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Anchor Points

Friday 29th July 2022

At the United Reformed Church’s recent Ministers’ Gathering a statistical overview was given of where the URC is as it emerges from the pandemic.

The picture presented didn’t come as a surprise and was echoed by similar statistics presented to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a couple of weeks later. The question that once again followed both is “where are the young people?”. Perhaps in 2022 we have to ask more generally “where are the people?”. However, this focus on young people and concern that they are absent from many congregations is not a new narrative.

As I started out as a leader in The Boys’ Brigade at the end of the 1980s, a new resource called Anchor Points was launched by the Church of Scotland. Although it was not designed for exclusive use within the Company age group, this was the target audience. The preface includes this paragraph from August 1988:

“Given the appalling loss of younger teenagers to our Churches at the present time, there is much need to recover an effective ministry among youth. Resource materials are only a small part of the answer to a gigantic problem…”

Struck by the fact that the younger teenagers referred to here are now heading towards 50, most of our Churches are now having to come to terms with the challenges of a lost generation and the impact of a global pandemic.

Over the last 30 years or so I have served on many youth committees, forums and discussion groups. A diverse range of creative ideas have been put forward, supported and mostly implemented in an attempt to address this ongoing desire to have more young people in our congregations. Some had a greater impact than others but if I am honest, they were all short-term projects that for many reasons eventually lost momentum, came to an end and were quickly forgotten about.

There is a great temptation to see the provision of more resources as the answer and in our digital world there is no shortage of easily accessible materials. However, as the preface to Anchor Points correctly identified, resource materials are only a small part of the answer.

The Boys’ Brigade is not perfect, but nothing compares to the positive impact this organisation has had on many lives over the last 139 years and continues to do as a way of being Church and advancing Christ’s Kingdom among young people.

The way I see it is that The Boys’ Brigade is exactly the answer to what so much time, effort and anxiety is consumed to address and come up with. An amazing opportunity for a wonderful organisation with a proven track record.

Rev David Scott

David was a member, a leader and then Captain of 14th Paisley before becoming Minister to Duke Street and Saughtonhall United Reformed Churches in Edinburgh. Shortly after arriving in 2018, he restarted 14th Leith in Duke Street as a response to the opportunity to do so. In September 2022 he becomes Chaplain of Edinburgh, Leith & District Battalion. Before being ordained David was a Chartered Valuation Surveyor working as a partner and director in a small firm based in Glasgow. He is married to Nova with son Fraser, daughter Beth and dog Lachie.

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