Church of Scotland leaders have been challenged to try and boost membership numbers by 100,000 by 2025.
The challenge was thrown down by the Right Rev John Chalmers, moderator of the General Assembly, who wants the Kirk to embrace “radical change” and use the Internet to attract people who rarely attend church services.
He has called on the Church to redefine membership in a way which reflects a growing online Christian audience.
The Kirk has a substantial membership when compared to other organisations including the SNP but numbers have dwindled in recent years, largely due to deaths.
Official figures published in May showed there were 398,389 members as of December 31 last year – down from 445,646 in 2010.
One of the biggest challenges facing it is attracting new preachers and it is at risk of being short of 200 ministers by 2024.
Mr Chalmers said: “I am fed up with the Church of Scotland publishing annual statistics which highlight a decline in membership when the truth about the number of people who belong to our faith communities is, in reality, quite different.
“I want, therefore, to open the New Year with a very serious challenge for the Church of Scotland.
“I wonder if we might not set ourselves a target of achieving 100,000 new members in the next 10 years.”
Mr Chalmers said renewing the Kirk would bring all the new ministers that it would ever need.
“It might pain me to say it, but it’s time for a radical change and I don’t mean a change of hymns, or a visually aided sermon or a new time of day for traditional forms of worship,” he added.
“I want us to explore how people might be able to belong to the Church of Scotland rooted in reality, which can interact with them in the context of an online community, but also be there for them when they need real human contact.”
Hannah Mary Goodlad, who has been appointed the next moderator of the National Youth Assembly, has urged ministers to draw inspiration from the preaching style of an Aberdeen churchman to try to attract new members.
The 24-year-old of Aberdeen said the Rev Scott Rennie, of the city’s Queen’s Cross Church, encapsulated the kind of characteristics that attracted young Christians.