Research and consultation

In the course of its work, the Panel on Review and Reform produces various papers and summaries of books. A selection of these, as well as papers produced by the former Assembly Council, are available to download below.

Book summaries:

Understanding Missional Church

Two recent papers by the Convener of the Panel on Review & Reform (2017) used to support congregations on the Path of Renewal pilot – full and summary versions available.

Comparison of other Presbyterian churches

To assist the Panel in fulfilling its remit to bring proposals for an alternative presbytery structure to the General Assembly, a subgroup was established to study how other to study how other reformed churches structured their governance and resourcing functions. In particular, the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Reformed Church served as useful models of Churches which have undergone considerable change as they endeavour to become more effective for mission.

Overseas mission in the life of the local church

In 2008, the General Assembly approved a deliverance from the Church Without Walls Planning Group that the Panel on Review and Reform in collaboration with World Mission Council should commission a study on "the effect of overseas mission on the life of local church communities where they have an interactive partnership with an overseas project."

The study below is the result of that commission, presenting a full, encouraging, and challenging report on many varied partnerships, highlighting the benefits and the pitfalls of such relationships.

The Church and social capital

This extensive report explores the role played by Church of Scotland congregations in contributing to social capital at local and national level and shows how the Church is already reaching out into the community at the start of the Church without Walls process.

Understanding the spirituality of people who don't go to church

This fascinating sociological research studies people who describe themselves as in some sense 'spiritual', but who are not involved in organised religion.

Mission-shaped Church

This is an important mission strategy document for the Church of England, commended to congregations. Whereas the Church of Scotland report, 'A Church without Walls', provided a broad vision of the church, Mission-shaped Church focuses on one activity, church planting. This more focused approach makes it an important tool for congregations eager to turn Church without Walls into action.

Fifth Discipline and Fifth Discipline fieldbook

Although aimed at businesses, this book was an important influence on Church without Walls. It advocates organisations led not from the top, but by a vision nurtured and shared at every level. This will be a learning organisation, where greater freedom to make decisions - and mistakes - is combined with real commitment. The fieldbook helps to put the theory into practice.

Congregations as learning communities

This takes the ideas of the Fifth Discipline and applies them to the local church. It is a way to move from doing some Church without Walls activities to becoming a church without walls.

God is Dead: Secularisation in the West

A wealthy and democratic society, argues Bruce, fosters cultural relativism which undermines faith. The thesis is interesting, although the arguments are not always convincing.

A memory mutates: religion in modern Europe

A sociological picture of widespread religious beliefs in Europe, but a broken 'chain of memory' which passed formal religious knowledge to the next generation.

The Voices of Morebath

A micro-history of a church in an Exmoor hamlet at the time of the Tudor Reformation, reminding us that this is not the first challenging time for the church, and that it is at the local level that national change is most deeply experienced.

The Environment and Christian Ethics

This book addresses what is perhaps the most pressing concern for our society - and the Church. It traces back our relationship with creation and its place in Christian theology, and goes on to develop a Christian ethic involving the technological society, our relationship with the land, and other contemporary environmental issues. The question is, how should the church begin to be reshaped by this ethic?