An article written for the FIEC website.
From 25th to 26th of March, a group of church leaders met with some of the FIEC Directors to discuss the possibilities for our Fellowship in Scotland. Steve Crosthwaite, Associate Pastor of Newcraigs Evangelical Church, shares his reflections on those 24 hours.
There is a growing sense of movement and optimism for FIEC in Scotland. The Fellowship now has a Scotland Director in the form of Andy Hunter, and the group of 18 leaders from Scottish churches at the 2013 Leaders’ Conference was the biggest yet.
In an attempt to keep building momentum, around 20 of us recently met together for a 24 hour Scottish Forum, eager to renew fellowship and to see what God might do in this nation. Whilst not everyone present was from an FIEC church or in the Pastors’ Network, what we did represent was a mixture of churches in Scotland who share the same desire: to see gospel growth in what was once described as the ‘land of the Bible’.
When you share the same convictions it makes fellowship easy. It was good to continue to get to know people we had met before and meet others for the first time and to talk about what they are doing, share experiences and support one another.
Serving here and now
We got off to a good start with Trevor Archer reminding us from the example of David from 1 Chronicles 29 that we are called to Scotland for this time and generation, and how we need to serve and seek the Lord for it. John Stevens painted a picture of the UK which left us in no doubt of the size of the task ahead. The world has changed, the UK has lost its gospel heart and it’s frankly no longer a Christian country.
Christianity is in decline and our nation is increasingly a secular one where the church has less and less influence in the corridors of power. Evangelical Christians account for perhaps little more than 3% of the UK population and the rapid decline is often matched with an equally rapid compromise on the Bible. Yet we can be optimistic! Churches that are faithful to the Bible are still growing.
We were encouraged to be in it for the long haul, reminded that the UK church has been in decline for 150 years and there is no single answer to the problem. As in the example of David, we are called to serve our generation in the place that we are, sow the seed and develop relationships that may take years to really produce fruit.
In smaller focus groups we considered mission, training and pastoral support. Our discussions highlighted a desire to work together in planting new churches, to spend more time together, and with our leadership teams to think how we may restore confidence in the gospel. We want to see more gospel workers trained and placed in Scottish churches. We want to take time to think creatively about how we support one another and grow the sense of fellowship that is building amongst us.
We also recognised that there are many churches and networks in Scotland that share the same convictions as we do, so we need to think hard about how we grow partnership and not walls as we seek to spread the gospel in this nation.
As we closed and went back to our churches, we left in no doubt as to the challenge ahead. Yet we also left with a great reason for optimism, not only because we are in this together, but because of the wonderful grace of God. We may not be where we want to be but we are ready to roll our sleeves up, be committed to one another and above all be found seeking the heart of the Lord for Scotland. So will you pray with us?