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Youth Column: We Must Submit Wholly to Christ

Youth Column: We Must Submit Wholly to Christ

Thursday October 3

Josep A Martí i Bouis offers thoughts on evangelism and mission in the Church of Scotland


The proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and His Kingdom are at the very centre of our Christian lives, both at an individual level and as a community of believers.

This missionary aspect of Christianity, always latent in church history, has gained importance recently in Scotland and the rest of Europe. As the dismal statistics regarding professions of faith, church attendance, biblical literacy, etc show the full impact of decades of secularisation, the need for active and urgent evangelisation is made all the clearer.

At the last General Assembly of the Kirk, at which I was honoured to represent the young people of the Presbytery of Edinburgh (younger people, one should say!), the unveiling of the Radical Action Plan opened a new opportunity truly to become an evangelising, missionary community of faith. But what we mean, as a body, by these adjectives, will completely shape whatever projects we end up undertaking as ‘missions’.

Since starting my studies in Edinburgh, I am involved with both the student-led New College Missionary Society, which I presided, and the Edinburgh University Campus Ministry of the Church of Scotland. In both groups there is one common goal: to let people know about Jesus and His message for us today. From this perspective I would like to offer some thoughts on where we are, and where we are headed, when it comes to rediscovering evangelisation and mission.

There seem to be two popular misguided approaches in our age. Firstly, a focus on outward forms of worship and praise as the key to outreach, and secondly an embrace of secular culture that dilutes the Gospel and hides it behind a myriad of otherwise very worthwhile causes.

The first ‘temptation’ seems to be more prevalent in congregations attempting to reach so-called millennials and younger folk. It is the idea that fog machines, multi-coloured lights, surrounding and often deafening upbeat music, and other fancy elements will bring people to an otherwise dull and distant service.

The second one, perhaps common in the more liberal wing of the Church, attempts to stay relevant by focusing solely on political and social activism.

Why do I call these two directions misguided? Having a relevant style of worship to the local community is important, even fundamental in creating the local relationships that mission demands. Pursuing justice is a duty towards our triune God, and something that should be prioritised wherever it is neglected amongst ourselves. However, focusing too much on them shows a people-centred approach to mission, rather than a Christ-centred one. Centred on us, on ‘saving’ the Church, on being relevant, instead of being grounded entirely on God’s own revelation and redeeming plan for our world.

Being relevant is important, as is showing God’s love in practical ways. But Scotland and the world will not be converted by turning our churches into rock concerts, or indeed a museum for organ connoisseurs; neither will morphing a Kingdom ‘not of this world’ into a spiritualised signature-gathering campaign redeem our culture. Outward form and activism ought to be produced by, rather than the drivers of, a missionary and active church.

As we refocus our efforts and direct them to mission we must submit wholly to Christ. On our knees, we realise that it is Him who does the work of mission, through us, having already won the battle against death and sin, reconciling the world with God. Mission must seek not numbers and statistics, but the glory of God alone.

Thus, instead of focusing on relevant external forms of worship, or the latest trendy social cause, we must become Christ-centred in our proclamation (kerygma), Word-focused in our teaching (didache), and Grace-oriented in our living.

Living by grace alone, we can and ought to make ours the Moravian saying, eternalised by Von Zinzendorf, that one should ‘preach the Gospel, die, and be forgotten’. From a simple, yet solidly grounded act of proclamation, everything else will follow.


Josep A Martí i Bouis, from Barcelona, is a theology student at the University of Edinburgh. He is a member of Canongate Kirk.

If you are under 30 and involved with the Church of Scotland, and would like to write for this column, please email us on magazine@lifeandwork.org


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