All Church of Scotland congregations are being urged to adopt a daily discipline that is leading to spiritual growth and new followers of Jesus.
The ACORN Programme sees members daily asking God ‘who are you nudging me to reach out to today’, to respond in faith and then share the outcome with their small ACORN group.
Conceived by Michael Harvey, founder of Back to Church Sunday and member of the Archbishops College of Evangelists, this approach to daily mission is seeing ‘ordinary people released in mission’. Michael says, ‘Acorn Groups in one church over two weeks recently had 32 God-conversations with people outside of their church family.’
At their General Assembly last month, the Church of Scotland urged churches to adopt ACORN and so to ‘practise mission at grass roots level, and through support in small groups, to gain confidence in effective discipleship’.
“What I love about ACORN is it is so simple,” says Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator Church of Scotland 2020-2021. “We don’t need months of meetings. Just a little enthusiasm from a few and it could be up and running in any church.”
The decision of the Church of Scotland took account of reports of transformation from congregational members and a survey of 10 weekly ACORN Groups that had been meeting for six months. This showed each person had mostly had a fresh God conversation every week. This added up to more than 1,300 God-focused conversations that would not otherwise have happened.
Michael Harvey says’ “The average ACORN Group of six, over a three week period, reaches 12 unchurched people.
“This is especially relevant at a time when there is an epidemic of loneliness. A recent survey revealed one in four adults can’t remember the last time someone outside their family called to ask how they were.”
ACORN group member Andrew Sutcliffe from Inverness says, “In all the years of being in church his is best thing I have come across – period.”
Church of Scotland minister Stewart Goudie from North West Lochaber church says of ACORN, “I have seen my people transformed by the experience. It is not based on a programme or an individual but on listening to God who wants to connect with others through us.”