As I write, sitting at the top of the manse steps (pictured), I wonder how on earth we can ever change the old Church of Scotland for the better! It has been declining for decades. No doubt there are pockets of good things happening around the country and new opportunities arising, but the institution is failing. This is a call for radical reform and the sooner the better! If good things and new opportunities are to thrive then they must be supported, rather than hindered, by the institution. So don't let this simply be a voice in the wilderness, send on your suggestions for reform and let's build momentum for change! Do not accept bland and boring in a Gospel of excitement and adventure!
“I have tried to analyse the causes of our failure in the institutional Church to meet the challenge of secular society, and to set down, as honestly as I am able, the major problems which confronted us as we sought to become a “missionary parish”…We make no kind of claim to finding a blue-print for a solution…We have made some tentative and stumbling steps along a road ..." Not new words but old words, from June 1953... Rev Tom Allan wrote that in the preface to his book, “The Face of my Parish”. Stark truth is that the institution has changed at a snail's pace since...let’s note a few statistics: in 2005, the number of communicants was 535,834 – in 2015 it was 352,912 – a ten-year loss of 182,922. In the last three years, full-time ministry candidates beginning their formation process were 12, 15 and 16 respectively; number completing training was 24, 15 and 14 respectively. The number of charges in 2010 was 1134 with 939 serving ministers; in 2015, we had 1040 charges with 786 serving ministers. (Source: General Assembly Blue Book 2016) Now the projected figures for 2023 are 932 charges with 611 ministers!
I do not claim any great wisdom, merely the urge to call for reform in a Church that should always be reforming but seems to have forgotten how to do so! I make some suggestions but know that better suggestions for change lie out there with you! But we need to act together, otherwise our Church will continue to decline and we will miss an opportunity to turn things around, not for our merit, but for God's glory and the building of his Kingdom in Scotland and beyond!
Mon the reformers!