The Board of Ministry report to the General Assembly struck a cautionary note on the state of the Church in Scotland and raised concerns about the low numbers entering the ministry, particularly within the Free Church of Scotland.
"37% of Scots claim to have no religion. Fewer than 9% attend any kind of church and it seems likely that less than 1% of our nation regularly hears faithful biblical teaching. Yet the numbers undertaking training for gospel ministry are relatively small."
"Since the last General Assembly, the Board of Ministry has recognised only two new candidates for the ministry, although we have some applications in process from other enquirers."
Although overall attendance in the Free Church has steadily been on the rise in recent years, many congregations are without a resident minister.
"The Church has about twice as many vacancies as qualified personnel
available to accept a call. It seems unlikely that God is failing to call a new generation of gospel workers for his Kingdom work in Scotland, so we as a Church should be deeply concerned as to why so few candidates are coming forward for service in the Free Church. Other denominations face similar challenges, so it may be beneficial to have an honest discussion in our Kirk Sessions and in the General Assembly about the causes and remedies for this problem."
For those currently in ministry, the Board said they were keen to "encourage a supportive culture of mentoring and mutual accountability among the ministers and members of our presbyteries."
The report reiterated the commitment of the Board and the Pastoral Support Worker Rev. Alex J. MacDonald, to the well being of all ministers and their families. "The support of our ministry families should be a priority for us as we learn how to care for each other in good times and times of trouble and distress."
"The Board thanks Rev. Alex J. MacDonald and the members the Panel of Pastoral Care which he convenes, for all their work on behalf of the Church. Mr MacDonald will be invited to address the General Assembly. We encourage individuals and Church courts to contact him for his help and advice."
Click here for the full report.