We know that our vision cannot become a reality without the power and work of the Holy Spirit opening hearts. But we also realise that without us taking opportunities to witness, hearts are not going to be opened. Everything presented in this mission plan is understood to be entirely dependent on the blessing of God. Congregational prayer is therefore central to our vision of a Church serving God together, through fellowship in the Gospel. Our plan for growth is focused largely on integrating new people into our existing congregational life and, as that commitment grows, supporting them in other, ideally evangelistic, works of their own. That support is chiefly expressed through preaching and the ordinary means of grace – Lord’s Day worship, the sacraments, prayer meetings and supporting personal Bible study.
We have two main emphases in this:
1. Outward Looking Evangelism
We have adapted aspects of the London City Mission evangelism scheme to be tailored to our (more) rural setting. This means we are:
- Equipping Christians to know and tell the Gospel
We do this through use of resources like Christianity and Discipleship Explored; preaching which is generally pitched to seekers or young Christians; and a mid-week meeting devoted to adding depth in knowledge. We are, in effect, trying to move away from a “minister as elite solo evangelist” model of outreach, to one where the minister has a role in equipping the saints for works of ministry.
- Creating opportunities to build relationships in the community
Like many believers in our post-Christian society, we have few natural opportunities to build relationships with outsiders to the level of trust that enables personal evangelism. In Broadford we have established The Mustard Seed Cafe – a weekly community cafe, meeting in the village hall – as a way of building relationships. In Sleat we have thus far worked through relationships among younger people, many of whom work in the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig.
We also have plans to make more effective use of hospitality outreach events. We have struggled with this up to now but as we have seen recent growth, we are confident more people will create more opportunities.
- Walking alongside seekers
We do this principally through Christianity Explored. Where we have struggled is in effective follow up with CE people who have not graduated to regular church attendance. We plan to commence a monthly seeker small group, which we called CE+, in the New Year. Quite independent of formal church organisation, we are also fortunate to have a growing number of more experienced believers who run small group bible studies in their own homes. While we are able to support these, we don’t organise or supervise them.
2. Building a Covenant Community
While the LCM evangelism scheme shapes our outward growth, we are also seeking to build a covenant community through inward growth. We are doing this through:
- Evangelising Families
We have a growing number of families attending services, where the wife is seeking, or converted, but the husband does not attend, or seems apathetic to the Gospel. This is one area where there might be incredible fruit, but we are struggling to find effective ways to minister. Currently, the most sensible approach seems to be supporting a wife’s healthy witness at home – but we are looking at additional tools in this, like the parenting course recently run in Lewis and Aberdeen.
- Youth Ministry
We have a healthy Sunday School which currently functions in partnership with the local Church of Scotland. The current roll has 26 names, although attendance is normally about 15. We run an annual holiday club and a monthly teens’ group. We are presently planning to add to this with a youth club, again in partnership with the Church of Scotland.
- Supporting Parents
Quite aside from supporting wives in their home witness, and teaching kids through the Sunday School, and other youth ministries, we recognise that kids are principally shaped by the teaching they get at home.
- Reaching “Adherents”
We have a large number of long-term adherents, who contribute to the congregation in many valued ways. A feature of our ongoing work and witness is seeking to reach this constituency with the Gospel – so that they will believe, come to assurance, or overcome the bad theology that is hindering their progress to profession and growth in the faith.
We are confident that with these priorities we are on the right track to redeveloping the work in Sleat, and also replanting the church in Broadford.