Sunday, 10 September 2017

Living in Harmony as God's People (transcript of sermon 10/09/2017)

St Anne’s Brown Edge 10th September 2017



Shortly after my sixth birthday my father was killed in a road traffic accident. That left my mother to look after three young boys. My mother also suffered from a severe heart condition and so spent long periods in hospitals. Therefore my two older brothers and I would often spend some time during the summer at a Children’s Home. One of the Children’s Homes was in Lytham St Anne’s. One day when we were all playing another boy bit me. I was taken into a kitchen type area and the wound was dressed and I was consoled. Then the boy who had bit me was brought in and made to stand in front of me and his shirt sleeve was rolled up. I was then told to bite him back, which I couldn’t and didn’t.

The idea was a kind of tit for tat – or to use a Latin term – Lex Talionis.  

Or from Exodus 21.23-25

"But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise…”

The basic principle behind this was a good one – in effect it was saying, no more than an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

However Jesus often had a different take on things and offered another way to live as an authentic human being and to live together in community and in harmony.

And so we have this passage from Matthew’s Gospel talking about the conduct of the small communities of Jesus’s disciples that were emerging during his time as an itinerant preacher, teacher and healer.

In these new communities disputes were to be sorted out in a different kind of way.

This side of glory, human beings will have the occasional spat or dispute, often caused by a misunderstanding.

Jesus says that it is important how we handle such matters. In most cases it will be only a slight matter or issue and can be quickly dealt with by an apology and forgiveness.

However there will be issues that we simply cannot shrug our shoulders and say, o it doesn’t matter, because it does matter.

Bad behaviour, unkind words, deliberate denigration, all these and much more besides are poisonous and need to be faced, dealt with and forgiven with restoration of fellowship as the aim and goal.

Very sadly I could mention church fellowship after church fellowship where such disharmony and dis-ease has been allowed to creep in and poison the fellowship and harmony amongst brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is partly what lies behind the sharing of the Peace. 

‘…Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother or sister; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5.23-24

If you have fallen out with someone, or had some kind of dispute or spat, it would be perfectly right and proper as you came into Church this morning, to have a quiet word with me to hold the Service and for us to pray quietly while you make peace with the person whom you have offended or whom has offend you.

And the sequence of steps outlined in this passage demonstrates the seriousness of getting this right – of living in peace and harmony with each other.

It starts with an individual face to face.

Then moves on to involve others as witnesses.

And finally, if reconciliation cannot be reached, moves on to the point of putting that person out of the fellowship.

If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone, writes Paul in Romans 12:18

And in Romans chapter 13, which we heard today, Paul picks up a similar theme with instruction for the small and fragile Christian communities’ in Rome.

We must always bear in mind that society at that time was deeply stratified. 

One scandalous feature of the emerging Christian Communities was the mixing of classes – ‘for all are one in Christ Jesus.’

What this meant, what it looked like and how to make it real, is the subject of many of the Letter’s in the New Testament.

We are probably all familiar with Jesus summary of the Law and what we sometimes refer to as the Golden Commandments…

Mark 12:30-31
 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This is picked up here by Paul when he writes about love being the fulfilling of the law.

‘Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.’

However ‘love’ here needs to be balanced with the passage from Matthew we have just been thinking about.

Love is tough and love occasionally has to say no.
It is never a matter of easy going compromise and perhaps saying, so what’s the harm, it does not really matter.

You might recall the story some years ago of a mother who son at the age of nine, if I remember correctly, weighed about 13 stone.

The authorities were threating to take the child into care if she didn’t sort things out. However she said, but he loves his food, crisps and burgers and chips. She thought she was being a loving mum, but in fact she was killing her own son by a misguided understanding of love.

Remember the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under Archbishop Desmond Tutu when the apartheid regime in South Africa was dismantled.


Truth about the horrors committed by all sides had to be brought into the open, spoken about and acknowledged. Only then could there be a move towards forgiveness and reconciliation.

You see, in the time of Jesus and of Paul, as now, we are supposed to be a light shining in the darkness.

We are called to demonstrate how to live as authentic human beings and how to live in love and harmony and community together as God’s people.

Jesus calls us to love each other in the Community of Faith

‘…A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

And it is from this Faith Community, with love, peace and reconciliation at its very heart and core that we open up our doors and invite others in so that they can see and taste that the Lord is good.

