Diocesan Synod

Last Saturday was the diocesan synod here in Glasgow and Galloway. I came back from it pretty depressed and with powerpoint fatigue.

Why depressed? Well, I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about hearing conversations about mission being held as though it is inevitable that congregations will shrink, clergy will die off and become rarer and there will be no money to pay for anything in the future. I just don’t believe that is the future that God wants for us. Apart from anything else, this diocese is in relatively good financial health, having been wise virgins these last few years. We have also just begun yet another mission programme, which seems to have gone down well with those who were there. [See here and here]. Is all really doom and gloom?

I’m also weary of hearing presentations on stewardship and then being asked to approve falling provincial budgets. It almost feels as though those who prepare those budgets (for whom I have a great deal of admiration for their diligence and skill) don’t believe that any of the efforts of the various stewardship processes are going to make a blind bit of difference. If that is true, we should not be wasting our time setting up stewardship processes and if it isn’t, we should be challenging the budgets.

Or have I got that wrong somehow? I kind of hope that I have.


  1. I fight this every stinkin’ time I’m in church. The average age of our Vestry is 47, the eldest is 69 and the youngest is 28 (*waves*).

    However, all I hear about is how we are a ‘grey’ church in fear of dying.

    I think it’s too much trust in statistics and not enough in the power of the Holy Spirit. And I will beat that through their heads if it KILLS ME.

  2. Eamonn says

    Conversations about mission that assume the Church is dying are bad enough, but at least the subject is being talked about. It’s worse when the mere idea of having a conversation about mission causes consternation and retreat behind the brocaded curtains.

    If such a conversation is to get going at all, however, we need to be prepared to rethink radically our ecclesiology. It may not be strictly inevitable that decline will continue, but we need to be realistic about the prospects (such as they are) for future provision of ordained ministers and stipends to sustain them. All churches are facing a decline in these areas.

  3. Eamonn says

    P.S. – I’m not leaving the Holy Spirit out of the reckoning, simply saying that sober and realistic thinking is one of the less trumpeted gifts of the Spirit.

  4. I was feeling much the same Kelvin, I was starting to believe all the doom and gloom merchants and wasn’t looking forward to another 3 days of it. I didn’t really think it was the case but when the dripping tap just keeps on going eventually you start to wonder. LYCIG gave me the kick up the backside I was needing to stop listening to the negative and concentrate on the positive and there is lots of that about. If we keep talking about decline we will talk ourselves into it, we need to stop it now!

  5. Mary Sue,

    Perhaps some parts of our church are glad to be grey.

    But seriously, while I applaud the resistance to ‘sociological determinism’ (i.e. decline is inevitable), I think we can also think creatively about our demographics before we chuck out the baby, or the bathwater. It’s time to recycle the grey water.

    Some recent thoughts I had are here:

    (I don’t know how to do that clever trackback thing…)

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