30 October to 27 November 2022
Every year, for a number of years, we’ve had a series reflecting on Hobart Baptist Church and our values, mission and vision. Normally this is at the beginning of the year as we arrive back from the summer break. However, while the timing might seem obvious, it tends to cramp the beginning of the year, then before we know it Easter is upon us.
To get around this we’ve decided to place our vision just before we enter the busyness of Christmas and the relaxation of the summer break. Hopefully, placing it here will enable us to be focused and ready to go as the year gets into full swing when school begins.
30 Oct – Learning to live like Jesus in Hobart – Stephen Baxter
Jesus taught his disciples to pray God’s “kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is heaven. As we pray it today, we know we are not the architects of God’s restorative work, but participants with Jesus in bringing God’s shalom to our city.
6 Nov – Creatively expressing life and faith – Sean Priest
Life is a gift we celebrate. To gaze in awe at the beauty around us and in every person is to be inspired with joy, celebration and gratitude. When curiosity and creativity meet in community, the image of God is released.
13 Nov – Nurturing a brave space – Matt Henderson
We want to be a church that is inclusive and respectful. This requires authenticity, vulnerability, love and forgiveness. It is risky and brave, yet our commitment is to do all we can to seed and cultivate such an environment.
20 Nov – A place to belong – Speaker: Matt Henderson
No one should be lonely. When we all work together, we can make sure no one gets lonely. When we all reach out to each other, we all belong.
27 Nov – A place to contribute – Stephen Baxter
Every person is unique, everybody matters, and everyone has something to contribute and receive. But we need each other to do it. Open hearts, open minds and open lives makes room for everyone to contribute.
Our title Welcome comes out of our desire to be a place where those without a faith and those looking for a place to express faith, but feel unwelcome in other church settings, can feel welcome.
Welcome has two specific audiences. To those in the church it is an aspiration and call to the church we aim to be, and to those outside the church it is a declaration ‘you are welcome here’.
Jesus is our model
From the many stories he told about banquets and feasts, it appears Jesus didn’t mind a good dinner party. In fact, not only did he often dine with Pharisees, some of the elite of his day, he was criticised for dining with ‘sinners’ – those considered guilty of sin and sitting under God’s judgement (Mt 9:11, Mk 2:16, Lk 5:30, etc). Jesus welcomed all comers.
Even though he did not own a house to practice hospitality, he welcomed people through the tone of his voice, the smile on his face and his presence in their houses. He greeted strangers, taught the Pharisees to invite the lowly to their feasts, received children gladly and constantly served others. He even prepared breakfast for his disciples after the resurrection. For Jesus, welcoming others was a way of being in the world.
Paul’s letter to the Romans was written to a series of house churches experiencing considerable tension. While all followers of Jesus, these Jews and Gentiles were at odds about eating certain foods and observing certain days. Paul tried to keep them together, appealing to them to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (15:7).
“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” Jesus is our role model; he demonstrates what it means to welcome. It is not about feeling safe or comfortable but about providing a space where others are welcomed for who they are. It is not about status, spirituality or sinfulness, but about seeing each person as one made in the image of God and therefore deserving of our attention and care.
To be the church God desires us to be is to be a church that welcomes all who cross our paths, just like Jesus. We don’t need great buildings, state-of-the-art ministries, famous pastors, amazing music, or a stunning array of programs. What we need is heart, minds and lives willing to welcome others as Christ has already welcomed us.
Our deepest aspirations
Earlier this year (2022) we outlined the five key aspirations we have as a church. Over the five weeks of this vision series, we will explore each one of them through the lens of “Welcome.”
 Note: the wording is slightly updated and the order of the bottom two reversed.