Christian Life 

Another presbyterian church: bring it on

In relation to recent news regarding a church plant in the Highland capital, a clergyman has written on-line: “Just what we needed in Inverness, a new Presbyterian church”.


“Just what we needed in Inverness, a new Presbyterian church”.

Facebook commentWith the difficulties of interpreting a comment posted in an electronic environment, and made in relation to a new church plant, it is possible to understand the remark (above and opposite) in two quite different ways.

But – assuming for this purpose a positive ‘good news’ sense – in fact I would go much further.
What is needed is a new Presbyterian church in every street. However to clarify that desire, there is a requirement to first address the terminology.

Presbyterian church



The word ‘Presbyterian’ comes from the Greek word 'presbyteros' commonly translated as ‘elder’; and – as applied within denominations and to forms of church government – should, strictly-speaking, outwork in the form of  ‘plural male headship’.
Meanwhile the word ‘church’ should be understood in the simple and biblical sense of a ‘gathering of God’s people’. However both of these words have become corrupted in meaning and in practice.

The (servant) ministry of ‘elder’ was divided by the Reformers into two categories: the ‘teaching’ elder, and the ‘ruling’ elder. This was done to sustain and justify the unbiblical ‘clergy/laity’ distinction which was carried wholesale (albeit with 'fig leaf' title changes cf Matt 23:9) from the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church into the Reformed Protestant Church.

Further damage has been done (and continues to be done) in many cases, by elders being appointed for reasons that have little to do with their spirituality and more to do with their worldly status. Additionally (in some denominations) women have been appointed into ‘headship’ roles. (The point here relates to gender and not levels of spirituality; some of the best men in the church are in fact women.)

Presbyterian Church

Meanwhile the ‘church’ has become so disfigured as to almost defy description.
The biblical meaning of the term 'ekklesia' refers simply to a gathering – small or larger – of a group of believers (cf Matt 18:20).  It does not refer to buildings, clergy, denominations or all the other trappings which organised religion has accrued unto itself.
In the early church we see a radical simplicity operating in the power of the Spirit and blessed mightily by God (Acts 2:42-47). Not so now.
Nowadays, albeit with notable exceptions, we see expensive buildings and paid employees operating in almost identical fashion to secular organisations – complete with hierarchies, badges of rank, status symbols, power broking, money-generating schemes and business-growth models. The spirit of Babel (Gen 11:4) has truly invaded the Kingdom of God.

And of course the ‘get them into the building’ form of ‘church growth’ and the kudos of  ‘numbers', has resulted in the planting of many tares amongst the good wheat.

House churchSo when I say that what we need is a Presbyterian church in every street, what I mean is we need to aim for a group of believers in each and every neighbourhood; operating on the low-cost but highly-efficient, and – if the pages of Scripture are anything to go by – highly-effective forms set out for us in the New Testament.

And within these 'churches', every saint of God  – young and older, men and women  – outworking their ‘ministry’ through their giftings and callings under the servant oversight of mature men – 'elders' from within these groups who nurture and disciple those around them.

Another church; a different church

“Just what we needed in Inverness, a new Presbyterian church!” Yes indeed. Absolutely!

In fact don't stop there. Let us work towards a church in every street – to the glory of God. Churches of saints in the priesthood of all believers in whole-body ministry and as witnesses to the transforming power of Jesus Christ – in Inverness, and in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria; even to the end of the earth.

"And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.

And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Acts 2:46-47

The Editor, 14/02/2012

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Nicolas (Guest) 21/02/2012 10:14
This reminds me of a comment that church planters are always establishing new congregations in the center of cities, not in the sink estates which so desperately needs them.

And there, in the city center, they draw Christians away from other city center churches -- thus the process should be called church re-potting, not planting.
Derek Morrison (Guest) 22/02/2012 07:28
Hi Nicolas,see the link for the work of one Church of Scotland city centre church
rachael cooke (Guest) 22/02/2012 11:20
Great article. I feel the church is vital for believers to build one another up and encourage each other and all the more as we see the day approaching. Heb 10v24-25. The church is necessary for those who are lost; Go into all the world the preach the Gospel. Mark 16v15 Wherever christians are gathered together is the church. Labels are what we have added. I'd like to add the previous verse to what the Editor posted Acts 2v42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Continuing steadfastly in so key and holding to sound doctrine. Hold fast to what is Good!
Nicolas (Guest) 22/02/2012 18:58
Thank you Derek for sharing the wonderful work of East Church Inverness. God bless you in your outreach in so many directions -- including estates!!

I'm not sure if that refutes the point about new "plants" really being "re-pottings". After all, you are not a new establishing congregation, but an old and venerable one.

I guess my real point was that surely people can find existing congregations and denominations with which to work.

BTW, your principal pastor and myself were students at Aberdeen together. Fond memories. Please show him this clip of one of my favorite Christian songs by MercyMe -- and also BE AMAZED at how much the lead singer and Andrew look like each other !!!
Nicolas (Guest) 22/02/2012 19:00

(Forgot to paste the address, right?!)
Editor 22/02/2012 20:01
Nicolas, Just to say (in case you are unfamiliar with the background to all of this) you are right in that the new congregation will - most likely and in the first instance at least - be formed of those who are Christians already i.e. "re-potting".

But the reason behind the formation of the new church is the extent to which those behind the 'plant' (re-potting) are folk (ministers and members) who cannot find it possible to live within the Church of Scotland as a denomination in its present state of outright rebellion against the authority of God.

Additionally, while the new venture is initially located in the town centre, there is no guarantee that it will remain there.

What is certain is that wherever it does eventually settle, it will be within one C of S parish or another. And that will - if the parochial culture is running true to form - cause another round of complaint.
Indeed this factor may be the root of the objections already being made.

Please consider the possibility also, that the chosen 'city centre' location could be the result of objections to (alternative) original plans to locate elsewhere (i.e. not on my patch).
Derek Morrison (Guest) 23/02/2012 07:22
Thanks for kind comments Nicolas, God bless.
Anon (Guest) 13/02/2014 18:54
But the most important question is: How many churches in Inverness use the AV and Metrical Psalms in Public Worship? I only know of 2. The FP and FCC churches
Editor 14/02/2014 09:24
The question is irrelevant.

There are many good translations of the Bible appart from the AV (e.g NASB); there are many fine expressions of solid doctrine (e.g. paraphrases) in sung worship other than the metrical psalms.

The vital question is how many churches in Inverness are preaching the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullest form?

However one of the very big problems in the Higlands is a religious legalism which attempts to put God into a box.

I only say these things in response to the question. I do not say these things to provoke (yet another) discussion on this topic. Everyone has had quite enought of it.

And please note (Anon) I am increasingly inclined to delete anonymous postings (in order to avoid the waste of my time moderating foolish controversies which are of no help whatsoever.
(Guest) 14/02/2014 11:31
However one of the very big problems in the Higlands is a religious legalism which attempts to put God into a box.

Always remembering that God, of His own free will, is 'boxed in'by His own eternal precepts.
Eternal precepts which automatically exclude the illusionary free will of unregenerate men and 'salvation by works' - in any Armenian shape or form - Romanist, Baptist, Methodist, pentecostal, charismatic or presbyterian.
Can I respectfully remind you that salvation - true salvation is via a very restrictive gate - and a very narrow path - and it does tend to give the pilgrim a very 'boxed in' yet very secure feeling.
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Another presbyterian church: bring it on!