What is the Free Church?
We are made up of a wide range of different people, of all ages and from different social and religious backgrounds, with different gifts and abilities, who are followers of Jesus. As we depend on God, we can love Him, love each other, and love everyone around us. Our church communities are for everyone – you will be most welcome whether you are a Christian or not, if you have faith or are searching for answers, feel lost, alone, or are simply inquisitive!
We have a network of around 110 congregations all across Scotland and over 12,000 of us gather at services every week to worship God, but our Christian faith affects all of our life, not just a Sunday at church.
We believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it should be central in all that we do. It tells us about Him, about the world in which we live, about ourselves and, most importantly, about the good news of Jesus and how he has come to rescue us from sin and death. Everything from our patterns of worship to our church structures seeks to reflect clear Biblical teaching.
Our mission is not to grow an organisation. Nor is it to become just another club or group within the community. We exist because of Jesus Christ. We want to fulfil his commission to us to “make disciples”. That means we share his message so that men, women, boys and girls would know, love, follow, worship, confess and serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. It is the only message that gives life, a life described by Jesus as lived to the full (John 10:10) and eternal (John 17:3).
A Free Church worship service
When we meet together for public worship, our services are straightforward – the Bible is very central. We pray and sing to God together as part of our worship. The preaching and teaching is always focused on what God says in the Bible, because we believe it remains a living and active word from God for today.
We love meeting together for our church services because we are part of a community together – we worship, learn, love, forgive, succeed and fail together – with Christ at the centre of our community.
Our aim is to worship and learn more about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as growing more like him in our day-to-day lives.
What does the Free Church actually do?
The central focus of our worship is Jesus, and we seek to proclaim his life, death and resurrection. Because the Bible is the word of God, it has an important place in our lives. At each service, it is read and explained by the minister so that we are better-equipped to be followers of Jesus in our everyday lives, together and apart.
We believe that prayer changes things, and many congregations meet during the week for a time of prayer and Bible study.
We try to share the message of Jesus with everyone and to show his care and compassion in practical ways in our communities and further afield, throughout the world.
Although most of our services take place on a Sunday, there are many activities and small groups taking place throughout the week – these vary from congregation to congregation. Some congregations have cafes, youth groups and other forms of community outreach, and these more informal settings are a great way to get to know others and grow together.
As followers of Jesus, we have given our whole lives to him. He wants to transform us from the inside out so that in our day-to-day lives, we love God first and then love others before ourselves. It means that, with God’s help, we fight against being selfish, greedy, mean, judgmental and every other sin in our hearts, and we want to see a society that is being changed by God’s love and power. We live to serve God in our neighbourhoods, workspaces and communities by serving others, and sharing his values of love, justice and equality.
How is the Free Church structured?
One of the great needs of our day is the need for connection, for a sense of belonging. As a church we believe that every congregation is responsible for the spread of the good news in its own location, and yet we believe that every local congregation is connected to every other, comprising one church, belonging together. The Free Church expresses that connection in a Presbyterian system. That means that each local congregation is led by a group of elders (the New Testament Greek word for elder is presbyter, hence ‘Presbyterian’), at least one of whom has been trained and given specific responsibilities for teaching and preaching. Together the local elders are known as the Kirk Session. Each local Kirk Session is represented at a regional level at a meeting called the Presbytery, and each Presbytery is represented at a national level at the annual General Assembly. In this way the Free Church seeks to ensure that we share a common vision, are able to offer support, and remain accountable to one another as members together of the Body of Christ, the Church.
What does the Free Church teach?
The congregations of the Free Church of Scotland are united in our theological teaching, our evangelistic focus and our desire to serve our God in our local communities. The Bible is central to our teaching. Ever since the earliest days of the church, Christians have laid out their beliefs in brief ‘creeds’ or ’confessions’ in an attempt to summarise essential Christian truths and to guard the church from error. These statements are always secondary to the Bible but they are enormously helpful.
A full summary of our teaching is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith.