Introducing Reshaping for Mission – a missional response to the challenges we face.
We are a church being reshaped for Mission!
As a denomination we want to see United Free Church congregations across Scotland revitalised, renewed and growing and to see new congregations established, so that the denomination can play its part in the mission of God’s people in Scotland.
This is the vision of Reshaping for Mission, the United Free Church’s mission initiative which was adopted at the 2015 General Assembly, in response to what we see happening both across the denomination and more widely across Scotland, and indeed across much of the western world, namely the growth of secularism and the decline of many congregations and churches. This could lead Christians to shrug their shoulders in despair or to put up the barriers and hope somehow to weather the storm. However, there is another response, which is to see God using this situation to drive us to a renewed commitment to mission and confident proclamation of the Gospel. The theologian Emil Brunner is credited with saying “As a fire exists by burning, so the church exists by mission.” In our current spiritual climate, churches, especially established ones with a long history need to look outward and adjust our own mind-set from one that sees church ministry as being about “maintaining the congregation” to one which sees the church’s role as “engaging in mission in the community”.
Erskine Church is a part of the Reshaping for Mission initiative;
1) Church Revitalisation
We have a radical commitment to bring new life into our situation in Carnoustie, and our denomination has helped provide us with a new minister and manse in February 2018. Our aim is to become once again a more living, vibrant, and particularly witnessing congregation. The good news is that churches can berevitalised, but they must want to be and be willing to go through the change that will be required. We want that change and we welcome all who feel called to join us in this process.
2) A Church Renewed for Mission
We want to make local mission and growth a conscious aim, rather than merely a vague hope. This is going to require a re-focussing of our priorities, as we equip members to share their faith and free them from too great a commitment to internal church activities. We want to spend more time serving and witnessing in the local community and cultivating friendships with those not yet Christians.
We recognise that this is a venture into new territory. We will need to increase our trust in God to do new things and to bring people to faith in Jesus, an increase in courage to go out to meet others, and an increase in our imagination to see the new opportunities which God is giving to us.
We recognise that if something or someone grows, it means that change will happen. The same is true for our church. Change can be hard and sometimes scary. We don’t know what the church of the future will look like, but we do expect to see new gatherings of church coming into being with new styles of worship and mission, and we are likely also to need to have different types of people coming to help us. We will need evangelists, and those with prophetic insight into the needs of our communities and a vision to see the opportunities God is giving us, and those who have the pioneer spirit of the apostles as they break new ground to make Jesus known. Above all we need to pray —individually, in our congregation and across churches and presbyteries. Only if God works will we see the growth which we desire.
We want to see the gospel shared afresh and relevant for this generation and we welcome all who feel called to join us in this process.