Can a church turn around?

The following was written in 2006 to describe the turnaround which had taken place in the RP church in Airdrie over the previous 12 years. Many of the things that were true of the church in Airdrie could also have been said of the church in Stranraer.

We're grateful to have had the input of two men who experienced the transformation of the congregation in Airdrie serving as interim elders in Stranraer and are confident that what God has done elsewhere he can do here.

 The Airdrie congregation today

"What’s the purpose of church? Why does it exist?

It’s a question we had to face a few years ago as it became clear that our church was dying. Attendances were falling year after year, reaching a weekly average in the 20’s, and an average age in the 70’s. People would ‘come to church’ on a Sunday morning, but beyond that there wasn’t any real interest in being together as the church.

As we began to face the question of what could be done, we were soon reminded that the church is God’s, not ours. This in turn led us to realise that unless we did things his way, our descent into oblivion would continue. So we stopped doing things just for the sake of doing them, and started focusing on what God wants from his church. This didn’t happen overnight, it took time. First we concentrated on getting everyone to enjoy worshiping God twice on a Sunday, morning and evening. Then we considered how we could help one another in our study of God’s Word, which gave rise to weekly Bible studies in people's homes, and in the past couple of years we have been encouraging each other to meet together for prayer on a Sunday morning just before worship. The result - God has been transforming our church. We are no longer a small group of elderly people wandering fairly aimlessly along. We now have a clear sense of our purpose as a community of God’s people.

This change in focus has seen God bring new people into the church, people from all sorts of different backgrounds but with one thing in common - a desire to know more about God."