Path of Renewal helps 52 congregations explore new approaches to mission

The Path of Renewal initiative aims to bring ministers and church members together to discuss and reflect on the big picture and explore new approaches to church life.

Groups from congregations across the Church have come together to share their experiences of discipleship in everyday life and how faith might be shared in places of work and play.
Groups from congregations across the Church have come together to share their experiences of discipleship in everyday life and how faith might be shared in places of work and play.

Launched in September 2015 with a pilot of 30 congregations in 2016, the initiative has expanded to include 52 congregations and 32 presbyteries in 2018 across the Church of Scotland.

Path of Renewal aims to help churches move from using a maintenance approach to a missional one; focussing more on their core calling.

Groups from congregations across the Church have come together to share their experiences of discipleship in everyday life and how faith might be shared in places of work and play.

Rev Liz Crumlish, who coordinates Path of Renewal, said:

“Path of Renewal does not provide a blueprint for how church should be today but encourages ministers and congregations to work out - together with God - how God is inviting them to be in and with the communities they serve.

“To do that demands a shift in mind-set – moving from having answers to asking questions.

“It also involves an element of risk taking, cultivating an environment in which experiments are welcome and one where, if something doesn’t work, that’s OK – we have something to learn from.”

A report on the progress of Path of Renewal will go to next year’s General Assembly.

The report will highlight how ministers have benefitted from working alongside colleagues who are also dealing with similar issues in how cultural changes are affecting their churches.

‘A journey back into a newness of life with Christ’

Some of the Path of Renewal ministers attending a training event at Gartmore House
Some of the Path of Renewal ministers attending a training event at Gartmore House.

More than half of the ministers who embarked on the first phase of the pilot are now mentoring colleagues in the second phase as the project continues to discover what it means to be involved in the Mission of God in all our many and varied contexts today.

Rev Scott Cameron, the minister at Stevenston High Kirk in North Ayrshire, who has participated in the initiative said:

“The most remarkable part of my three year journey with Path of Renewal was to find that it was not a journey into a new programme or project, but a journey back into a newness of life with Christ.

“At the beginning of my journey I felt spiritually dry and drained.

“I felt my ministry was becoming an endurance rather than a delighting in God.

“Path of Renewal gave me the opportunity to pause and return to Jesus my ‘first love’.”

‘Something of His Spirit is afoot in what we do’

Rev John Murning of Sherwood Greenlaw Parish Church in Paisley, reflected on his church’s journey through Path of Renewal by writing:

I have noticed that …
people are smiling more

and talking more in our church.
Some people are praying more,
others are caring more,
and some are thinking more.

I have noticed that people are willing to give things a try,
and experience something new.
people want to get involved,
and we now have a number of babies and young families
coming regularly to church on a Sunday morning.
and more parents
have supported the Remembrance Day
and the Uniformed organisation services.

I have noticed people being kind,
and saying thank you
for what other church folk have done for them.
not many folk fall asleep during the sermon,
and people in our community
recognise some of the things we are doing as a church
to be good and healthy and wholesome.

I have noticed new people joining our choir,
And the fun that the Time out Group have at the manse.
people are being generous
with their time, talent and money.
People are asking questions,
And probing for a deeper understanding about God.

I have noticed, faithful men and woman,
who come week in and week out to worship,
and bring something of themselves to Sherwood Greenlaw,
and offer themselves for the work of the Kingdom of God.

I have noticed, growth and optimism in people,

and a real willingness to take on board
new opportunities as they arise,
that expand the Kingdom of God in this place.

All this suggests to me that God is not dead here.
That something of His Spirit is afoot in what we do,
A little spark of the Spirit;
that seeks to kindle a deeper fire for God and this Kingdom work.

You can keep up to date with Path of Renewal through Liz’s blog.