The missional parish

"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2.47


Tom Allan returned from the war and took up parish ministry with gusto. He was immediately struck by the chasm separating his comfortable congregation from the surrounding community, which was spiritually starving but indifferent towards a church which seemed itself to be indifferent to the needs of those outside its walls. So Tom set about addressing the mutual indifference, through an ambitious programme of visitation. The result was immediate: membership grew from just under 500 to over 600 in one year!


Harping on his success, Tom recruited seasoned evangelist, DP Thomson, and together they deployed a team of volunteers, recruited from Thomson's Seaside Mission stalwarts. 2,000 homes were visited, the fruit of which was another 100 members for the church. More important than the numbers, the two evangelists recognised the need to "make disciples", in other words to nurture new believers so that they were growing in faith and grace and not simply filling the pews. Again the results were significant: a Congregational Group of enthusiasts was formed, which become the nucleus of the Glasgow Churches campaign of 1950, which Tom chaired. The increase from that campaign was 800 in Tom's North Kelvinside parish alone.


Such rapid growth could have been short-lived were it not supported by an equally energetic effort to develop supportive structures, while opening fresh avenues of service for new believers to express their faith and activate their gifts. At the same time a rear-guard action was needed to address the concern of those comfortable stalwarts, who were not as pleased with the transformation of their church as might have been expected: "plus sa change..."!

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