How might revisiting the Church planting characteristics and techniques of the New Connexion of General Baptists (1770-1891) inform and challenge the reality of Church planting within the Baptist Union of Great Britain (1988-2008).
This research would comprise five main areas of study:
Describing the practice of the New Connexion in terms of Church planting will involve analysis of primary material which will include; Diaries, Memoirs, Annual Returns and Minute Books. The most significant time of growth for the New Connexion was between 1770 and 1815. This period may provide the most significant data in terms of this research. In order to expedite a complete understanding of their practice, I will draw upon material related to Church planting practices within the wider Church. In particular those that influenced the two leading characters Dan Taylor and Samuel Deacon.
Examination of the wider cultural themes will form part of this research. In particular the Social, Political and Theological emphases prevalent during the period studied. Bringing those wider cultural themes into dialogue with the New Connexion Church planting practice will enable examination of the motivating themes. I anticipate the Social, Political and Theological themes will raise questions about the current Church planting methods within the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
I will identify several churches that have existed within the ten year period from 1998 to 2008. Primary data will form the basis of this study and will include; Interviews with Church planting practitioners, Observations of practice, Practitioners reflections and journals, Denominational returns and church minute books (where available). The analysis of this data will be conducted with reference to sociological approaches to data gathering and current ethical standards.
An examination of the cultural trends will provide a backdrop to the current Church planting practice within the Baptist Union. It will be possible to raise questions about the influence that those cultural themes have upon the current practice.
A final comparative study of the two periods of Church planting will be conducted. The changes in the cultural trends will be observed and their influence on the Church planting practice will be assessed. At this juncture the studies in the New Connexion will be contrasted with the contemporary practice.
While it is impossible to predict the conclusions of a piece of research of this nature, there are a number of issues I am aware of that may form part of the outcomes.
My interest in the New Connexion was kindled as a child of the East Midlands. Many of the churches I worshiped in had their origins in the New Connexion. I have excellent access to the primary data including the entire collection of annual returns of the New Connexion, compiled and stored by Rev. Dr. Rinaldi. I also am able to access the Angus Library at Regents Park College, Oxford.
I have planted one church and am now involved in the facilitation of two others. I am at the heart of establishing a network for communication and learning among Baptist Church Planters within the Baptist Union. As a practicing Baptist Minister I already assign one day a week to academic reading and writing and will devote my annual study leave to the project. I am due a sabbatical in 2010.
Graham Doel : This Version 30 March 2007..