Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Why am I a Baptist Christian?

This is a copy of my Pastor's Page for our May Church Magazine

Why am I a Baptist Christian? Why not Methodist or Anglican or Pentecostal or New Church? Why not United Reform or Roman Catholic or Quaker or Lutheran?

Today, in the UK, denominational boundaries matter less than they once did, and I think that is a good thing. Many in our church do not come from a Baptist background, but have joined us because they (you) have felt a warmth of fellowship and calling from God to be here. That, too, is good. Yet it’s good to be reminded what standing under the Baptist banner stands for! So here, in no particular order, are some of the reasons why I am a Baptist Christian.

1. Baptist Christians believe in conversion. The biggest influence on my life has been my family. My parents were Baptist Christians and their parents before them. Yet that does not make me a Baptist Christian! We believe that all people need to make their own decision to follow (or not) Jesus Christ.

2. Baptist Christians believe in the baptism of believers. It is not, as some mistakenly say, adult baptism that we practise but the baptism of those who can decide for themselves to follow Jesus. We believe that the New Testament witnesses to the baptism of believers, ordinarily by immersion in water.

3. Baptist Christians believe in congregational government under the leadership of Christ. This means that authority does not come from minister, elders, deacons, church councils, synods, Pope or even the General Secretary of the Baptist Union! Rather, the Church Members’ meeting is the place in which we discern the mind of Christ.

4. Baptist Christians believe in church membership. Of course, all who come to Christ are part of the Church Universal, but becoming a member is about receiving the privilege and accepting the responsibility of being part of the body of Christ.

5. Baptist Christians believe in religious freedom. This is part and parcel of our Baptist heritage, ever since Thomas Helwys wrote a pamphlet and sent a copy of it to King James I, for which he was imprisoned in Newgate Gaol, wherein he died! We believe that all people should have the right to worship, whether as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian, whilst holding to the need for conversion to Christ.

6. Baptist Christians believe in mission. Mission includes evangelism, but it is bigger than that. Mission is about offering the love of God to all by our words and our deeds.

These are some of the reasons why I am a Baptist Christian! Why do I keep putting those two words together? Well, you can be a Christian without being a Baptist, but you can’t really be a Baptist without being a Christian!

Why are you a Baptist Christian? Feel free to comment!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Appalling Customer Service from Aviva

Travelling between pastoral visits yesterday, my car broke down for the first time in its 90000 mile history. No problem, I thought, I’ll call Aviva’s breakdown service. They’ll soon be here. Little did I know that my problems were just beginning.

Here is an approximate timeline for the rest of the day:

4.20pm – phoned Aviva to be told that they could take up to 3 hours to reach me. I was a bit flabbergasted, but felt I had no choice but to accept it. Anyway, in previous call-outs to AA/RAC etc they have tended to overestimate the call-out time.

5.20pm – received a call from Aviva. Someone would be coming to me at about 6.20pm. Did I want to go and get a drink somewhere? They would call when 15 minutes away. I went for the drink – no call.

6.20pm – returned to the car.

6.50pm – no sign of Aviva, so I phoned again to be told that my call-out would be at least an hour. Meanwhile, two friends stopped to see if they could help. I gratefully accepted a lift home for some tea.

8pm – received a call from breakdown man to say that he was 15 minutes away. My wife took me back to my abandoned vehicle.

8.20pm – breakdown man arrived.

9.20pm – car was finally mobile, and I got home frazzled and ready for a large glass of wine.

Well, Aviva’s website says that they aim to get to any call-out within 40 minutes. Only 3 hours 20 minutes late then.

After the benefit of a good night’s sleep, I phoned Aviva this morning to register my disgust. After being passed from pillar to post through Aviva’s telephone system, I received the unhelpful advice that they don’t promise to be there within 40 minutes from a woman who was clearly programmed to deflect any criticism. Eventually, I got an address to write to with my complaint.

Aviva – you should expect a letter soon! I will be asking you:

1. For an explanation as to why you took so long to reach me. Even your breakdown man (who was very good, by the way) was amazed.

2. To apologise for your appalling customer service.

3. Why I should pay you £100 or so for breakdown cover, when £50 would have got me a local call-out within the hour.

4. Whether you are going to offer me any compensation?

Readers, wish me luck. And don't use Aviva!

OK, rant over!