Covenant Fellowship Scotland issued the following press statement on Thursday 16th May 2019 in the run-up to the General Assembly.
Think tank: New Kirk structure “must help congregations engage in mission”
Radical proposals from the Church of Scotland, which would see smaller Presbyteries merged into larger regional groupings, will only be fruitful if they help congregations reach out to the public with the Gospel, an evangelical think tank has said.
Covenant Fellowship Scotland, which represents hundreds of ministers, elders and members across the country, believes that structural reforms alone are “not sufficient”.
On Monday (20th May) hundreds of commissioners will debate the proposals – thought to be the biggest organisational changes to the Kirk for well over a decade – at its annual General Assembly in Edinburgh.
Rev Louis Kinsey, chairman of Covenant Fellowship Scotland, said:
“The Church of Scotland needs to have structures that will make, grow, send and care for disciples in a way that gives glory to God and is faithful in its Biblical witness.
“These structures must prioritise the Gospel, finding ways to enable local congregations to engage in local mission.
“Looking at Church structures in isolation is not sufficient.
“This vital work must be accompanied by the kind of clear priorities indicated in the General Assembly report.
“The membership statistics speak for themselves – if congregations are not assisted to share the good and life-transforming news of Jesus Christ, then all this is doing is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.”
Mr Kinsey added:
“Of the different images given of the church in the New Testament, the church described as a vine seems to be most helpful in this context. The vine is to grow and to bear fruit and to help it do that it needs a trellis to allow it to do so.
“The Bible itself is clear from beginning to end that church structures matter. From Jethro’s advice to Moses to the early chapters in Acts, we see God’s people changing in response to events around them, trying to work out the best way to allow the vine to grow.
“The danger for any generation is that we exercise loyalty to the trellis at the expense of the vine, or think that the vine is there to serve the trellis and not the other way around.”
Please pray for the General Assembly as it considers the proposals that will come before it, for Commissioners who will vote on them and for those in local congregations all across Scotland who long to reach out with the Gospel. Please pray that these changes will encourage, help and resource churches to make a real missional difference in their local communities.