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02 April 2014

Let’s share the gospel, says Church of England

Let’s share the gospel, says Church of England

A new evangelism task group has formed within the Church of England. After the March General Synod approved the motion by the Archbishop of York to "re-evangelise" England.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, chaired the first meeting of the group on 24 March at Lambeth Palace, calling for reaching out to be made a priority for the Church.

The Archbishops' evangelism task group comprises of experts and practitioners in evangelism and representatives from Alliance member organisations such as Soul Survivor, Church Army and All Souls Langham Place. It intends to encourage and equip every church and Christian to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

During its first meeting the group considered how it can affect and encourage the Church in the short, medium and long term. It is expected that the group will meet five times during the first year.

Archbishop Justin identified evangelism and witness as one of the three priorities for his ministry, saying: "It is the task of this group to see every church and every Christian embrace their calling to be those who proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. Nothing quite brings energy and renewal to a church than seeing people come to faith."

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: "Next to worship, witness is the primary and urgent task of the Church. Compared with evangelism everything else is like re-arranging furniture when the house is on fire. Making disciples is at the heart of our Christian faith and our Anglican tradition."

Confidence in the Gospel, an Evangelical Alliance campaign, was launched in March 2012 asking whether churches in the UK are as confident in the gospel as they should be, and seeking to help them create a more gospel confident culture among believers.

The Alliance identified that while mission is clearly at the heart of what many churches are doing, talking about our faith as Christians is proving increasingly difficult.

Results of research carried out into this by the Alliance showed that: "There is a high perception that non-Christians are not interested in talking about spiritual things, despite almost 90 per cent having experience of conversations which turn to spiritual or religious questions. This all indicates a clear lack of confidence".

Points for action included building relationships in the workplace, moving out of the Christian 'ghetto' to befriend people who are not Christians and improving the public image of the Church which is often quite poor.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance concluded "Evangelicals are good news people, but in order to move beyond mere survival in the 21st century, the Church needs to rediscover a passion to share the gospel, fostering friendships with people who are not yet Christians rather than staying within the safety of church circles".

Responding to the formation of the Archbishops' evangelism task group Krish Kandiah, executive director of churches in mission at the Alliance said: "We pray that this new task group will be fruitful as it seeks to build confidence in the gospel."

Archbishop Justin's advisor for evangelism and witness, Rev Canon Chris Russell, said: "We will attempt to shine a spotlight on best practice and do all we can to put those tools in the hands of the many. It is about bringing all the influence we can to bear, rather than being a command and control centre telling churches what to do."

More about the Synod motion