The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted for a radical action plan to be drawn up for the next three years. It seems that like cousin BREXIT it is not easy to leave the past behind and pave the way for CHEXIT!
One of my previous blogs appeals for simplicity, it seems we cannot do simple, apart from me who was born that way!
One thing that is not going to help us is “spin” as it has been evidenced on our own Church of Scotland website recently with the headline “Presbyteries Conference charts course for Radical Action Plan”.
Within that communication it talked of…
…an overarching theme of “Follow me” but failed to say this was met with a lukewarm response – not because “Follow me” is not important, but because we need “personal reflection”, a “looking outward” and a “leaving behind” combination every year and not neatly separated into a three year phased initiative.
…the conference was one of many local and national events contributing to the discussion – maybe I have missed these other events?
…a range of efforts being made – the day of prayer, which actually took place the year before as well – a further Doug Gay lecture, but he has already lectured on the important points – and a conference at Tulliallan hosted by Falkirk Presbytery – in fact, the conference is being hosted by Sanctuary First, an online congregation pioneered through Falkirk Presbytery!
…a Special Commission about which we have heard little in its intentions to change structures and which didn’t feature at all in the conference.
…at national level a Project Team has been established to look at Local Church, Discipleship and Finance – but we heard little of this at the conference and I did not know who was on the project team, nor that it was meeting weekly, nor that it was considering what should feature in a radical action plan, for we heard and saw nothing.
…and now a Reference Group is being added to help with specific planning – why was this not established in June rather than November and offer yours truly, in mid-November, two dates for meetings in December and January which I cannot attend. There may be more than one of you out there who is happy this simple pain cannot attend!
…the communication talks of a comment that says there is no “them and us” – absolutely! Only all of us together, but when no plan is emerging and little to make it happen then “we” need to do something about it. A hard CHEXIT where the Church starts to crumble apart following its 60-year decline is not the preferred option!
…“world café” style was used, it seems this is the new friend of conferencing, but trying to make any sense of the multitude of scribbled comments on paper tablecloths will take some effort in itself!
…the Convener is quoted: “None of us are in any doubt about the huge challenges facing the Church of Scotland at this time.” Well we are certainly agreed on one thing!
Some say to me, put up your ideas rather than knock those who are trying! I have given you a starter for ten on my reform website by flying kites of change – and happy to receive your ideas too - and I would love to meet with others to fashion ideas together but I am trying to do my best to fulfil the day job at the same time!! Also, there are times when we are too “nice” in the Church and accept a sloppy job because no one bothers to say anything for fear of hurting feelings. It is never my intention nor desire to hurt anyone’s feelings but do we really want CHEXIT – that breaking free from institutional chains that have grown to stifle the Church – that radical change we need to at least give the opportunity and possibility for Christian growth in our land?
Some may also wish to turn a blind eye to the national and Presbytery structures we have, focussing on the local Church as the place where real change can take place. I understand that and I wholeheartedly agree that the local is the place of real impact, but our Presbyterian commitments, in time and effort and money, still weigh heavily on our ability to move lightly and creatively in the local Church. I believe the Presbyterian system is good; it is simply that we have allowed it to become the end rather than the means to the end.
SPIN belongs to politics; it doesn’t belong in the Church. So let’s communicate the truth and the facts and not simply what people might want to hear. Better to say nothing than offer false hope.
Nothing would please me more than for a wonderful radical action plan to appear in order to shut my mouth! For this is not about me, it’s about the future of the Church in Scotland!
Some pray for revival within the status quo. It’s always been about choice. You don’t have to be radical. Would you still vote for CHEXIT?