When Reverend Scott McCrum goes to telephone his own church as he’s been locked out while getting his photo taken, he stacks two phones end to end at his ear.

The 37-year-old later admits he has always had two – one for his life as a businessman, one for life as a part-time minister – but now has personal contacts and work mixed up on both.

It’s an example of the two strands of his life stitched together into a shepherd determined to give Old Kilpatrick Bowling Church a future.

At the last Sunday service of 2019, he told parishioners (and later wrote on Facebook) that he would quit his post if he could not balance the books within the year.

The church was without a minister for seven years, but when Scott was appointed to the area, that put up their costs.

Last month, he sent out 10,000 “save your church” fliers to the area, listing their monthly expenses – and appealing for donations or regular standing orders to bridge the £1,100 monthly gap.

In response to his Facebook post, a woman in Leeds set up a regular contribution to the church.

But it isn’t just about breaking even. Scott wants to get that stable footing so he can push for a new £1.5million church hall and restore a core to the community.

The minister says the community expects the church to be there when they need it, but that has to be paid for.

“There is not enough money coming in from the congregation anymore,” he says. “Financially, they were better off when they just had a vacancy.”

The biggest monthly expense is a £3,000 compulsory payment to the Church of Scotland’s head office, covering everything from pay to pensions across the Kirk.

Scott says fewer than 25 per cent of churches are paying for all of them in Scotland.

The running costs for the church don’t include maintenance of an old building, such as new boilers being fitted last month. And there are improvements they simply can’t afford right now.

Scott started giving 10 per cent of his salary back and the church’s efforts have brought the financial gap down from £1,500 a month.

His ideal is to draw no salary at all – and he hopes to pull that off by moving into the property game.

It’s not the minister’s first business. He’s run an AV company, sold cars and been a DJ. He’s a minister who also loves fast cars, though he has replaced his Porche with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI.

“I don’t want to rely on the national church,” he says. “As a church, we should be in a position where we can give money away. The church should service communities in every way.

“It can, and if not, it should find a way.

“I have decided to move into property because I have set up and run several small companies and a lot of what I have done so far has been very labour intensive, rather than a company I can direct but not spend much time on.

“That would give me more time to minister. It would be good to use more head, not hands, and maybe stop taking any salary from the church.”

Scott was first ordained in November 2015 and arrived in Old Kilpatrick in April 2018. But he grew up in a church manse, his father Robert a long-time minister, first as a naval chaplain in Perthshire, then working in Helensburgh and Forfar, where Scott lived from the ages of 10 to 24.

That life taught him an important lesson he maintains at Old Kilpatrick Bowling: keep the church business out of his home.

“I grew up in a manse – the doorbell went constantly,” he explains. “I never knew when it was safe to come down in my dressing gown or to turn my music up. I hated it.

“It was the same being a minister’s kid – if you did something, it wasn’t you, it was the minister’s kid who did it. That’s one of the big difficulties.”

Joyce Dornan, session clerk and treasurer at the church, admits there have been two reactions to Scott’s approach to being so open about their financial need.

She says: “There are people who are against him, but if we don’t do this, the church will be gone.

“We’re letting the whole community see what the church has to pay out. Our savings within a few years will be nothing.

“We need people to support us. If they want the church to be about for them, or for the community, then we need the money to support it.

“Scott is doing his best.”

The former church hall was knocked down some years ago, costing the church the bulk of community activities they once hosted, including the Boys’ Brigade and two dance groups.

Scott has started a mother and toddler group, introduced yoga classes and Slimming World host meetings in their remaining church annex.

The new building could include a games hall, cafe, meeting rooms and space for wedding receptions.

“We have a beautiful building,” says Scott. “A church has been here for 1,000 years.

“I would like to make the church the heart of the community again. Instead of one hour on Sunday morning, I see this building open every day of the week, facilities that can hold services or any activities.”

He accepts there will be considerable doubt as to whether a new hall would ever happen.

Slowly, progress is being made. After a year, land behind the church manse has now been approved for sale. The money would go to the national offices, but held in trust for the church, says Scott. He hopes that would kick-start plans for the new community facility.

But the campaign to build a new facility will only happen if the church sorts its balance sheet first.

“I’m not going to initiate a campaign to build this unless we sort out our deficit,” says Scott. “It’s good for [financial backers] to see the community is supporting the church.

“I think [sorting the deficit] is more difficult than raising the £1.5m.”

While residents have more options for weddings such civil celebrants, Scott says they shouldn’t feel they can’t approach the church simply because they don’t attend.

“It’s a community and a community that cares for its people and for what’s going on in the village. The church should ask what it should do for its community.”

He jokes: “We had a fun day in the summer to provide something for the community – and they thanked me by soaking me with water bombs.”

“If you’re a minister, you feel called to,” he continues. “I turned my life upside down to follow that calling and it was a bumpy road. It’s something you’re in whole heartedly.

“I enjoy ministry and helping people and find that rewarding - and I enjoy business as well. I’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur. The two overlap.

“There’s lots I have learned from business and apply to church. Church is not a business, but in some ways, it could run as a business.”

He adds: “In general, churches are not enthusiastic about change.

“Hopefully within five years, we will be able to look back on some big change.