Congregations must increase their giving to the monthly Mission Levy if they wish to see the Free Church’s works in Scotland and overseas expand, the General Assembly will hear next week.
If each congregation were to add £50 or even £100 to their existing monthly contributions to the levy, the Mission Board believe the difference would be “enormous”.
Mission Board chairman Rev Alasdair Macleod explained: “We would love to be able to significantly fund more full-time and part-time missionaries to various parts of the world.
“We would love to be able to release funds for the ministry support in areas that cannot currently afford it.
“But we cannot support these and scores more opportunities unless the congregations of the church pay their Missions Levy, and more, to the work of mission.
“With an expanding portfolio of international works, a steady stream of new congregations joining, new church plants being established and innovative ministry opportunities available, what better time for each congregation to start committing funds each month to the work of mission?
“The difference that would be made if every congregation started giving £50 or £100 per month for Mission, or added £50 or £100 per month to existing Mission Levy, would be enormous.”
Church planting and revitalisation are two key strands of work that the Free Church’s Mission Board hope to take forward over the coming year.
In its first report to the General Assembly since its formation last year, the Mission Board said the denomination needs congregations “that are mission-minded all year round” and that “revitalisation is not simply for those who are borderline in financial viability”.
Mission Director Rev David Meredith (below) is writing materials on revitalisation, which will soon be available, and a discussion session on the subject will take place at the Assembly on Wednesday 25 May.
Chairman Rev Alasdair Macleod added: “Mission in Scotland today is challenging and diverse.
“The secular outlook of the vast majority of Scots means that reaching out with the unchanging message of the gospel engages on a level very different from past generations.
“Past generations could rely on a basic understanding of biblical truth within the general population. This knowledge base does not exist in our time. Recognising this reality will shape our mission and ministry.”
Mr Macleod continued: “Alongside church planting, the Board are developing, through the Mission Director, a church revitalisation strategy.
“It is key to our mission that we have congregations that are mission-minded all year round.
“Revitalisation is not simply for congregations who are borderline in financial viability. Larger, financially secure congregations can become complacent and settle for the status quo.
“Scotland is a nation that is spiritually dark, and so every congregation irrespective of size needs encouragement with a focus to reach out with the gospel light.”
Two new congregations are expected to be welcomed at the Assembly, and there are applications for assistant ministers to the Back, Glasgow City and Smithton Free Churches – all of whom are experiencing growth.
The Mission Board also recorded their thanks at new ministers to lead the respective Stirling and Cornerstone Edinburgh church plants, as well as the pioneering work in Govan and the formation of the relatively new Esk Valley Church near Dalkeith.
In consultation with other stakeholder Boards and committees, the Mission Board is in the process of establishing a church planting committee.
They will help identify suitably gifted church planters and evangelists, as well as developing appropriate training to further equip these individuals and provide ongoing coaching and mentoring.
The Board is seeking people who are eager to bring the good news to communities with little or no Gospel witness, and will have a more comprehensive report on this for the 2017 Assembly.
Further afield, the Board has three “distinct areas” of international mission – historical mission interests, new long-term supported mission and short-term mission projects.
The goal is to see historical mission works in South Africa, South America and India reach indigenisation.
The Board made special mention of Rev Donnie Smith, who retired in December after 40 years of missionary service with the Free Church.
Rev Alasdair Macleod said: “It would be remiss of me not to make personal reference to Rev. Donnie Smith who retired in December 2015 after forty years’ full-time missionary of the Free Church.
“The impact of his work is seen in the remarkable growth of USEL (Lima Evangelical Seminary), and his recognition as one of the foremost leaders in Christian higher education in the world.
“The church owes a huge debt of gratitude to Rev. Donnie and Mrs Julia Smith and pray God’s richest blessing on them and the family.”
Chairman Rev Alasdair Macleod (above) will present the report of the Mission Board to the General Assembly on Wednesday 25 May. Download a copy of the report here.