Joining our paid staff, 100+ volunteers work weekly to keep Fullarton ConneXions ticking. The photos are from our 2nd annual volunteers ‘Thank You Party’. Until reading the book ‘Canoeing the Mountains’ the best description of our recent journey at Fullarton Church & ConneXions was ‘building an airplane in mid-flight’. But each page of Bolsinger & Tod’s guide for ‘off map’ adventuring, is like a mirror, describing the journey we’ve been on at Fullarton, since arriving 29 years ago. The conventional canoes, which we expected to carry us down the other side of steep mountains, became redundant in the face of major quakes in culture, society, generation, technology, etc. The last 3 decades have seen our world change dramatically and we, the Scottish Christian Church, have struggled to adapt and adventure.

Over these years at Fullarton, proving competent in the ‘bread & butter’ relational, pastoral and ministerial stuff built the necessary trust with congregation, funders & community partners, to journey ‘off piste together’; indeed the reason Dorothy & I are still in Irvine is the willingness of God’s people to try new routes and approaches. I am humbled and excited by how ConneXions is growing and connecting with so many people and groups as a hospitable social enterprise and creative community & cross-roads for ‘caring relationships’. Daily hundreds of people cross our threshold and allow us together to experience and explore something of God’s Love in Christ.

Sport & Youth Work are 2 of the ways we connect with people, particularly with the help of our sports development worker Stuart Forsyth and Youth and Community (YaC) worker Lindsey Forsyth. In our recent parish visitation we found a large groundswell of support for the possible building of YaC & Sports space (multi-purpose hall) behind our present car park, to further grow the ConneXions’ cause & community and complement existing provision in the area.

It’s heartening to have younger people in their 20’s & 30’s starting new initiatives like Messy Church (Young Families), Parents & Toddlers, Encounter (18 – 30’s), complementing initiatives like our Job Club, Action Group (for people in their golden years), Musical Minds (Alzheimer Scotland) and ‘addictions work’. The major ‘sea change’ for churches in recent decades is ‘that we can’t expect people to come to where we are’. Like Jesus who comes to be with us we must reach where the needs, cares and concerns really are, to where people truly are and are at.

As ‘Canoeing the Mountains’ puts it:

“We can and must inspire the next generation to go where we have not. We can create the kinds of communities and organisations that encourage risk, humility, learning and experimentation. We can read, study, encourage and embolden emerging leaders by offering them prayers, support and opportunity. We can remind them that maps change, that mental models are always incomplete, that the leaders of the future are the learners, not the experts, of today. We can call them to experiment, and we can create the conditions for a church that is always, always, always focused on continually being transformed into the very likeness of Jesus.” (pp. 222-224).