The concept of an ideal, flourishing church has long been a subject of contemplation and aspiration. From its inception, The Church of Scotland has been envisioned as a beacon of love, compassion, and community, embodying the teachings of Christ in its actions and ethos. There’s hardly room here to assess whether that envisioning has always worked in reality!

But how do we recognise when a church truly achieves the essence of what it is called to be? By ‘church’s calling’, we refer to the unique purpose and mission that each congregation is called to fulfil in its community and the world.

A church that embodies its true calling is not just a place of worship, but a vital part of the community. It reaches beyond its physical structure, helping the marginalised, the downtrodden, and the oppressed. It strives to be a catalyst for positive change, advocating for justice, compassion, and empowerment for those in need. This active engagement in society is a testament to the church’s commitment to its calling.

Moreover, a church, as it’s called to be, is not just a place of worship, but a vital part of daily life. It reaches beyond its walls, helping individuals in times of need and encouraging them to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and spiritual development. The church becomes a wellspring of wisdom, of learning, and of support, fostering an atmosphere where you can flourish in your faith and better understanding of your place in the world.

An authentic church is marked by a culture of love in action. It moves beyond rhetoric and theoretical discussions to enact love in tangible ways. This love is manifested through acts of kindness, generosity, and selflessness within the congregation and in its outreach to the wider community. The church’s love is not limited by borders or conditions; it is a boundless force that permeates every aspect of its existence.

A church, in its truest form, is an embodiment of humility and accountability. Humility will be a mark of church but sitting alongside that will be a quiet confidence in the ongoing truth of the Gospel as being the ‘ever relevant’ expression of God’s love for the world – and therefore for church, a willingness to proclaim that Gospel. It acknowledges its imperfections and is willing to engage in introspection and growth. It actively seeks your feedback, listens to your voice, and demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement. It recognises that to truly fulfil its calling, it must evolve and adapt to address your changing needs and those of society.

Lastly, a church living out its calling is an incubator of hope and inspiration. It sparks a flame of optimism in the hearts of its members and the wider world, demonstrating through its actions and endeavours that a better, more compassionate world is not just a distant dream but an achievable reality. It becomes a lighthouse illuminating the path towards a brighter future, instilling faith in the potential for positive change and collective upliftment.

When we witness a church that embodies inclusivity, service, growth, love in action, humility, and hope, we can recognise that we are in the presence of a congregation that is truly living out its divine calling.

Read more about Faith Action’s Leadership Team’s Vivid Vision