Turn your full stops into commas! You might be hearing that said around our movement from the volunteers and leaders who joined us at Unexpected: Unexpected leadership for unexpected times on Saturday May 14th. Rev Dr Brian Harris, joined us from Perth, and started the day with an encouraging challenge. He asked us to consider the moments in our lives, or the seasons in our church life, that felt like full stops, as commas. How was God wanting to invite us as leaders and church communities to move forward, despite the challenges we may have been through? He continued the first session with a useful ‘theological architecture’ for navigating the coming seasons.
Just as it was last year, a highlight of the day was our Godx session. We heard 5 short talks from local leaders, Mary Ackers (Salisbury Baptist and Baptist Churches), Mang Bawi (Adelaide Chin Christian Church), Sam Gharwami (Hills Baptist), Miranda Dixon (Unley Park Baptist), and Dale Green (Edwardstown Baptist). The talks ranged from insightful challenges to invest in the next generation, and the challenges of listening well to different cultural backgrounds, to creative expression through first-person narrative and spoken word. We have amazing talent across our movement!
Electives were a great opportunity to have conversations and hear thoughtful practitioners from across our movement speak about a wide range of topics, including two options for board members and governance teams to upskill and think about the changing climate of compliance and mission opportunity. There were also opportunities to discuss discipleship, evangelism, youth and kids ministry, digital communications, and advocacy on justice issues.
Brian Harris focussed the last session on taking ourselves seriously as leaders and developing a growth mindset ready for the challenges and changes in front of us. The kind of leaders that we need in the future are not only the heroic leaders we have celebrated in the past. As Brian quoted: After all, leading loudly and super confidently turns out to be a really bad idea if you are leading in the wrong direction. Leadership in the future requires a wider variety of leadership voices and shapes. Our churches need all types of leaders, we need you. Brian finished by encouraging us to take our being Baptist seriously as a value system that will help us into the future. We thank Brian for his perceptive and encouraging talks.
Our day also included worship in song, led by a team from King’s Baptist. King’s were exceptional hosts, alongside Milk & Honey café who made all our coffee and food for the day. We are very thankful for the generous support from King’s to make their excellent facility available to us, as well as all their volunteers and staff who contributed in the lead-up and on the day.
An important moment of the day was when we paused to pray together. We wrote down our unexpected prayers. We prayed big prayers for the people and hopes we have. We prayed for Gospel impact, generational transformation, and for peace in our world. What is your unexpected prayer? A prayer that if it happened you could say, ‘well that was unexpected?’
Already, we are hearing about transformational moments for leaders and encouragement for church leadership teams and ministry leaders as we figure out a way forward. Before us is a challenging but hopeful path to being the church we need to become for the future. Are we making the necessary changes in our own leadership practice, in our church cultures and in our missional engagement to lead into the unexpected times ahead?