Flying a Kite Presbytery Discussion Continued

Here i am once again flying a kite as we think a bit more about the reform of Presbyteries. During the past few years it seems to me that there is a mood in the church to be more relational than legal. This leads us to think about structures and functions that are based on trust and relationships rather than legal authority. True worship is surely an act of the heart in response to love and forgiveness not an act of duty or even an act of obedience. In so many ways the thinking of Church Without Walls is inviting the church to make a huge shift, to move from the courtroom to the place of adoration this is the place where we are called to in worship - the place of intimacy. In such a place we need to begin to understand the difference between public worship and the intimacy of private worship. I sometimes think that what is happening in many churches is that the intimacy of private devotion is being displayed in public and the solemnity of public weorship is being lost. A Community of Worshippers Many of the growing churches have based themselves around a community that makes worship its priority. They are prepared to change times, structures, and buildings to fit in with the social patterns of the day. These congregations take Ephesians 4 seriously they are committed to equipping all the saints for ministry. They include social justice and welfare care as part of the Christian act of worship and ministry. These are serious churches taking seriously the call to ministry and discipleship. The Church of Scotland has had its successes in the past in the area of Discipleship. The Summer Mission programme of the 60s and 70s is but one example where the programme developed many people within the church to take on roles of leadership through the experience of mission often with worship at its heart. We have seen some nurture in the past but it would be true to say that we have not been consistent in making nurture part of our congregational growth. We need to encourage a model of Presbytery that allows for nurture to develop, this is why the cell group or connect group is essential in the structure of the congregation. Nurture is seen as a key ingredient if we are going to be effective. From the first encounter with a cell group or a small house group the worshippers should feel accepted and part of something that iis helping them grow deeper in their Faith. If we could have opportunities for members to explore different topics as part of a Presbytery study group we could be starting to build the infra sttructure for local theological teaching and reflection. This might lead in turn to a person becoming a graduate of the College of Training in Worship and Discipleship which may be attached to Presbytery I think there is something about leading and teaching that go together. Perhaps it is only right that those who teach the future leaders of the church be themselves practiced in their leadership as they teach and train others. The model adopted by many of the growing churches is the person leading worship at one of the services on a Sunday will also be teaching the subject at the Church College the next week to students. If the Church of Scotland adopted a similar model the Presbytery would have its centre open daily as a place of prayer and reflection and spiritual activity. There are different levels of Christian teaching that could be of great service to local church leaders if courses were made available and taught by the ministers and teachers in the Presbytery. Some ministers would no longer be called to a congregation but be attached to minister from a Presbytery and be available for the district or region. Using our resources wisely from a central point may very well be a creative and useful development for the Presbytery. Inspirational leadership is borne out of reflection and prayer. In our busy parish lives, as ministers we often are becoming slaves to administration and fearful of failure and dwindling numbers. We perhaps need to regroup our leadership weekly around a centre of prayer and imaginative service. A new style presbytery would become a centre of renewal for ministers and congregations.
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