12 November 2008

neo-baptist blog

[One of our regular readers pointed me to http://neobaptist.com/about/, and I thought it was worth pasting the intro blurb to this blog....]

Welcome to neo-baptist. This was originally a place of collective wisdom for Baptist types. It turns out that Baptist types don’t really blog so now this blog is for all types of Christians engaged in leadership of a local church, hip cool emergent pub gathering, or any other format of Christian community.

This blog is based in Australia but welcomes participation from around the world. Although there are differences between Baptists and other types there is much in common.
The word ‘neo’ can be understood in a few ways. The meaning intended for this blog is ‘new’. The Baptist church in Australia [and in other countries] occupies the middle ground of Protestantism between the liturgical traditions to the left and the Pentecostal traditions to the right, or on another linear scale the liberal to the left and the redneck to the right [although there are plenty of hardline conservative baptist churches within the State unions].

The most hardline conservative baptists have made life easier for the rest of us by congregating in their own independently aligned churches, replete with their KJV’s and 3-piece suits. There is plenty of variety within union affiliated Baptist churches. Having said that I observe that there is such a thing as a ‘typical suburban’ Baptist church, or any other denomination for that matter other than the church of Rome which has rock solid branding.

Aside from the large flagship mega-churches, and the eclectic charismatic Baptist churches, there is a fairly large middle ground. The churches that are found within this grouping have much in common.

Right now many pastors and leaders in churches are wrestling with some of the key challenges which face the churches. Our congregations straddle a number of key generations [and the cultural assumptions that come with each era], and we straddle the great modernist/postmodern divide. Many churches are dwindling due to an ageing congregation that is not being replenished by new blood. We are wrestling with proposed changes to the way we do church government, ordination etc. Many of us are wrestling with the challenges and critique thrown up by the ‘emerging church’ movement.

In my view, the churches that are thriving are the ones who are prepared to be ‘neo’ where required. Progressive Baptists are ’small-b’ baptists. I count myself as one of them. We prefer to see our identity primarily as Christians. We are evangelical by persuasion, and we can be described as baptist in that we identify with those distinctives [which we share in common with others] and obviously because we find ourselves either belonging to or ministering in a Baptist church. Leaders in other denominations share this desire to be identified in Christ alone.

Just what we are to be ‘neo’ about is up for grabs. This blog is a place where we can discuss these challenges and hopefully grow and learn together. I intend this blog to have free posting, unless of course it is abused either by spammers or people who want to be abusive. At that point it may have to move to regulated posting or registered members to the blog. Hopefully it can work without resorting to those control levels.

Let’s see where our collective wisdom can take us. Feel free to leave your thoughts.