The Church of Scotland Mission Plan is largely horizontal in nature, dealing with ecclesiastical organisation. It is impersonal, wordy (over 11,000), and represents the micro-management of contraction and decline.
A vertical solution is required in the Church of Scotland. Deeper, more fundamental questions need to be addressed. For example:
1 Is Christianity true, intellectually credible and relevant?
2 Why are so few men and women being called to the ministry of the Church of Scotland?
3 Does Church decline contradict the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The Five Marks of Mission do not fully mention Jesus Christ. He is implied as he is implied in the life of the Church of Scotland. Implication is not sufficient for Christian mission. That the central Church of Scotland should insist on mission when the Church of Scotland has departed from its roots in Jesus Christ and bends with every wind is breathtaking hypocrisy. Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby wrote in ‘The Times’ on 1st May 2021, ‘Investers and businesses need to go beyond “greenwash” in which existing activity is creatively re-labelled to advertise its supposed sustainability….It is time to demonstrate authentic change’.
The Church of Scotland practises ‘Missionwash’. The Mission Plan reflects ‘Missionwash’. In the four years I spent on the Mission Committee of Ayr Presbytery, Jesus Christ was not discussed, not once.
Authentic Christian living is the key to any possible future. A Spiritual Audit is required. Here are some suggestions for congregations to consider.
1 Begin where we are.
2 Most congregations are in decline.
3 Most congregations are disproportionately elderly.
4 Most give of their pensions.
5 Most membership is nominally Christian in character.
6 Many do not know much about the Bible.
7 Many do not pray all that much.
8 Many are not convinced about the basics of Christianity.
9 Many cannot articulate what it is they believe or do not believe.
10 Some members think that they own what they do in congregations, that they are volunteers (as in a charity shop, for example) and that they give of their own free time rather than understanding that we do not own our Christian lives, that we made vows and promises to serve Jesus Christ, and that our time is God’s time given to us.
11 Ego involvement, disagreements and bad behaviour in congregations are never admitted or addressed in Presbytery.
12 Gifted and able people are not sufficiently Jesus Christ centred for mission.