Christa McKirland is lecturer in Systematic Theology at Carey Baptist College, and member of Royal Oak Baptist Church.

Dear Baptist whānau,

I grew up in a Southern Baptist context, and though I am grateful for much of that spiritual upbringing, I am keenly aware that power and authority in the church were (and are) often wielded in unhealthy, and even abusive, ways. While Aotearoa is now my home, Southern Baptists are still my people. Out of a love for my people, I am working on a book project on power and authority in the church. This book is an attempt to speak to them and to those beyond the Southern Baptist world because I believe it has implications wherever power and authority are present. 

The good news is that the Good News also speaks to power and authority! I believe Jesus turns these concepts upside down and invites us into a new way of relating together—as siblings. Not only that, but we are royal-priests (1 Peter 2:9-12; Rev 1:6, 5:10) intended to participate in the spread of God’s shalom/peace presence in the world (Eph 1:10).

Thus, this book looks at this question: How do we grow in our relational knowledge of God and live into our collective vocation of mediating God’s presence in the world?

With that question in the background of this book, I am keen to look at how power and authority might inhibit or promote that kind of flourishing vocation, or purpose. Further, as God is a dignifier of human freedom and agency, I am especially sensitive to how people’s own sense of self, freedom, and belonging are upheld in flourishing Christ-centred communities. 

That brings me to my survey (closing in five days, 4 June). I have been in enough conversations with members of our Baptist movement to know that there are healthy practices and approaches to power, and I would love to be able to integrate those into the final, constructive chapter of my book. I hope to expand our imaginations for what is possible, and having practical examples can aid in that work. I am also interested in that data and how it might help us foster flourishing Christ-centred communities here in Aotearoa, as well. This is an area we can all grow in, and I hope to develop some tools that will speak directly to our context here.

Thank you for reading and please consider taking 5-10 minutes (the average time taken has been 7 minutes and 45 seconds) to fill out the survey by 4 June. I really appreciate it!

Ngā mihi,

Christa McKirland

Photo: Sourced by Christa McKirland from Pixabay

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