A modest increase in giving to mission donations could lead to at least one new church plant per year and one new full-time missionary, the General Assembly heard this morning.
Mission Board chairman Rev Alasdair Macleod urged congregations to up their contributions to the Mission Levy, as an extra £50 per month from 100 congregations would create an extra £60,000, with £100 per month from the same figure giving £120,000.
With that latter sum, Mr Macleod believes the Board could centrally fund one new church plant and one new missionary, and still have leftovers to part-fund other missionaries and support some struggling congregations.
The Ullapool minister told commissioners: “Maybe I’m mad but I think these possibilities are so exciting.
“That is why communication is part of our foundational documents for the Board.
"We need to tell our folks about the wealth of exciting works that are taking place at home and abroad.
“We need to inform and enthuse and the support will come.”
Mr Macleod gave an update on the Mission Board’s first year in operation, outlining four key principles.
Firstly the Board’s strategy will be founded on Scripture.
Secondly it will take cognisance of the Free Church’s theological and missionary heritage going back to 1843.
Thirdly, it will be a collaborative approach, as the Mission Board wants the Church to own its vision as a Biblical and historical basis explaining how the Board does what it does, whether at home or overseas.
Fourthly, collaboration will not simply be with Presbyteries but also with other Boards and groups within the denomination.
There was also a lengthy presentation on all of the work the Mission Board is involved in around the world through full-time missionaries, short-term mission and projects supported by mission groups.
Rev Alasdair Macleod began by highlighting the existing international works such as Dumisani Theological Institute in South Africa and Manuel and Patty Reano in South America.
He then went onto outline four new locations of long-term works – Cambodia, Nepal, Italy and Central Asia.
The Mission Board chairman then explained how the Small Grants Fund had benefited those helping in Senegal, Kenya, Nepal and South Sudan – with more expected later in the year.
The outstanding work of Women for Mission, adds projects in Kosovo, Moldova, Uganda, Israel and Glasgow.
Other Mission Support Groups add another significant strand of support, including the Philippines, Cambodia, Peru and Asian ministry.
Mr Macleod was abundantly clear that the Mission Board is not abandoning international mission, and following the evidence presented at the Assembly, it would be nonsensical to suggest otherwise.
He said that the Board greeted all missionary personnel, assuring them of continued support.
The General Assembly gave thanks for the safety and security for all the mission workers over the last year, and prayed for their ongoing wellbeing in circumstances that can be precarious.
This afternoon the extensive Mission Board report will continue to be considered, there will be a discussion session on church revitalisation, and the Assembly will welcome guest speakers from ecumenical partners.