Four months after a General Assembly calling for radical change and still nothing has changed…
This is an edited article, which I wrote for St John’s Bulletin in June, which I thought I would share here:
I feel that it is important to tell you all the truth. For too long we have buried our heads in the sand and pretended that everything is alright. It is time that you all know the truth. It isn’t…
The Church of Scotland, as we know it, is in trouble…
• We are haemorrhaging members, and locally (and nationally) we are doing very little by way of invitation to attract new ones;
• We do not have enough Ministers and Deacons entering training to cover the vast number of pending retirements;
• We have too much money tied up in old and crumbling Church buildings and Manses, that needs to be released to further the work of the Kirk across the nation;
• More than half of our congregations do not have enough income to cover their expenditure without drawing on their reserves – a practice that cannot go on indefinitely. For many congregations, their reserves give them a false impression that they are ‘alright’, while their income is not fully covering our expenditure.
• We have become so tied up in coffee mornings, fêtes and concerts, that we have very little to show by way of evangelism, social justice, etc. Besides one of the many toddler groups in the town, what are we providing for the young people as a congregation?
• We have wasted so much time talking about building work, while others complain or even skip Worship(!) when the Minister is not in ‘our’ pulpit, that we risk losing focus on what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ.
This cannot continue.
But this is not the end… It is an opportunity; a chance for a new beginning, but it needs to start now, with everyone playing their part in embracing such change…
We have a great opportunity for new things, growth and still being here if, and only if, we embrace radical change.
As part of that change:
• We need to focus on building community and relationships.
• We need to rebrand ourselves as a listening Church.
• We need to speak out on the issues of the day and take action.
As the General Assembly heard, I have experienced first-hand the things that happen when one is imprisoned by the past; when risks are not taken and uncharted territory left unexplored; when a refusal to accept that an old model has passed its sell by and a new, fresh approach is needed.
Although I am only 36 – one of the 4.8% of Ministers under the age of 40, I would like to think that my experiences can be used and learned from as we as a Church struggle across this land with a model that, in many parts but not all, needs to die and await resurrection.
We believe in loving God and loving neighbour.
In what ways can we do that?
We have been commissioned to make disciples by Jesus Christ.
How are we going to do this?
Our members all made vows, promising their Minister to encourage and support them, and to share the responsibility to follow and serve Jesus Christ in their Parish. It is time for us all to get out there, to make disciples and to rebuild.
Be not afraid… Be encouraged and let’s go!