“Transformed by the Spirit”is a new initiative from the office of the General Secretary of The American Baptist Churches USA to name “Adaptive Challenges” that face all churches in the ABC (and beyond) that minister in the 21st century. An adaptive challenge is “a ministry challenge that we are currently facing that we do not presently have an answer for, but must be addressed if we are to live into the future God has for us?”
Some background on this initiative–from Rev Roy Medley, General Secretary, and Rev. Dr. Dwight Stinnett, (Taken from ABC-USA Website):
American Baptist churches are in the midst of significant change. Evidences of this are everywhere. Dramatic demographic shifts are impacting almost all of our congregations. Our current membership is aging while growing and diverse populations in the communities we seek to serve are getting younger. Declining revenues continue to impact our ability to sustain programs or maintain staff in many levels and settings while, paradoxically, we are surrounded by resources and massive transfers of wealth. Newly arriving immigrant communities are enriching our neighborhoods and congregations, presenting great opportunities, and challenging our ability to reach out across cultural and ethnic divides. Recent controversies have worked to divide us from one another. Mistrust and criticism that have surfaced in many parts of our culture make it more difficult for us to work together. Yet avenues for communication are proliferating, people are seeking community and are eager to participate in endeavors that make a difference.
In the midst of these realities, we believe that . . .
The living Spirit of Christ is at work among us in the midst of these changes. God has not abandoned us. The Spirit, we believe, is actually using many of these disruptions to invite us to recover our heritage as Baptists. This includes reclaiming our posture of living as a people of faith who are on a journey of seeking to participate in God’s mission in the world, wherever that mission takes us. Our Baptist story informs us about how to serve in the midst of brokenness in the world, how to respond to those on the margins of society, and how to bear faithful witness to our risen Lord in the midst of confusion or despair.
In order to reclaim this heritage, we understand that . . .
Together we need to address these challenges. Business as usual is no longer possible if we are to live into the future that God has for us. Just trying harder to make existing programs work is not a sufficient solution. As important as structural changes are, they will not provide us with the lift we need. There are deeper challenges that need to be addressed which will take us into the very habits, values, and practices that shape us as Baptists. Engaging these is what we understand to be adaptive work—meaning that we are in need of re-learning what it means to be a people of faith being led by the Spirit of Christ in this new context in which we find ourselves today. The definition of an adaptive challenge is as follows: What ministry challenges are we currently facing, for which we do not presently have an answer, but which must be addressed if we are to live into the future God has for us?
Lakeview Baptist Church is going to participate in this initiative. There will be a gathering held at Lakeview Baptist Church on Saturday, December 10 from 9-11am to participate in naming adaptive challenges that we face. This will be an important conversation to have on a local level as we discern the challenges that we face as we minister to the Battle Creek Community. The point of this gathering is not to discover solutions, but only to name the challenges at hand. In the months ahead, we will work towards discovering solutions towards the challenges that we name at this meeting.
This is an open invitation to all members and regular attenders of Lakeview Baptist Church. Please attend, if you are able.