Deep Thought March 2023
Deep Thought – A bi-monthly feature in reCharge
Being Family Together
Dr Christa L. McKirland is a lecturer at Carey Baptist College, Auckland, and spoke at the recent Tasmanian Baptist Pastors’ Muster in Hobart.
In the past few weeks, I’ve had the joy and privilege of speaking at three different conferences across this amazing country. The content of those talks was also hard-hitting and in many ways, controversial.
Having never visited Australia before, I wasn’t sure how those talks were going to land, but as I prepare for my flight home to Aotearoa with my family, I returned encouraged.
Faith and passion
Starting at the No Limits conference hosted by Baptist Women of the Pacific, I had a chance to hang out and learn from sisters from all over this hemisphere. Intentionally hosted in Brisbane, the only state where Baptists don’t ordain women, I was inspired by the faith and passion of women who are hungry for depth in our teaching and to live without limits, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This was a sacred space and deeply encouraged me.
I was inspired by the faith and passion of women who are hungry for depth in our teaching
My family and I next travelled to Melbourne, and then on to Tassie, where I had a chance to speak on women’s roles in the church, as well as ways to engage the LGBTQIA+ community with a heart toward unity within our diversity of views.
What struck me, especially with the amount of discussion time we had at the two-day Muster in Tassie, was how important these conversations are to have—out loud, and with those who disagree with each other.
I believe we are part of the church because of our belief in the resurrection of the God-human, Jesus Christ. But beyond that, our being in the same family is not based on our same beliefs. Instead, it is based on our sharing the same Spirit of adoption—the Spirit of adoption given to us because of the death and resurrection of our firstborn brother Jesus.
However, resisting echo-chambers is a massive challenge in our day. It would be much easier to stick with people who agree with us. With those who hold to the same interpretations of Scripture, who vote the way we do, and who fear the same things we do. But that is not what it means to be the church.
The church is the “gift of the given other” (to quote Tom Greggs from his Dogmatic Ecclesiology). How we treat the gift of the given other is a testament to the Gospel. And I truly felt like we experienced a taste of valuing that gift at these two conferences. The bravery of folks to show up knowing that we were not all on the same page. The willingness to sit in discomfort. The openness to hearing other views.
The bravery of folks to show up knowing that we were not all on the same page. The willingness to sit in discomfort. The openness to hearing other views.
Being family together
These are some of the muscles we need to develop if we are truly going to be family together. If we are to be known by our love for other another (John 13:35), a great way to test this is loving those with whom we (even vehemently) disagree.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:35 (NIV)
That way of loving does not simply mean “speaking the truth” as we understand it—but forfeiting our priority of being right over being family.
I hope these experiences can become more common across our churches not only in this hemisphere, but globally.
Christa McKirland, originally from the US, studied her Doctorate at St Andrews University in Scotland, and has lectured at Carey College since 2020. She now calls New Zealand/Aotearoa her home, along with husband Matt and their two children.
More Deep Thought
The Change Makers by Melissa Lipsett, BWA
The Sound of Silence by Denise Stephenson
A Change in Thinking for Changing Times by Laurie Rowston
Courage to Make a Difference by Mark Wilson
Just Mercy by Michael Henderson
- Getting to Know You Franz Brosch, Associate Pastor at Wynyard
- Around the Churches, Feb/Mar 2023 Community engagement from Marrawah to Mornington!
- Generations of Legacy Perth Baptist Church Profile
- No Limits Women’s Symposium REPORT by Ann Herbert
- Marrawah Baptist Closes It was a grand finale! By Dan Evenhuis
- GOD and Life in Tasmania From the Mission Director, Stephen Baxter
- Walk the World Lifeway win Baptist Mission Australia award
- NEWS: February 2023 | March 2023