Was at the Church of Scotland this morning on the last leg of the Torry church tour. Again, a predominantly elderly church with, what appears from the content of the sermon, to have several missional challenges! The Rev Dr Barclay exhorted his congregation in no uncertain terms to take ownership of the mission of the church or else!
In many ways he was right. His church (as in the denomination) have recenly brought out a new plan to solve the decline of the church….by restructuring the system. His comment was that no amount of restructuring would help the delcine of the Kirk, what was needed was for people to own the mission. He spoke from the bit in the gospels where the Pharisees were questioning Jesus ministry. Jesus responds by asking them what their thoughts were on John the baptists ministry. The Pharisees don’t answer because it would get them in trouble…they sit on the fence. So, Dr Barclay made the connection between that and the concept of ownership…you either own the work or you don’t, but if you sit on the fence, its clear to all that its exactly what you are doing…sitting on the fence.
Very intersting…but I won’t publish my ‘pew-view’ of what the response of the congregation was!
Nevertheless, it was good to be identified as a visitor and invited to share tea with the minister (I was incognito in civvies) where on revealed that I was a Salvation Army officer. Dr Barclay was very cordial, conversational and refreshingly open about the missional challenge his church faces.
So, the grand tour of Torry churches comes to an end. Next step in the mission here is to begin conversation with local authorities and gain their perspectives on life in Torry.
On the issue of restucturing as a pancea for all ills….The Army are often the best at this, but as the good Dr Barclay said this morning, the right question is “What are we doing about the mission of the church?” and not “How can we structure the church better?”