A Gospel Famine
There are still some “old-timers” in Scotland who still reverently recall the five-year, Hebrides outpouring that started in 1949. I’ve been told that you can still hear something divinely stirring in their voices. These “old-timers” are an ever-reverent remnant, still speaking of having met with Jesus on their own Scottish soil. To the ears of the current generation, this seems so very far-fetched. Herein lies the challenge; Scots, like many other peoples, don’t know who they long for.
The church in Scotland has withered in size while skyrocketing in age. Currently, 42% of church goers are over age 65. In the year 2000, there were 620,000 who called the church “home”, and only 390,000 did so in 2016. If no changes take place by 2025, there will only be 290,000 worshippers in Scotland, which is only 5.3% of the population. Even the laborers are few; 43% of church leaders are responsible for more than one church.
Scotland boasts many magnificent church buildings beneath soaring steeples that have outlined city skylines for centuries. Yet, many churches are more museums and monuments to the past than they are makers of disciples today. So much for the bad reality. What is the good news?
Scotland’s people are beautiful and resilient, a people with a deep heritage of overcoming adversity and oppression. Now is the time for overcoming. Simply put, the solution is the reintroduction of the gospel to a thirsty people for the glory of God. If the gospel were shaken out and dusted, the nation would shake from its power. It is a good thing when complicated, long-standing dilemmas require such a simple solution. The gospel is the power of God and Scotland is primed to receive it from those who are not ashamed of it. Scotland needs heralds of truth primed to expect a spiritual awakening from a decades-long, deep sleep.
Two such heralds are Pastor Nathan McConnell and his wife Courtney. Nathan pastors Downfield Main Church in Dundee as Courtney shares the gospel in the city’s schools via a movement called Scripture Union. Over the next week, I hope to get a foretaste of the spiritual feast being prepared in the heavenlies as “my” church partners with Downfield Main to bring the gospel to a spiritually anemic city.
Today, my exploration begins where it should. Not in a sanctuary, but in a schoolroom with youngsters discussing life, morality, and meaning. We will likely discuss politics, current events, and what it means to believe in Someone even more than we have grown to believe in ourselves. Great movements start small and they go very deep before they are widespread and expansive.
In a nation hungry for spiritual leadership, one must expect that nearly every encounter with someone younger is an encounter with one who is called to carry the torch. Today, I hope to meet a future leader in the church, some fair-skinned kid who will sell out for the gospel and burn with passion for reaching his or her own people. Today, I need to be more than a tall guy from America or an interruption in an otherwise regular schedule. Today, like you in your encounters with people, I need to be an exception to a long-established “normal”. Maybe, through prayer, you and I can be a source of deeply necessary illumination in an otherwise spiritually overcast soul. Results to follow.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the… (Romans 1:16)
-Dr. Gary Hewins,
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