Scottish Presbyterians move towards radical new forms of church life

By staff writers
May 4, 2010

A study into radical new models of church and congregational life in Scotland's largest Christian denomination will conclude its findings later this year.

The proposals of a major report will go to the General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland in 2011, the Kirk reports.

The move comes as the Church faces what some say is a continuing financial and numerical crisis.

The Emerging Church Joint Working Party, made up of representatives from the parish, Ministries and Mission and Discipleship Councils, have commissioned research into the launch and development of experimental forms of “being church”.

Among the questions being asked, are whether the new patterns of worship are recognisably reformed in theology and values and how the progress of such congregations can be evaluated.

Across Scotland, people are already exploring more relational models of church, says the Kirk.

This can involve going to people in their different neighbourhoods and networks, building friendships and community, and seeing if some of these communities have the potential for being church, rather than wait until those outside the church come to it, it says.

Existing projects funded by the Emerging Ministries Fund include the use of video technology for services in Caithness, a café in Dundee city centre, and a Bo’ness group developing an online community for worship.

It is seen by some as another way for the Kirk to take the Christian to the many and various expressions of contemporary culture - both religious and non-religious.

An Emerging Church DVD, Seeds, is launched at this year’s Church of Scotland Assembly and a copy will be sent to each charge to encourage discussion.

It is hoped it will help Kirk Sessions discern if it is appropriate to plant an alternative form of church in a neighbourhood, network or community where there is little or no connection with traditional church.

The 2008 General Assembly approved a Ministries Council report which affirmed the concept of “a mixed economy where both existing and fresh expressions of church co-exist, not at the expense of each other, but for the benefit of the whole”.


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