A former Moderator has officially become the Church of Scotland’s first ever digital minister.
The initiative will be used to attract people who may never have set foot in a “real world” church.
Very Rev Albert Bogle, who was Moderator of the General Assembly from 2012 to 2013 and who already hosts a weekly “Sanctuary First” podcast on religious matters which has a global audience, said: “This role is about getting online worshipers to attend church and also to support those who have no intention to go on a Sunday.
“There is a growing Christian audience online who seek quality content to nurture their faith. My role is about helping to provide an online community for those who have left the buildings and committee structures far behind but not the Church.”
Mr Bogle intends to meet congregations across Scotland to talk to them about the project ask them for their support.
However, he will also hold “offline” sessions for Bible study, music, poetry and prayer.
Mr Bogle, who stood down from St Andrew’s Parish Church in Bo’ness in 2015, said he believed every minister should be equipped with digital media skills but acknowledged that every congregation would have different needs.
He added that there is “a God shaped blank in all of our lives” and said many people were seeking spiritual fulfilment online.
In 2014, the Kirk’s Principal Clerk, Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, challenged the Kirk to find 100,000 new members by 2025 through online platforms when he was Moderator. Dr Chalmers, who preached at Mr Bogle’s “service of introduction” at Trinity Church in Falkirk, said: “What comes next for the Church is fraught with difficulties and it will be scoffed at by some.
“But we cannot dodge the column and avoid a serious discussion about what we mean by ‘being a member’ and about how we add to our membership people who do not connect with what is our existing, traditional pattern of Church.”
A series of lectures being held at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh examining the Kirk’s future are currently being streamed online.