Glasgow Road , Paisley PA1 3PA
Telephone: 0141-889 7060
e-mail: Church Office
Scottish Charity No: SC007484
SHERWOOD GREENLAW CHURCH
LETTER FROM THE MANSE
FROM THE MANSE
Some of you who are fortunate enough, may at this moment in time, be looking forward to your summer holidays! You may even be dreaming about the possibility of sunshine, good food, and plenty of rest and relaxation, or perhaps two weeks of non-stop partying! Some of you may be catching up with members of your family, or you may be going to explore somewhere you have never been before. Sometimes the excitement of going, can be more fun than the holiday itself, as your luxury villa turns out to be no bigger than your garden shed, and certainly not as clean as your garden shed!
Maybe you are no longer able to go on holiday, and so you may just reflect on the fact that our childhood holidays seemed to be sunnier and warmer than they are today, but that is more a trick of memory than harsh reality!
While many of you are thinking about your Holidays the Church of Scotland will again meet in General Assembly. The latest membership statistics continue to show decline, and it has been consistently so for the last fifty or sixty years. Quite simply, if the trend continues, the Church of Scotland as we know it will cease to exist in thirty years.
I am not trying to scare you, but I am merely stating the facts according to our statisticians. Yet, life is not as depressing as they seem to make it. The sad reality is that at different points in the history of Gods’ people we have been down to a handful of faithful people, and somehow re-emerged to proclaim that God is not dead but alive and he has a plan for his people.
I feel the pain of this decline as a minister who for almost the past thirty years has worked at the coalface of the church. I have so much wanted to see the church grow and flourish, and be as strong as it was even in my own childhood. Despite my efforts and the efforts of others, people continue to turn their back on church, and the numbers coming into membership have not balanced those who have departed from this earth.
At a recent Path of Renewal Conference, Tod Bolsinger, said that we cannot stop the decline of membership, nor can we change the church, but what we can do, is change a little bit of ourselves. He suggested that, as the people of God, we have got to keep doing our best and become risk takers, and by demonstrating the courage to try new things that we believe God might be doing in our communities. He suggests that in the past we have tended to shift the blame to other people, which means nothing ever changes, but by taking responsibility and agreeing to change the one thing we can change, God continues to sow seeds and work through us. If others like what we are doing, they might then be willing to join with us on this Path of Renewal.
Not every summer was sunshine filled, nor does every statistical return tell us about the health or otherwise of God’s people. Yet, by remaining true and faithful to God, we have the opportunity to bring a little bit of heaven to earth! Now there is something worth pondering. In what ways can you help bring a little bit of heaven to earth.
DAILY PRAYER SERVICE FOR LENT
Throughout the season of Lent, we experimented with a service of Daily Prayer at 1045 each day. Over 80 people attended the service at some point, and we averaged about twelve people attending each day, with some days attracting as many as twenty five! The purpose of the service was to encourage a rhythm of prayer in the life of the congregation, and those attending on a regular basis, certainly sensed the development of this rhythm of prayer at work in their own lives.
Firstly, I want to express my thanks to all who came along to at least one of the services, and to those who helped to lead the services on the days I was unable to attend. Secondly, I am currently talking to those who attended the services to find out why they came and what we might do next with this service. Thirdly, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has anything else to add to what we might do to develop this rhythm of prayer, which is fundamental to the work we do as part of Path of Renewal.
So if you have anything to add, email me your thoughts, or speak to me when the opportunity arises..