Church of Scotland could ‘drift into irrelevance and obscurity’

Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr John Chalmers
Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr John Chalmers
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An Honourary Chaplain to the Queen has warned that the Church of Scotland could “drift into irrelevance and obscurity” unless it is prepared to modernise.

The former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr John Chalmers, has used the next edition of the institution’s in-house magazine to argue that worshippers should be able to interact with the church in a variety of more modern methods - including using technology and smartphones.

Writing in Life and Work, he said: “A whole new generation cannot be separated from their smart phones and tablets.

“In these there is the power to help to sustain people on their spiritual journey and nourish their inner life.

“The purpose of God is not about saving denominations or institutions from extinction and the mission of church is about building communities of justice and peace and love - the Church of Scotland can be a part of that mission or it can drift into irrelevance and obscurity.”

According to a study published earlier this year, it was revealed that the number of people who regularly go to church in Scotland has halved during the last 30 years.

It is thought there are around 390,000 people in Scotland who go to church, reduced from 854,000 in 1984.

Dr Chalmers added: “Patterns of living are not going to shift back in time, so, space for spiritual reflection and development now need to take on a different form, and they need to be built into the rhythm of life as it is, not as we would wish it to be.

“So, the buildings that we decide to keep, the resources that we decide to develop and the structures that we decide to maintain must, it seems to me, be tested against their capacity for enabling us to be a people who express our faith through love.”