Thursday, 8 March 2012

whoever said change was easy?

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Last night the Kirk Session decided to stop Sunday@Seven as a weekly evening service at Easter and run it as a monthly event thereafter. Let me think aloud about that decision.

Why it is a sensible decision:

  • The group of people who attend our evening service is small; when everyone comes, we are a group of 15 or 16.

  • There have been a couple of occasions, since Christmas, when the group has numbered 6 or 7.

  • Something of this feels inevitable, that if we hadn't taken the decision now, we would be taking it at some stage in the not too distant future, given the fact that the group is quite static in its membership.

  • Group dynamics suggest that the smaller the group becomes, the more demanding it is of those who are its members and the more difficult it is for new people to break into it and become part of it.

Why it is a difficult decision:

  • Those who do come value the style and opportunity of worship that an evening service gives; it is more informal; we sing a different balance of songs from the morning; there is more time and space to reflect on a Bible passage or a theme. So there is a sense of disappointment around. It's just a pity that there are not more of you!

What of the future?

  • The service will be run once a month for the time being; here are 3 dates:

  • April 22nd,

  • May 13th,

  • June 10th.

  • The second Sunday of the month will become its normal home, assuming that the monthly event is one that people will attend.

I would like to try to develop the best of what we have in Bible teaching with some new things. I'm not quite sure what these are yet, but there will still be an interactive element to it and I'd hope to develop the worship and prayer times a little bit more.

A Church light on its feet?

That seems to be a contradiction in terms. Churches and Christian organisations generally, are amongst the most conservative groups you will find; change is hard to accept for many of us. When something comes to the end of its natural life, we find it enormously difficult to accept that without a sense of failure or guilt. But the Church needs to become lighter on its feet, more adaptable, more willing to experiment, ready to try things and if they don't work, move on.

Times have changed; there is no doubt about that; fewer people are willing to come to Church twice on a Sunday; Sunday has become a day for other things as well as church; Messy Church works for us on a Saturday, partly perhaps because it is not Sunday! Church is swimming against the culture in so many different ways; it is harder and harder to be Church in our society. Perhaps this is one decision that reflects that tension and difficulty.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Something I was reading this morning sparked off a question in my mind about Church. It is about maturity and how much we understand of God and the Christian faith.

The link is to the Wordlive website; watch the little video called 'Raspberry Coulis' and reflect on it in the light of Hebrews 6:1-3.

When we put this into a Church-based context there are some questions and concerns:

  • Only 10% of Christians in Scotland regularly read their bible.

  • Even among Christians, there is a lack of understanding of what the Bible says about many of the current, controversial issues, such as same-sex relationships.

  • Our Church library is rarely-used and part of the reason for that is a generation of people who have stopped reading books.

  • There is an appetite for worship that is exciting and vibrant, but not always thoughtful and provoking.
I know that maturity is also about character and the way in which we live, but so much of our Christian character is based on what we understand of God, Jesus and the Christian life. There are some who take this seriously and are dedicated to growing in their understanding of Christian faith; there are others for whom they just don't have the time and space in their lives to do this, even if they want to.

My question is this: how do we as Church provide good opportunities by which people can mature in their faith? What kind of opportunities will you take, if you don't already come to Church Wednesday? Even more basic, I suppose, is this question - how do we inspire people to want to grow in faith?

In 10 years time, lots of Church of Scotland congregations will depend more and more on local people for their leadership. People like me are becoming more and more thin on the ground. For these congregations to survive, never mind grow, they will need people who understand the Bible well and who have a grasp of some of the important theological themes. Without that, we will have Church-lite and run the risk of superficial and shallow Church, in danger of being swept in one direction and then the other by the latest theological or social trends of the day.

Food for thought!