Following Jesus is a great adventure, but you wouldn’t believe it the way we frequently present it. It’s always a sadness to me whenever I see ‘discipleship’ wrapped up as a package, often a course of some kind, with individuals simply left to work it out on their own from there.

Having said that I value, immensely, Alpha, Christianity Explored and others and have frequently found they’re almost essential, in practice, for so many people to make that final step into faith in Jesus. (of course, this then becomes their very first step in intentionally following Jesus for the rest of their lives). In this sense the course helps someone past the tipping point. Tipping points are also frequently provided on times away from our normal routine. For me, personally, since being involved in Christian leadership for over three decades now, I find holidays a great source of spiritual refreshment and renewal, because they provide extra space and less people, although I do speak to Maggie! Also, one of the privileges of my life is I get to meet and hear a whole load of people who are otherwise only heard at conferences and festivals.

However, many people in our churches experience a tipping point when they encounter God away from their normal church routine. Church weekends away, youth camps, festivals, conferences, etc. I confess, as the Minister of a local church, I used to get annoyed when people returned from Spring Harvest and shared how God had spoken to them and made a huge impact on their life … then they shared what it was my outward response of ‘how wonderful’, was alongside my inner thoughts ‘I’ve been preaching that for the last few weeks, why didn’t you listen then?’ The Lord then helped me understand how I needed to translate his words, I was preaching, into reality in my heart. This person standing before me wasn’t my disciple, they were called to follow Jesus. It was an application of John 21:22 and I paraphrase … “if I want to call someone into a deeper and more adventurous life, following me, through someone other than you, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Ouch!

Subsequently, I’ve come to see part of my leadership responsibility is about providing an environment, which makes someone crossing tipping points more likely. I’ll be looking at some of the ‘tipping points’ that have been important for me and for others over a short series of posts on this site.

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In the meantime, please consider these opportunities which could provide a ‘tipping point’ for you or for someone you know:

Hill House: For many years Hill House has provided a tipping point into new life in Christ for many young people sent from Baptist Churches from around WEBA.

Forge Training: We have been responding to the call to identify and release 400 Pioneers across BUGB during the five years following Chris Duffett’s Presidency. The Forge Training year provides a real opportunity for people who have just ‘tipped’, or on the brink:

  • Looking to start being involved in local leadership where mission is the desired outcome.
  • Looking to place their experience and practice in a biblical and theological framework (ideal for people leading, or starting ‘third places’ like coffee shops, social enterprises, pre-school, etc. etc.)
  • Ministers looking to re-frame their current Ministry in the mission of God.
  • Looking to explore a sense of call into ‘ministry’ and ‘mission’, but unsure what shape this will take.

Spring Harvest: Spring Harvest aims to create space for individuals to encounter God, to inspire confidence in the good news of Jesus Christ and to see transformation in lives, communities and culture through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Baptists from all over the UK, have regularly found this to be the case. The positive impact across our Baptist Churches has been immense and we want to acknowledge that. I think this particular partnership, which really asks for very little from us as an organisation, is more about privilege than anything, but for those of us who are local church leaders and Ministers, it provides a fantastic opportunity for those in our congregation.

Re-imagine: A much bigger challenge than the pioneering and church planting is arguably the transitions many of our existing, established churches need to be undertake. How do we, in practice, re-establish discipleship at the core of our being as churches and how do work towards our many and varied activities to revolving out of our sense of the mission of God? These are the kinds of questions I’ve been living with for many years. Within WEBA our missional learning community called Re-imagine, I think, helps provide the environment in which any of our leadership teams can make significant steps forwards. The next one will start January 2017, but you’ll need to start thinking about it very soon, if you wish to sign up.






Nigel Coles

Nigel is Regional Team Leader of the West of England Baptist Network. He facilitates the life of the webnet team and oversees the missional strategy for the region. He also works to develop missional strategy over a wider geographical area with our partner Associations and Baptists Together. Nigel believes that when Jesus sent out seventy-two others, he meant everyone who was there, and this passion to help everyone find their way in the mission of God is what inspired the development of Seventy-two.