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Reaching Scotland: The Cairn Movement

person Alan McWilliams
3 min

‘There is nowhere in the world that the church is growing where the primary focus of the strategy is on church renewal. All round the world the ONLY places the church is growing is where there is a significant and leading-edge church planting strategy.’

(Miraculous Movements, Jerry Trousdale)

I love the church. I serve in the church. I believe in the local church as God’s best plan for saving our nation. But I also believe that Jerry Trousdale is right. We can’t simply keep the existing patterns of church and hope that they will break out of the 8% attendance (pre-pandemic) that we have seen in Scotland. We need a mixed ecology of flourishing existing churches and church plants. But for that to happen there needs to be a radical shift in the strategy of churches in Scotland – and a massive movement of resources too. We need to commit ourselves to investing in a ‘leading-edge church planting strategy’.

In Scotland, we look across the border and see the resurgence of churches in England with many of the big cities now beginning to see net growth again after years of decline. We watch with delight as the Church of England launch their Myriad church planting programme – 10,000 churches to be planted in 10 years – amazing! So how are we going to achieve this in Scotland?

The Cairn Movement is a network of likeminded church leaders, church planters and Christian leaders who are passionate about equipping and training new leaders and pioneers to create new Christian communities and plant churches throughout Scotland and Ireland. We run numerous courses in person and online and put on a calendar of events for collaboration and networking.

We work from a grass roots level and have been able to help and resource some really inspiring projects. In Dundee, a pioneer had a heart for the most marginalised women in her community. Conventional church attendance just didn’t work for these women with chaotic lifestyles and mental health issues. So instead, church was created in living rooms, coffee shops and eventually Trellis church was formed which then started regularly meeting in a local community centre. It very much was a church led by women for women.

In my own church, I was challenged one day by young member who said none of her friends would ever come to this church. She was a snowboarder, and all her friends would be on the mountain on a glorious Sunday morning and not in this building! This was a catalyst and after going through our programme of training, she became a missionary to the snowboarding community. Boarding in such beautiful places created many discussions with God, tipping off the top of a peak were often transcendental moments of meeting God.

Another church in Edinburgh bought a barge, situated on the canal as they wanted to form better connections with their local community and create a different kind of ‘space’ to hold events and meetings to invite people to.

The Cairn Movement, in partnership with Forge Scotland, have trained 165 church planters who have gone on to launch over 100 new church plants and mission projects over the last 18 years. This is by far the largest and most widespread programme within Scotland. It is a great start but there is so much further to go.

This is why we are so delighted to forge a partnership with Stewardship to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for new mission projects and church plants. For this missional work to thrive we also need expertise on charity law, (which is different in Scotland) professional advice on finance, HR, raising funds, governance and training trustees. In our experience, most church planters have the vision, the leadership skills, pastoral experience and biblical knowledge, but they also need a whole set of other skills to create a viable and legal new charitable organisation. This is why Stewardship’s services are so vital and together we can provide all the resources new pioneers and church leaders need.

The harvest is plentiful. The labourers are few – but there are more available. 

Support the Cairn Movement

To find out more about the church planting services Stewardship offer:

Church Planting | Stewardship

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