Competence is not something of which I’m often accused. So this entire blog might be interpreted as resentment.
But competence is a quality highly valued in the Kirk. Between us, we have thousands of years of ministry experience. Judging by the number of Rev Drs and the alphabet soup after many names, the Kirk is also rammed with PhDs and MThs. We have active training and CPD departments. Our ministers are university educated and I suspect professionals are over-represented amongst our elders. A range of Doctors of the Kirk have heavily influenced our decision making right up to the present day.
With such competence, how is it we are (almost) hopelessly lost?
In the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the Psalms and I’ve been struck by the repeated warning not to trust in our own power or abilities. When facing the enormity of our problems and the full weight of the majesty of God, the Kirk’s competence shrivels. But undeterred, we initiate programmes and commission reports. We table motions and repackage funds. We sneer if an uninitiate commissioner suggests stopping to pray, because prayer will interfere with the agenda. Could it be that our very competence hinders us?
And yet, we have little reason for self-confidence.
Our many years of experience and our hoard of certificates have not helped us to avoid the calamity that we face today. Not because experience or intellect are insignificant. But perhaps because great intelligence and impressive CVs are nothing without humility. Our once great missionary church now needs an influx of leaders from oversees to right the ship (but please not those escaping other dying denominations). Yet humility seems lacking in our response to the crisis. Recruitment, committees, commissions, research and training, even injecting money may not save the Kirk unless we excise the hubris.
The Lord owes us nothing for our years of service, for our witness or acquiescence to contemporary Scotland. Our history, although interesting, matters little compared to how we relate to King Jesus today. What would the glorious Lord say to the Kirk if we were the eighth church of Revelation? For a moment forget statistics and secularism, age pyramids and church-going trends, what does Scripture say to God’s people when they face exile and humiliation? Might that be where we should start?