Pastor's Desk - After Assembly

Mar 05, 2023

Lenten greetings friends

The recent 173rd Assembly of the Jamaica Baptist Union started at the beginning of lent, and ended five days later. Lent is a significant period for the Christian community. It’s a period of self-denial, of self-suffering, and self-surrender. It’s a period when disciples seriously consider the role that
sin, temptation and sacrifice play in their lives. It’s a time to be in solidarity with Jesus remembering the forty days he spent being tempted by the devil. Different believers may view this period differently, but what cannot be missed or should not be overlooked is the need to change. The need to
repent of our sins before God. The need to change to a life of simplicity, self-sacrifice and self-surrender to God. 

The big question then for us is, what does this have to do with the JBU Assembly?

Its not so much the Assembly but for all of us Baptist.

There is the need for all of us to change.

Assembly Highlights

When we think about where we are as Baptists today, as indicated by the report of the General Secretary to the Assembly, there is not much to be proud about. Yes, we are grateful that we have confirmed the first female General Secretary in the office, perhaps overdue, and yes, we thank God for the continued daily work of the churches, whose presence and sacrificial ministry impact even in a small way the moral life of the community.

Otherwise, the picture is of a church in stagnation or decline. This is marked by decreasing membership; aging population, increased number of pastorless circuits, low enrolment of ministers in training (3), a declining youth population, and five ministers resigning without another ministerial destination.
There is no doubt that the social environment in which we do ministry has changed. Our mainline churches are not as robust in growth as they were in the past. Furthermore, the number of those persons having no church affiliation is also increasing, but there are people being added to the kingdom of God, even if not in our churches. How can the churches in the JBU in general and the Barbican Baptist Church in particular reach those with no church connection?

A Call to Rethink

This clearly calls for a change in the way we do ministry. And yet it is also true that before we consider changing the way we do ministry we need to change the way we think and the way we are. Have we become more dependent on our history, our past successes and on our name as Baptists? Have we become complacent, relying on old traditional, well used but ineffective methods of evangelism? Have we become more dependent on strategies and techniques than we are on God?

This for me is the bottom-line of ministry. Whose ministry are we engaged in and how must we change so that we can effect God’s ministry appropriately?

Call to Repent

This Lenten season provides an excellent opportunity for the church to examine herself critically. It affords the chance for the church to truly repent of her self-centeredness, her arrogance and lack of love for God’s people. The church has become the ‘messiah’ of the poor, the marginalized and those needing material advancement. So she caters to the material needs of people without seeing them as whole persons who need to be saved completely and become members of the family of God.

It is a time for the church to repent, of her failure to love people for themselves, and not as recipients of the services they offer, whether, education, health, skills training or shelter. The church must not only heal people of their diseases, disabilities, but also lead them to experience forgiveness of their sins, a task which only Jesus can perform.

I pray that together God will challenge us as church to do what matters to God, so that the earth can be filled with His glory as the waters cover the sea. The Assembly has ended like the transfiguration of Jesus, but the work has just begun.