Broadford Evening Service
Sleat & Strath Free Church is a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland that exists to: (1) promote the Worship of God; (2) provide Instruction for those seeking to live by his word; (3) serve as a place of Fellowship to nurture lives of discipleship; and (4) reach out (in word and action) with the Evangelistic message of the Gospel – to all the people of the communities in the Sleat and Strath districts. Both parts of the congregation were previously separate congregations, and both enjoyed two services every Sunday. In 2001 these congregations merged to become one congregation serving all the communities of South Skye. Since 2009, the congregation has only one morning service in Knock, but has evening services three Sundays a month in Kyleakin, and twice a month in Knock. Our Kirk Session is planning to begin services in Broadford, but realising we cannot do everything, are also planning to end evening services in Knock to enable this. Therefore, we will have a weekly morning service in Sleat (at the church in Knock), and a weekly evening service in Strath (alternate weeks at the church in Kyleakin, and the Village Hall in Broadford).
Ministry Vision and Long-term Considerations
Ministry designed to simply maintain a position (“maintenance ministry”) is not a long term option for our congregation, as the current ministry is a 5-year terminable appointment (due to end in 2014). The Presbytery and Home Mission Board will only recommend that the General Assembly extend a preaching ministry here on the basis of growth – not only financial growth, but numerical growth in the form of new converts and growing attendances. The Kirk Session wants to avoid the temptation to just follow a maintenance ministry, but would rather we put all our efforts into outreach, or “Gospel ministry” – particularly “replanting” a church in the Broadford area.
- Broadford, along with its neighbouring townships, is the second most populous area of Skye after Portree. Broadford therefore has the highest concentration of un-evangelised people in our area.
- Prior to 2000 the Free Church had a work there – although that work diminished over several decades of maintenance (as opposed to Gospel) ministry. We owe it to the prayers and investment of our predecessors to carry on the work of the Gospel in that community.
- We have undertaken a lengthy legal case to re-secure property and assets in the Broadford area. It is be dishonest to God to not make every effort to re-secure a witness to Jesus Christ in the same place.
For these reasons, the Kirk Session has had a long standing desire to renew the work in Broadford. The Presbytery agreed to this plan, in fact they only agreed to allow a ministry to continue in the congregation on the basis of us getting on with work in Broadford. We are already made a start with this re-plant, through the Mustard Seed Café.
Why are we not keeping all our existing services, and doing Broadford in addition?
We are a small congregation, with less than 15 communicant members. That is, only 15 people who are willing to be counted as Christians. Whilst adherents are most welcome to join with us for worship each Lord’s Day (many have shown great commitment in that and some may be converted), they are under no obligation to attend services (while members are obligated). Furthermore, of these fifteen members, roughly a third are either housebound or regularly out of the country or engaged in supply preaching elsewhere. This means that even if no one else is away on holiday, we often have less than 10 believers willing to gather to Worship on a Sunday evening. Dividing that number into two or more smaller gatherings is not something we are willing to do.
Nor are we willing to spread ourselves too thinly, holding many concurrent services in different places. Trying to maintain one well-attended service, rather than many smaller services in more areas is healthier for the Worship of the congregation. Many services inevitably mean the preaching minister is always moving between different places, and (despite excellent lay preachers) this gives little stability or consistency in Instruction. It also undermines the Fellowship of the congregation, as these smaller groups tend to foster narrower, not broader fellowship in the whole congregation. And while such an approach seems like we are “maintaining a witness” in more areas, it tends to be counter productive for Evangelism – as unconverted adherents are often the first to give up on these smaller services.
We are one congregation, and as such, the Kirk Session feels we should approach this new challenge as a family. All members of a family should strive together to the same goals – so the Kirk Session wants to encourage a unified approach to how we meet to Worship.