Go For It Fund helped demonstrate Kirk ‘not just for Sunday’
Published on 21 August 2020
An independent report on the work of the Church of Scotland's Go For It Fund has recognised its success in forming ‘closer bonds' between congregations and communities.
Following the General Assembly's decision to retire the Kirk's Go For It Fund, the Assembly Trustees were instructed to bring forward a closing report sharing the learning that has been gained through the life of the fund, as well as to celebrate all that has been achieved through its funded projects over the last eight years.
Two independent researchers were tasked with evaluating the impact of the fund and have now released their report.
Angus Mathieson, interim head of the Kirk's Faith Nurture Forum, said:
"I am delighted to welcome the Go For It Fund impact evaluation report, which was requested by last year's General Assembly and will be presented as part of the Faith Nurture Forum's overall legacy report at the forthcoming short General Assembly in October.
"The findings of the report, which was independently conducted by external researchers and with thanks to Go For It Fund grant-holders, are gratefully received and will help towards assisting the Church of Scotland in its future missional work."
‘Our church has become more outward-looking'
The Go For It Fund allocated just over £7million in the form of 377 grants to 237 organisations and was open to any Church of Scotland congregation, as well as to voluntary sector organisations and faith-based groups with a close working partnership with a local church.
It was designed to encourage creative ways of working which could both develop the life and mission of the local church and transform communities and congregations.
The evaluative report, which incorporated the results of a survey of grant-holders, found that the Fund had helped to:
1. Communicate the Good News of the Gospel
74% of grant-holder survey respondents agreed that they were ‘exploring a new or different model of mission' (communicating the Good News of the Gospel).
2. Increase recognition in local communities
Churches who received Go For It funding felt they had increased recognition and value in their local communities, with many becoming respected providers of local support, rather than solely as places for Sunday worship.
- 89% of grant-holders surveyed said their community viewed their church as "more outward-looking" and that the image of their church had changed – one respondent said "church is no longer just for Sunday".
- 90% of grant-holders who were surveyed agreed that their congregation interacts more proactively with their local community as a result of receiving Go For It funding.
3. Engage with young people
40% of grant-holders who were surveyed said they had brought more young people into their church congregation as a result of receiving Go For It funding.
- The introduction of Messy Church, in particular, was key for involving children and families in the life of the Church, with one project (The Madoch Centre) developing the idea still further to involve young people in physical activity through ‘Sweaty Church'.
- Go For It-funded projects which focused on work with marginalised young people have been nominated for and have won National Youth Awards (e.g. Arran Youth Foundations and St Paul's Youth Forum) – show-casing the work of the Church and our faith-based projects to a wider audience.
4. Support vulnerable and isolated groups
Through allocating Go For It funding, the Church of Scotland has demonstrated its commitment to tackling social injustice within communities, reaching some of the most vulnerable and isolated groups in society with support, practical help and connection.
- 56% of the 377 projects awarded Go For It grants stated in their funding application that one of their project aims was to tackle poverty and social injustice.
5. Develop strong partnerships
Relationships with well-established Christian organisations such as Scripture Union were strengthened, as well as with local community groups, charities, health, education and social services and education providers.
- For example, a partnership between the Drama Kirk project in Hamilton and the local Business Improvement District (BID) brought benefits to both, with the production values of Drama Kirk's staged performances being greatly improved, and the Church being brought out into the local community. The BID now contributes financially and supports Drama Kirk with promotion of their performances.
The retirement of the Go For It Fund was due to coincide with the launch of a new Growth Fund, which has been put on hold due to the financial uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Church of Scotland's Chief Officer, Dave Kendall, acknowledged the success of the Go For It initiative, and said:
"Our intention had been to introduce a new Growth Fund however in view of the severe financial uncertainties currently facing the Church, the Assembly Trustees took the difficult decision to put that plan on hold for the time being.
"But we do believe there are sound reasons for introducing a system which would make some element of funding available to the local church for pilot schemes. Assembly Trustees, in consultation with others, are in the process of developing plans to support that."
A short General Assembly is due to be held in early October, which will include the presentation of the Faith Nurture Forum's legacy report in full. Please keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages to stay up to date.