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Theologian Says Future Plans Could Be 'Too Severe'



                                                                                                                            Tuesday May 31 2022

A CHURCH of Scotland theologian and author has suggested that proposed plans for future mission and ministry in the Church could be ‘too severe’.

Writing in a blog on the website of Trinity College, Glasgow, the Rev Dr Doug Gay said: “My concern is that we have locked ourselves into a closed economy of scarcity, which is in danger of locking us into an accelerating pattern of institutional decline. In our honest and commendable attempt to face the music, we are now in danger of imposing on ourselves a cycle of cuts and restructuring which is too severe and too far-reaching and which will have irreversible consequences.”

He adds: “The current round of mission planning is being experienced by many local churches, members, elders and ministers as deeply shocking and disheartening. Having deferred this day of reckoning for too long, we are now aghast at its consequences and implications.”

Dr Gay, the author of a 2017 book, Reforming the Kirk, which laid the foundations for the Radical Action Plan approved by the Church’s General Assembly in 2019 offers alternative suggestions, but argues that mission planning targets, ‘(although realistic) are too aggressive and disruptive’ and emphasises the Church is facing a ‘vocations crisis which calls for new urgent, creative and flexible responses’.

In the article he  calls for investment in church planting and youth and younger adult ministry in particular, along with tenure and financial reform, but also points out that if ministry target numbers were relaxed, the Church would have to live with more vacancies, swapping one challenge for another (and both present difficult ways ahead).

Concluding, he adds: “This has taken a long time to write and reflects a lot of thought and concern over many years. None of us knows how to do what we are trying to do. We need each other and the guidance of the Spirit in taking this conversation forward.

“My primary concern is that our current round of cuts and redeployment via mission planning may be too drastic a pruning and one which does not create or leave enough spaces and mechanisms for rebuilding and replanting. In particular, I worry that in its concerns with sharing pain equitably, it does not do enough to help create new ground up flows of money, people and ministry. Enough said. For Now.”


Read the full blog here


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Satish - Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

“Please pray for me”

Ian Adamson - Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

“Have you ever thought of reversing the roles of the kirk, and make the social and charitable works the prime reason for your being, while keeping the ministry and missionary part of the church as a private domain. This has been adopted with great success by the Churches in Germany. They employ thousands of social workers and run numerous charitable enterprises, to the extent that they are the second largest employer in Germany, with an income of over €20 billion. My wife and I have scoured the land looking for churches with the possibility of non-praying or social membership like golf and bowls clubs. ”

James Fraser - Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

“Doug Gay is right to sound the alarm bell. In seeking a ‘quick win’, belatedly, the Church is in danger of abandoning the churched as it looks to grow through church planting: buildings cost, so do Ministers, so it wishes to reduce their number. Much more exciting to fund mission with social purpose under-pinning it. From a theological perspective that may be right, from a finance perspective it might be attractive but as mission succeeds our churches should be the beacons of welcome and hope. Our problems stem from three failings:
1. The shift from a bottom up, Presbyterian organisation to one that is centrally controlled and committee run.
2. Poor governance in terms of ‘security of tenure’ for elders and ministers. Local churches have invariably been unchanged for 30+ years, yet times move on.
3. Confusion within the CofS about the need to generate income - this is not about being a business but it is about being business minded: uninspiring services, Kirk sessions that have a ‘can’t do’ mindset, a message of woe rather than hope, whilst shaking the begging bowl at the churched May have worked in the 1950s.
I hope the Revd Gay is listened to. The future of our church needs vibrant, local, unconstrained churches that fund and support local mission; not centrally managed plans and zoom worship.

George Ford - Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

“YY. You can see almost all of the problems and most of the solutions.
A bit of fresh air. I agree with all you say. Good luck.”

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