- Firstly, I too wish to express my disappointment at the 'bookshop' at assembly. What a load of claptrap. To find Wayne Grudem sitting on the shelves at our annual gathering whilst the union is trying to affirm women in ministry seems to send mixed messages to me. Are we encouraging our ministers in particular, and our churches in general, to read theology, to read about their baptist history, to read the work their baptist colleagues are writing? Or are we just wheeling out the crowd pleasing rubbish that doesn't really challenge anyone to think too hard about anything?
- I know it's going to be unpopular, but what's the deal with Tony Campolo? He was a stand up comedian at best. And he wasn't funny to anyone under the age of 30. Seriously, don't make the point in one breath that more young people should come to assembly, and those young people should share the main services, and then in the next breath invite Tony Campolo to speak. Perhaps the reason younger people (young ministers especially) aren't interested in assembly is because we're still interested in the bible and in theology, and it seems to me that assembly doesn't seem too worried about engaging with that. Ironically, I think it was Tony Campolo that decided it was ludicrous for the young people to have a separate meeting. Hilarious.
- It gets my back up when people complain about the futures process. Mainly because I've been following it quite closely and so it's become an issue that's quite close to my heart. I know I'm privileged to have access to a computer, and being in my 20s means that I can use all the technology needed to access as much information as is out there. And I get that some people feel that it's not that easy for them or their churches to get the information. The thing is, like many others, I'm the minister of an older congregation, many of whom are not on the internet and don't have computers. And yet my congregation know what's going on with the Union; they know about the deficit, they know there's discussions going on about the reshaping of the Union, they know that associations are going to look different soon, they know that Didcot will be shrinking, they know Home Mission grants will be changing. They know all this, not because of the internet, not because of the (excellent) beyond 400 blog, not because of Phil Jump's regular emailed updates and prayer calls, and not because the BUGB website has published all the papers and conversations on their website (though all of these things are helpful, and have been made available to them). They know what's going on because I talk about it. All the time. I tell them where things are and where things are going. I let them know what I've heard and what's being said. And I ask them what they think. Because if I'm talking to them about it, when they surveys come round, we can fill them in, together, and have some sort of consensus about what we think about all of this as a church. I can't help but feel if a church doesn't know what's going on, it's more of a reflection on the minister, rather than the futures group.
- Not a big fan of the day conferences. Not because the one I went to wasn't engaging and interesting (it really was - the Whitley lecture was as excellent as always), but because it meant there was a lack of space. There wasn't time for conversation with others. Between Saturday being taken up by your choice of conference, and finishing on Sunday evening rather than Monday morning, it felt like there wasn't a lot of time to reflect on what was being said/heard. I think I'd prefer to go with the shorter and more varied options, allowing people to dip in and out during the day.
- The lack of time to converse meant that I actually really appreciated the tweeting. It meant I was able to hear the opinions and thoughts of people in real time, who were sitting on the other side of the room. If we're going to pack that much into the weekend, I think it might be wise to keep some kind of virtual conversation going. However, I would prefer it if we didn't have to substitute real conversation with tweeting. Given the choice, I think I'd rather have the have the space to talk to other people in reality, rather than tweeting.
- I think on paper London was a really good idea, but in practice it was a bit of a disaster. It was way out of our price range as a church, which meant we had to stay in a youth hostel. It was pretty disgusting, but we took the hit because we feel it's really important for the church to be represented at assembly. I got slightly annoyed at people talking about churches not coming to assembly, when it was a massive sacrifice for smaller churches north of Birmingham to be there. Travel was expensive, accommodation was expensive, food was expensive. And it was faaaaar. 2 hours from Rossendale to Tamworth (to drop the dog at the in-laws), 3 hours from Tamworth to London. Another hour from the station to where we were staying. I was tired before we'd even started the Assembly! Some of the other guys from the valley flew. Our budget didn't stretch to that. I don't know if there were people there who came from further north than East Lancs, but if they did, kudos to them, cause I'm not going again if it's in London.
- Aradhna was awesome. I'm so impressed that assembly had them. More of that. I would have preferred that to Noel Robinson and his band. The band were great, but I'd like to see us stretch ourselves to learn new things and open ourselves to new experiences more often, rather than singing the same songs ad infinitum. And seriously, what's the thing with repeating lines and choruses of songs for ever and ever amen? It doesn't get more holy the more you sing it. You wanna know what'll get the youth interested? Aradhna. Something that's a bit different. Music that's an experience. We're a generation looking for spirituality, we're a generation that travels, and wants a connection with different cultures. More of that please.
- This was the last George Beasley Murray lecture. I have nothing to say except how sad that it. And I really, truly hope that it'll be replaced by something equally as engaging and informative, which still gives voice to our brightest and best Baptist theologians.
Anyway, I think that's quite enough of that. I can only hope that after sitting through an entire session of people saying there weren't any young people present, and we need to hear the voices of the under 30's (must admit that was a little disenfranchising), that we'll actually do something about that, and some people will start listening to those of us in the union who are screaming at the top of our lungs.