“Most churches are firefighting to stay in business” — Dundee minister

© DC ThomsonMr Sharp feels churches throughout Scotland have to evolve.
Mr Sharp feels churches throughout Scotland have to evolve.

A Dundee minister fears the Church of Scotland’s ability to help people in need is at risk.

Locum minister Gordon Sharp, of Dundee West Church, feels churches should be helping in combating social ills such as loneliness, but believes many simply do not have the manpower to cope.

Mr Sharp believes churches throughout the country are currently “stretched” and steps must be taken to address shortcomings.

The locum minister said: “Most churches, to me, seem to be firefighting to stay in business. Running around to keep the building and Sundays going.

“In Western countries Christianity has been in decline for 70 years. Social changes also mean people are making different choices on how to live their lives.

“The church and Christianity in particular have challenges — and it’s not just a shortage of ministers. Overall there’s certainly a decline in membership.There are challenges from all sorts of angles.”

Mr Sharp believes ministers’ time can be freed up by allowing them to focus less on the maintenance of buildings and more on helping communities.

A large chunk of Mr Sharp’s time is spent working on “governance, structures and buildings”.

He believes more ministerial time must be spent “tackling injustice” and building bonds with the community

He said: “I think in many respects the church does not have the capacity it has had in the past. Sometimes we assume it does. With people getting older and with less people, there isn’t always the capacity.

“If people’s capacity is focused on a building or on committees then they don’t have the energy or time to commit to other things.

“So, the structure doesn’t help that focus on social action or on environmental action.”

Mr Sharp continued: “What we try to do here is engage with everybody who wants to engage around those things.

“We can all form one community in dealing with these issues, irrespective of what we believe, irrespective of where we come from

“But we are stretched. We need to recognise it isn’t just about people on the pews.

“We need to connect with communities and bring other people in who want to do stuff. You don’t have to believe in certain things, we’re all human beings trying to make a difference.”

Dundee West Church will host a series of lectures in partnership with Dundee University beginning on Tuesday March 21.

The Progressive Christianity Network will focus on both politics and “economics from a socially conscious perspective”.

For more information visit www.pcnbritain.org.uk or call Gordon on 07341255354.