January 21, 2009

Leadership Interview - David Coffey

Dr. David Coffey is the President of the Baptist World Alliance and the former General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It was the vision of President Coffey that first launched the BWA Emerging Leaders Network in Ghana 2007. President Coffey, thank you for a vibrant and global ministry that has impacted many.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of some of the most recent developments, challenges and/or opportunities that have faced the BWA?

President Coffey: We face the challenge of developing a meaningful ownership of the recently agreed BWA five clusters of commitment throughout the BWA membership:

1. To join together in worship and fellowship
2. To nurture mission and evangelism
3. To defend religious liberty and human rights
4. To respond to human need through relief and sustainable development
5. To promote relevant theological reflection

Like all Christian organizations are suffering from the global financial crisis and we need to find imaginative ways of fulfilling our goals with fewer resources.

Q: What are some of the key ways that the BWA, and the regional member bodies, will need to adapt in our contemporary context?

President Coffey: First the Church needs to be wary of moving pragmatically in its mission. I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of Baptists around the world, but pragmatic endeavor must never become the foundation stones of our mission. We need to recover some key biblical and theological principles regarding God’s Revelation in Christ, the purpose of the Church, Christian discipleship and the dynamic relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Mission of the Church.

In a phrase-the key question is not what shape should the church be? Rather we should be asking what kind of disciples Jesus is calling us to be.

Q: As Baptists celebrate 2009 as the 400th Anniversary of the first Baptist congregation, what is one historical lesson that needs to be particularly remembered?

President Coffey: One of the books that will be published in 2009 in connection with our 400th anniversary celebrations is titled “Communities of Conviction.” We need to recover the concept of convictional churches comprised of believers who are committed to being Christian disciples willing to sacrifice everything for Jesus Christ in the face of a hostile world. Courage and conviction was the mark of the early Baptists and it is the one lesson I hope we will discover during Amsterdam 400.

Q: What will it mean to be a Baptist leader in the 21st Century and what are some of the necessary skills, opportunities and challenges that will be required of emerging leaders?

President Coffey: The BWA Emerging Leaders Network has heard my ten commandments for leaders, but let me repeat them again!

1. Be secure in your identity in Jesus Christ
2. Be convinced of your clear call from God
3. Be strong in your self awareness
4. Be sure to have accountability structures
5. Be aware of how to live with the mystery of suffering
6. Be committed to building a diverse church
7. Be a leader with a missionary heart
8. Be aware of the need to love people and use things and never reverse the order.
9. Be a risk taker with Jesus!
10. Be knowledgeable about the antidote to losing heart in God’s service

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