Sadly, many of our Churches are full of rancour and bitterness, of people complaining because we do not sing this hymn or that song any more, or because we do that or because we now do this.

Is it little wonder that people may look at us and say, I have enough stress and arguments in my life already; I do not want to add to them by becoming involved in Church if that is what they are like.

So here are a few questions by way of a conclusion.

What first attracted you to this Faith Community – to this Church – and that applies whether you are here for the first time today, or have been coming for years.

Then, what do you think would attract more people to come and join us?

Then, what might we do to make ourselves more attractive, available and accessible?

And if you are new here today then you are exactly the right kind of people to help answer this question.

This is why it is important to make the Gathering Alan has arranged for the 16th September, a top priority with a wide invitation for everyone and anyone to come along. So that together we can discern the will of God for His Church, whether you have been labouring in the vineyard all day or just for one hour!


‘…A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”


Now let us stand to share the Peace

Monday, 14 August 2017

Get out of the boat and follow Jesus? (Transcript of Sermon)



Sermon St Anne’s Brown Edge 13th August 2017


Psalm 85.813  1 Kings 19:9-18  
Romans 10:5-15 Matthew 14.2233



Let me ask you this question.  What in your imagination would you like to see happen in this Church?  Do you have a vision or a dream of how you would like to see things here?

Now can you imagine what God’s vison is for St Anne’s, Brown Edge?

Bearing in mind that the Church of God does not have a mission, but rather that the God of mission has a Church – that includes here at Brown Edge.

This is why the prayer, praise and listening to God gathering Alan has invited everyone to in September is so very important. 

I hope you agree that God has a plan and a purpose to see the Church grow here and the Kingdom of God extended and expanded.

That people will come to a living faith in Jesus and find life and life in abundance. John 10.10



Archbishop Justin Welby said in his 2015 Lambeth Lecture on Evangelism…

‘The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being.’

At the end of my Quiet Day just over a week ago, I decided I would check on the readings for today.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the Gospel reading was the story of Peter’s walk on the wet side.

The last time I was with you in July, I opened the Service by reading this very same story, about Peter being invited to step out of the boat. I then invited you to move from your pews and to come and join us in the choir stalls.   Sitting together would offer a greater sense of being together, of creating community, especially given our reducing numbers.    

I offer the same invitation when we sing our next hymn.

Now you might say that it is mere coincidence that we should have the same passage today.

Alternatively, it might be a Godincidence? Maybe God is saying something more than simply move out of your pews.

Could it possibly be that in making this move from your pews, you are signifying your willingness to embrace change and to seek for God’s plans and purposes for St Anne’s, Brown Edge.

I have recently written an article for Country Way magazine on rural evangelism. In the piece, I was recalling the story of Polzeath Methodist Chapel in Cornwall.

I got to know the people of the Chapel during the Scripture Union Family Fortnight.  For over 100 years the SU had been running this event, working with local churches and engaging with the community, both local and tourist alike.

My son was part of the Team in 2003 and as we were living in Cornwall, I helped on a few of the days.  The Team lived in a Primary School and I was deeply impressed that one of the rooms was set apart as the Prayer Room with prayer 24/7 with everyone on the Team taking part at some time.

The Chapel’s numbers had dwindled down to only a handful, mostly elderly ladies.  They were sitting on a prime retail site that would attract a considerable amount of money if sold off.

However, several things came together to create a very different kind of future.

I mentioned the Scripture Union – and they were keen to see something established that would take their work on beyond just the fortnight by way of ongoing engagement.

There was a dynamic Methodist Youth Pioneer Minister around at this time.

Then in 2004 the Church of England produced the report ‘Mission Shaped Church’ that gave rise to Fresh Expressions of Church’ – like 'Connect 2' - your own Fresh Expression of Church that meets at St Anne's School on Sunday afternoons. 

Undergirded by prayer, they sought God’s plans and purposes and in 2006 Tubestation began a new way of being God’s people in that area.

The Chapel was turned into a state of the art Surfer Café along with an indoor skateboard park.

Now they continue an amazing ministry among the surfing community as well as the local community.

Under God, Polzeath Methodist Chapel discovered a new plan and purpose and a way of serving the community in a culturally relevant way.

www.tubestation.org/

Like Peter, the Methodist at Polzeath stepped out of the boat – but they did not sink because they kept their eyes firmly fixed on the Saviour and not the situation.

‘But when he (Peter) noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, Save me!’

