Joining the Order for Baptist Ministry
The Order for Baptist Ministry is a ‘dispersed’ order: its members meet in ‘cells’ (broadly geographically based) to support, encourage, and hold one another to account. Membership of a cell functions as a door into the life of the Order for anyone who wishes to explore it seriously, together with the use of the Order’s Daily Office. This resource can be used by anyone, and is available freely on the Order’s website, but the practice of saying this Office is expected of those testing their calling to join the Order.
Those who join a cell are Participants in the Order, but a step of commitment –expressed through vows made at Convocation – is necessary to become a Member of the Order
Those who intend to live as a professed Member are expected to commit themselves to the Order in the following distinctive ways:
- Saying the Daily Office
- Faithful attendance at cell meetings
- Participation in the Annual Convocation wherever possible
In addition, Members will fulfil the demanding expectations of living faithfully to their baptismal and ordination vows and practising spiritual disciplines such as retreat, direction and daily seeking the grace of God to be exemplary disciples and ministers of Christ.
Joining a cell is at the discretion of its existing members, but they will always remember the hospitable spirit embodied in the Dream, our foundational statement. New Participants are expected to use the Office daily to test the suitability of the Order for their future ministry, and to make attendance at cell a priority.
It is the task of the cell in which a Participant has tested their call to the Order to commend that individual to the Core Group, (which offers the Order leadership and guidance). This communal discernment, at both cell and wider levels, embodies much of what we understand by responding to God’s call: it is not simply an individual’s decision, but a call that has also been tested by others. We anticipate that a Participant would attend a cell for at least 12 months prior to seeking membership.
Those who wish to become professed Members, and whose calling has been confirmed by both the cell and the Order, make their vows at the next Convocation. There is no period of phased commitment that might mirror a more traditional novitiate. We take seriously the vows we make, and seek to live fully in them: they are an outworking of the foundational vows of baptism and ordination. We remain aware that God might call us to express our life outside the Order. This is why, at the heart of the Daily Office, is a statement of intent that is also a prayer: ‘Living God, enable us this day to be pilgrims and companions committed to the way of Christ….’. (Reflecting on our Roots).
From time to time new cells will form. These will normally be through the growth of existing cells, where the patterns of cell life will be transferred to ensure some commonality across cells. Where a new cell, consisting entirely of new Participants, is created, it will be expected to consult with a member of the Core Group, to propagate the ways of expressing cell life that are common to the Order.
Anyone who wishes to explore joining a cell, and who does not have any personal link with the Order, should initially contact the Membership Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org). At present, not all those wishing to join a cell will be able to find one within reasonable travelling distance, but it is our prayerful hope that there will soon sufficient cells to accommodate most enquirers.