yesterday with a full and frank exchange of views on issues relating to the Assembly. More will be said about that in due course.
I was I think on reflection fairly called to account for expecting too much of David and Jonathan. So I apologise (publicly as my whinge was public) to them for being unfair. I think they have an almost impossible job balancing all the competing demands and expectations surrounding the Assembly. So let's pray for them and their respective teams.
Andy's comment to yesterday's post is interesting. I think we have three sessions at the assembly that could be described as business - the BUGB and BMS AGMs and the public resolutions session. Now these might not be what Andy means by deliberation but I can't see there being a huge vote among delegates for more of the same. indeed, I spoke to a number of this year's delegates who were asking for less of the same. 'Why can't we have one morning devoted to the AGMs,' said one mate; 'two short ones with coffee in the middle.'
I think this comment and Andy's throws up the need for a debate about what the Assembly is for. At the moment only a tiny proportion of Baptists come - 2,000 out of our 200,000 (not sure about that last figure; no doubt someone will correct me). Given the venues and style of assembly we hold, only a small proportion can come. So that does raise questions about the kind of deliberation we could undertake at an Assembly and what its status would be among the majority of baptists not present to deliberate.
I have long thought the public resolutions session is an exercise in motherhood and apple pie and that no one except the tiny proportion of attendees who take part actually think what we're talking about matters or will change anything. Editors around the country are not holding the front page ahead of Baptists expressing their view on the use of 'mosquitoes' to disperse young people!
So, I'm not sure what kind of deliberation we would sensibly undertake. But let's talk about it.
I think there is probably some value in encouraging the troops for another year. I can only speak about Prism in this regard but I reckon those who came to this year's programme were encouraged to think about their Baptist identity - loosely hung on the five core values - and challenged to think about how knowing who they are will help them to live as disciples of Jesus in their day-to-day contexts. I don't think that's a bad aim and if the outcome is that more churches grasp what it is to be missional communities, then that's a result.
There are limits to what can be achieved in a weekend (does that mean we should have a debate about the length of the gathering), so we need to cut our cloth accordingly and focus on the things that really matter. So, what are they?