Background to Learn

Learning & Development in our Congregations

The Church of Scotland strives to provide the tools people need for effective worship, witness, mission, and discipleship. The Church aims to enable and empower others to share God's love in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, mindful of the changing contemporary culture of Scotland and beyond.

Following the Congregational Learning Review of 2013, the Church launched the "Learn" initiative to provide discipleship resources and events to local congregations.

Our guiding values

The Congregational Learning Review gave rise to a series of consultations with congregations and Presbyteries in the areas of adult education, learning disabilities, children & young people, rural church, and eldership. The consultations formed our guiding values and will shape the development of resources and services the Council will provide.


Helping congregations connect with one another to strengthen belonging, growth, and mutual encouragement. Connection will help develop confidence in many areas of church life, plus encourage the sharing of local skills and resources.


Developing resources that will build confidence. Resources will be designed for single-user and group settings. In addition, we will signpost to great resources from our ecumenical partners and agencies.


The Council seeks to inspire and encourage active participation in discipleship and mission through collaboration with local congregations and leading practitioners. We aim to deliver events, resources, and online material that help invigorate and inspire our congregations.

Core Activities

The Learn initiative seeks to reach as many congregations in the Church of Scotland as possible. The General Assembly of 2013 instructed the Mission & Discipleship Council to establish a formal network of Congregational Learning Facilitators. Following a series of successful consultations, it was discerned that such a network could not currently be sustained within our Presbyteries, and did not take fully into account the uniqueness of each Presbytery and congregation. In response to that, the Council has established Learn, which will produce learning and discipleship materials through three core activities: events, publications, and online material. By focusing our resources, energy, and staff time on these core activities the Council will deliver quality resources for use in local congregations. These will be made available throughout our Presbyteries, ensuring that every congregation is able to access the work of the Council.

Guiding Values

As already highlighted in this working plan, Learn seeks to connect, resource, and inspire local congregations for discipleship and learning. Both the Review and subsequent consultations highlighted key principles for this area of work, which include:

  • Growing in Christ
  • Strengthening unity with one another
  • Increased understanding of Church
  • Developing skills for Church life
  • Enabling the Church for acts of service
  • Equipping the Church for the future

The consultations highlighted that many Presbyteries and congregations have established programmes and initiatives in this area of church life. Therefore, the Council seeks to develop events, publications, and online resources that work alongside existing local projects. Through our guiding values of connect, resource, inspire, the Council will deliver resources and services that enable and inspire learning that resonates with the articulated principles above.

Learning Streams

To ensure balance within the provision of learning and discipleship resources, we have developed learning streams that help guide the planning of themes and topics covered in our materials. They help shape our conferences and events to provide a range of seminars and activities that are relevant for our Church life together:

  • Christian Life, such as discipleship, worship, prayer, ecumenism, leadership
  • Missional Life, such as Future Focus, caring for creation, welcoming churches, caring churches
  • Church Life, such as Eldership, Session Clerks, ministries of the Church of Scotland
  • Skills & Talents, such as pastoral care, leading a meeting, understanding gifts and talents


An on-going series of fresh resources for congregations to use locally, designed for both single-user and group work. Publications so far have been highly successful. Learn Eldership has sold over 9,000 copies, Learn Exploring Faith over 1,000, How Will Our Children Have Faith over 1,600. Our two latest publications include a free Learning Disabilities Discussion Starter and Tomorrow's Calling.


The Learn initiative will deliver an annual diet of events enabling delegates to connect with one another and with leading voices in respective areas of church life. Designed to inspire and invigorate through a selection of keynote addresses, worship, discussions, and debate with the opportunity to cement our learning in seminars and workshops.

Online material

Our publications and events will have seamless identity with our online content. Additional material, updates and specific online materials will be made available for congregations to use individually and collectively. In time we hope to develop a platform that will allow congregations to make links and connections with another to strengthen the ongoing work of learning and discipleship.

This working plan outlines the guiding values, core activities, and learning streams which were formed through the process of consultation with representatives from Presbytery and local congregations.