What is God saying to you and to others? What will future ministry and mission look like? What things need to remain the same? What changes do we need to embrace? In 2020 we invited New Zealand Baptists to reflect upon these questions in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic and to share their thoughts on the future. We’re now reproducing these reflections here for all to see and be inspired by!
COVID-19 has been a disruption. A time to grieve and lament together as we see a world writhing in the pain created by the illness, death and economic hardship this pandemic has wrought. Moments to rejoice in deeper relationships with those on our fringes, the chance to share the gospel in fresh ways and to see God’s Word speak clearly into the uncertainty felt across our communities.
Reflecting on God’s lead in my own life during this past year, disruption seems to have been a recurring theme. The opportunity to spend time at Ihumātao with some wonderful Māori Christian leaders, disrupting my understanding of what church can look like. A summer spent with our Baptist whānau in Tāmaki-Nui-a Rua (Dannevirke), disrupting my urban-centric perspectives of our Union. A lockdown spent at significant distance from my current church community in Māngere due to a family bereavement, disrupting my practical urges to help. Disruptions that have forced me to ‘sit still and listen’, both to God and to those he has surrounded me with.
Psalm 46 and Micah 6 have each spoken to me in these times. The former reminds me to ‘be still and know’ God and his ultimate victory, even in the midst of the anger and grief that emerges during these seasons of ‘kingdoms falling’ and the ‘earth melting’. The latter calls me to a life of mercy, justice and humility. Not a life chasing edgy protest t-shirts or hashtagged Instagram posts that simply imagine justice, but a heart quietly convicted to take action in response to the redeeming work of Christ. A life redeemed by God from sinful oppression, just as Israel was redeemed from Egyptian slavery, that it might demonstrate what it is to live justly before God.
As our churches face the disruptions to our mindsets and communities that are associated with the fight against systemic racism, widespread unemployment and an ongoing health threat, it is my prayer that we would ‘be still and know’ God’s sovereignty, hearing his Word call us to obediently seek justice for our neighbours in new and radical ways.
Contributor: Jonathan Edmeades, Carey Baptist College Pastoral Leadership student
Read other reflections on the future of ministry and mission by New Zealand Baptists:
Fiona Beals; Grant Harris; Kate Dunstan-Brown; Chris Chamberlain; Helen Geddes; Cliff Thompson; Jamie Li; Dave Tims; Donna Denmead; Richardson Lau; Christine Saywell; Mike Crudge