You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.Matthew 5.1 ESV
The Church of Scotland seems to be in disarray. There is panic at the rate with which we are shedding members and haemorrhaging cash. In response, we are seriously restructuring; nationally consolidating into mega presbyteries and locally culling posts and buildings. And as with many traditional denominations we seek hope in new forms of church and ministry.
During the Q&A at a recent book launch, it was remarked that we must beware relying upon our own innovation instead of the Holy Spirit. That’s an important comment; not simply as a biblical precept but also because it may be a prophetic statement to the Kirk today. Restructuring or new ministries may be answers to the wrong questions. Because the main issue appears to be, we have forgotten that God is living. We are not dealing with a machine. We are not dealing with a maths formula. It’s not just a matter of tweaking the equation or checking that we are inputing the right data.
Scripture testifies that God is a living being with whom we are in relationship. Rebranding, restructuring, refreshing and reforming will make no ultimate difference unless we prioritise our relationship with him. Perhaps another better question we must answer today is are we in good relationship with God? Because if our restructuring is an act of faithful obedience then it may be blessed. But if it’s simply about saving the Kirk, why do we presume that God will bless it?
In our planning for the future of the church there is very little discussion about our obedience and faithfulness to God. Perhaps like prayer at the General Assembly, it is simply assumed? It is also seldom considered as an explanation for the problems we face as a denomination. Why do we ask how to fix our decline without starting with consideration of the quality of our obedience to Scripture? The Scriptures are full of prophetic warning to God’s straying people, calling them to lament, repent and reconcile with Him. Do we imagine that Jesus’ atonement relinquishes the requirement for his people to be faithful?
So, before we invest too heavily in restructuring might we consider the personal and corporate call for the church, in response to God’s grace, to be faithful, holy, just, generous, humble and pure. In other words, as the Scottish nation in general, we should first consider our salt content.