Fresh Expressions and the Church of Scotland

Monday, 24 June, 2013

The Church of Scotland's Mission and Discipleship Council has indicated it is planning for growth in numbers and not managing decline, encouraging the pioneering work of Fresh Expressions.

Reporting to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Tuesday 21st May 2013, Rev Colin Sinclair, the Council Convener, said during his speech that a formal partnership with Fresh Expressions is being established. This will mean that the Church of Scotland can further benefit from their experience in training for and support of new expressions of church life.

He said,

This is a really exciting development and I'm pleased that in Scotland 200 leaders have now been trained in mission shaped ministry and others have experimented with Messy Church, together with other new contexts for worship.

We hope to have some taster events around the country in the coming year and also the shorter six week course. We are also looking forward to appointing a Fresh Expressions Development Worker, a joint appointment with Ministries Council in partnership with the Fresh Expressions movement. We are planning for growth, not managing decline.

Colin Sinclair, Convener: Mission and Discipleship Council for the Church of Scotland, discusses why the Church of Scotland is formally joining the the Fresh Expressions partnership, having journeyed alongside Fresh Expressions for a number of years. What is the challenge facing the Church in Scotland and how can Fresh Expressions help meet this challenge?

You can also watch David Cameron, Convener: Joint Emerging Group for the Church of Scotland, discussing the move.

Duration: 3:27   | Download Download video (flv) | Download Download video (wmv) | View on YouTube


Colin Sinclair (Convenor: Mission and Discipleship Council): I think one of the big challenges is that the world is changing and the church is changing and in their they're sometimes growing apart and sometimes we try and think of reaching a world that is changed from even ten, twenty years ago and we don't have the strength and the resources of the church twenty years ago. And it's sometimes facing reality and not creating simply and impression that we understand what's going on.

There is a need for fresh thinking and trying things that are different because clearly there is over 90% of the folks in Scotland that are just not connecting with the Church, not all of who are hostile to the church and some who have had a church background but they need fresh ways to re-imagine what they think church is to be and what the Christian faith is all about and how it could relate to their own lives and context.

When the Church is in a march of decline people can feel discouraged, they can feel tired and the thought of something else to do, which might be yet another glorious failure, is always slightly daunting. But having said that, when people can see models of churches like them doing something different and seeing its impact they're much more encouraged to say I'd like a bit of this and it might work out differently or play out differently where they are but there's an opportunity to do something that really does impact their local community and in which they can take a real involvement, a commitment to.

Sometimes people try and do too much all at once and it's better to try and do something and so see the impact of that... and not necessarily feel that they know what the outcome's going to be, but start on the journey and that may develop into something quite different and quite fresh - and quite imaginative. And who knows that they might actually pioneer something that will be taken up and used by others. What we're not trying to do is to try and clone a particular form of church and say this is how you do it in five steps, it's not like that. People are different and situations are different.

In the work we're doing in Mission and Discipleship, one of the words we've been using is resourcing resourcefulness and we would like to help introduce them to resources and models, but not only that, to accompany them along the way, to try and see what they might be able to do in their own setting and to see how that might make sense for them. So go for it is where I'd start probably and even in saying go for it there's financial assistance available through our Go For It fund to help people sometimes try some of these things which are... OK, they may not all work but which just might make a difference.

One of the things I always take heart at is that I believe that God is still God and that's where we put our trust. We have to face the challenge of our generation, we face a challenge when the Church is declining and people wonder if there is a future. I'm not prepared to write off the Church yet, I believe we just have to take our challenge and see how that works out.

Start by just listening to God, start by looking around and seeing what's there and then see if there are other people whom together with you can take that first step in the adventure of faith and you'll find that mission is actually far more exciting, demanding, fulfilling, frustrating and worthwhile than anything else.


Great post, thanks to the author.

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