Background and aims
If we are to fulfil the church's mission in sharing the gospel, we need to be a people who are prepared to incarnate the gospel in the many and various expressions of contemporary culture. Such adaptation and innovative risk-taking finds roots in our Reformed tradition – "reformed and always reforming" (reformata semper reformanda). Most people are familiar with the traditional Parish model of church life, but there is no single model of church and Christian communities have always taken a variety of forms.
Priority of prayer
This is a call for prayerful "double listening" rather than hasty action : listening to what God is saying to the church through biblical and theological reflection, and listening to the cultures of the day. What are the issues we face? What are the real needs of our communities? How are we to respond to them? What kind of expressions of church speak to today's Scotland? To fulfil our mission to Scotland, there is a need for both "inherited" modes of church and "emerging" modes of church. Each must relate to the other - informing each other, praying for each other, supporting each other.
Preparing people to serve in pioneer ministries
Those who will feel a sense of call to pioneer ministries are those who will need to be prepared to "build church from the bottom up". These skills may be quite different to the pastoral and teaching gifts necessary for what we've come to know as Church of Scotland ministry today in many parishes. Parish ministers already have a building and a leadership team. Those involved in pioneer ministries are called to the ministry of church planting - in different sub-cultures and networks as well as different geographical areas.
The scriptural basis for this comes from the book of Acts itself, where there seems to be a constant call to take the good news beyond the present boundaries and limits; where churches were planted all over the Roman Empire; where Christians were prepared to go beyond their own land and people group to incarnate the gospel in groups and networks sometimes very different to their own, moving them well beyond their comfort zones.
Where is the movement of God's Spirit today? In what people groups and networks not presently being touched by church do we once again need to incarnate the gospel?
To find out more about training opportunities for pioneer ministry, visit these websites:
- Forge Scotland - a programme based at Whiteinch Church of Scotland for creating new expressions of church
- Fresh Expressions - Fresh Expressions encourages and resources new ways of being church, working with Christians from a broad range of denominations and traditions
- Urban Expression - an organisation committed to planting Christian communities in the poorest parts of the UK