Noticing the Deep Questions
Tas Baptist’s Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, has had some time out to ponder and reflect from a distance. It’s amazing what a trip beyond Tasmania’s shores can do to shift your perspective!
We are well and truly into 2023. Kids are back at school, church programs get underway, and life returns to its familiar rhythm. Jenny and I have just returned from a time in Spain to be with our daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, AJ, on the birth of their daughter, Koa.
Spain, like Australia, is very secular. This got me wondering what God thinks about all these people going about their lives, without giving much thought to the deep and essential questions of life. The question was heightened by the fact that Alice and AJ are in Spain working with others in bring the good news of Jesus to Spaniards.
My thinking has remained with me as I return to Tasmania.
THE CHURCH: From Spain, to Tasmania, to Marrawah!
Last Sunday I was with the Marrawah church as they celebrated their final church service. It was a day of celebration and sadness. As I looked at the pictures of the past, spoke with people, and heard their shared memories, it was clear that over the years God has been at work in special ways.
But times change, and the church as it was, is no longer viable. Marrawah is a little picture of the church in Australia and Spain. It is no longer the centre of our communities like it was. However, that does not mean it is the end of the church. Rather, it is the end of a certain form of church that worked well for a season, and needs to adjust for a changing world.
God has given everything needed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But because the world keeps changing, the church needs to be constantly renewing itself. As Germain theologian Helmut Thielicke put it,
The gospel must be preached afresh and told in new ways to each generation, since every generation has its own unique questions. The gospel must constantly be forwarded to a new address, because the recipient is repeatedly changing his place of address.
Fresh wind, B L O W
On the day of Pentecost God did a new thing and the church was born. Whenever we celebrate that day, it is a reminder of the need for constant renewal. A quick survey of church history reveals just that. The Holy Spirit is at work renewing the church from age to age, enabling and equipping it to be the church of its particular age. May it be so here in Tasmania.
Returning home, this is my prayer for Tasmanian Baptists, and I encourage it to be yours too: that God would blow a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit through us, that we might be vibrant churches with a revitalised theology finely attuned by the Holy Spirit to the changing needs of a changing world.
Let me encourage you to join me in praying this prayer.
FIND OUT MORE about the Mission and Leadership Development Team and how they can support you and your Tasmanian Baptist church.
God and Life in Tasmania