Transforming Scotland – “gospel contextualisation”

This year’s Transforming Scotland events were all held on line, as they took place when lockdown restrictions were still in force. The March gathering looked specifically at the subject of ‘Gospel Contextualisation’ in contemporary Scotland.

Pete Lynas from the EA kicked proceedings off with a call for us to make sure that we are preaching the whole gospel. His observation, born out by other research is that the church has often truncated it’s message which has impoverished its witness. Gospel presentations which start with the fall and end at the cross provide a neat problem and solution; but miss our created purpose, and our eternal hope.

Andy Bathgate is a well-known figure amongst the Scottish churches. When I first met him he was with UCCF, spearheading student mission across Scotland. In more recent decades he has led the work of Scripture Union Scotland – a really significant children and youth ministry. Andy led the second session of the day – this time focussing on the needs of young people and ways of communicating the gospel to them. I was struck by his plea not to stereotype young people and take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to evangelism. I have children who are teenagers or student age, and they are all very different. Andy then broke us into groups to discuss what we have observed in effective youth ministry.

Solas’s Andy Bannister was the final speaker who led us into another discussion time. Transforming Scotland had the zoom call set up so that we were all together for the main talks, but divided into breakout rooms of six for the discussions – which were illuminating and helpful. Andy’s talk on apologetics, or ‘persuasive evangelism’ examined the shift in questions from “it is true?” to “is it harmful?” that we observe in culture today – and the way that in response faithful evangelism must engage minds, hearts and imaginations; and pointing people in need to Christ.

This was an enriching and illuminating meeting of some great minds. We pray that it will be a fruitful session of equipping the churches for more effective ministry. The guests came from the Islands to the Borders, from across the denominations and from all kinds of different ministries. However they were all united by a common conviction that what people across this land need is to encounter Jesus, to believe His gospel and enjoy the blessing and forgiveness of God.