A major study into radical new models of church will conclude its findings later this year and report to the General Assembly of 2011.
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.
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.
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 Gospel to the many and various expressions of contemporary culture.
An Emerging Church DVD, Seeds, is launched at this year’s 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”.
CASE STUDY –WHITEINCH: GLASGOW CHURCH FLOURISHES
A GLASGOW church that started with a handful of worshippers has grown to over 150 people, raising hopes of a successful mission strategy for the Church of Scotland.
Whiteinch Church, which began as a church plant in the West End of Glasgow in 2000, does not have its own church building and instead meets in the local community centre.
By basing itself in the heart of the community, Whiteinch has been able to be shaped by the spiritual needs of parishioners and remove some of the barriers which would sometimes prevent local people from attending services and groups.
Critics say it could prove to be a growth model that the Church of Scotland could emulate elsewhere. Church planting is also underway in parts of Inverness, Perth and Aberdeen.
Subject to the approval of commissioners, Whiteinch will move from being a new charge development, essentially a church plant with a blank canvas, to a fully fledged congregation in its own right at May’s General Assembly.
Notes to news desks:
For more information please contact Gordon Bell, senior media relations officer, on 0131 240 2204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Reverend David Currie, New and Emerging Ministries development officer, and Reverend Alan McWilliam, minister at Whiteinch Church, are available for interview.
03 May 2010