Now salvation is the focus of the passage we heard from Romans.

Romans 10.13 – ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

In the Country Way article mentioned earlier, I was also reflecting on Christendom as being the default mode for the Church of England since its establishment in the 16th century.

However, the reality is that in 2017, despite the vibrant and lively faith of the Queen, nearly 95% of her subjects do not ascribe to that Faith.


In Christendom, the Faith is more taught than caught - taught mostly through faithful attendance at Religious Acts of Worship.

People come to faith by a kind of osmosis, imbibing the faith over the years.

 I imagine that has been the experience for most of you here today.

 However, those days are now over and that rarely happens anymore - people are not calling on the Lord even when they are in deep water, except perhaps to say ‘O My God’ but meaning nothing by it.

 ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 As the People of God in Brown Edge, how are your feet?

 How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them?  And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news. 

 Twice recently, I have heard or read people use a phrase that some have wrongly ascribed to St Francis – ‘preach the Gospel and use words if you have to.’

It is a common enough phrase among Christians and at one level, it is absolutely right. Our lives and our actions should be a powerful witness to our being People of Faith, guided by God, seeking to live out His way and according to God’s plans and purposes.

 However, verbal proclamation is the other side of the same coin.

 How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them?  

 What part of that quote is about non-verbal communication?

 We share faith through both words and actions.

 Two sides of the same coin.

 Here is how it works summarised perfectly in 1 Peter 3.15

 ‘…but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,…’

 Mother Julian of Norwich, a 14th century English mystic declared her hope in these familiar words, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

How would you express your hope if you were asked? 

 It is time to step out of the boat - and do remember that I am inviting you to indicate your willingness to get out of the boat by coming to sit in the choir stalls when we sing our next hymn.

 I appreciate that might not be easy – but we can, as family, help one another take that step.

 Then I would love to hear some of your dreams and visions for St Anne’s, Brown Edge, what is it you believe God is asking of you both as individuals and as a Faith Community.

People are drowning out there in any number of different situations and the only hope of salvation is that they turn their focus on the Saviour and cry out, Lord save me!


In the 2015, Lambeth Lecture I mentioned earlier, Justin Welby in his opening remarks said this,

’I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.  Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.’

If you truly believe that, then you will be driven first to prayer, then into action, and then to embrace whatever changes are necessary.

Becoming a ‘new’ disciple is only the start of a lifelong journey of Faith. One definition of being a disciple is to be a ‘follower’ and there are at least twelve times in the Gospels where Jesus says, ‘come follow me.’

So, what is your answer going to be this morning?

Are you willing to step out of the boat and follow Jesus?

May I invite you to echo this prayer in your heart.

Dear Father, today I choose to believe your Word. I believe you are faithful to complete the good work you have started in my life. I choose to hear your voice and step out of the boat. Help me to realize my dreams and for my dreams to be realized under your gracious love. Always, forever and only for your praise and glory. 



Further reflection a  Mediation from His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1

 And only where God is seen does life truly begin.

Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.

 We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.

Each of us is the result of a thought of God.

Each of us is willed,

Each of us is loved,

Each of us is necessary.

 There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel,

By the encounter with Christ.

There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.








Saturday, 5 August 2017

Captain's Blog August 2017


HMP Stafford has been a ‘feature’ this month with a preachment in the prison. I am also engaging with the Stafford Group of the Prison Fellowship that meets every month for prayer and update. This Group is currently very small and so I am doing what I can to broaden out the support base for the work of the Chaplain at HMP Stafford, Jo Honour.  I was very nervous and concerned about the ‘sermon’ and was delighted that it was so well received, thanks be to God.  I played around with HMP and asked them to consider not so much Her Majesties Prison but His Majesties Presence, His Majesties Present (gift of the Holy Spirit) and His Majesties Purpose for their lives.  (Sermon transcript is on my blog spot)  Gordon's Blog Spot

St Bertelin's Teddy Bear's Picnic. Not quite the same numbers as last year, however some good conversations and an opportunity for Church and Community to meet and mingle in an open context. A little strange that as we had folk turning up towards the end the Church folk kept on packing up and clearing away rather than engaging with them and offering a cup of tea.  I appreciate things have to end, but if the weather is kind and folk are turning up then surely you would allow things to run on a tad.


Apart from preaching at the prison, I had one other preachment this month, my usual visit to St Anne’s, Brown Edge. On this occasion, I invited the four adults and two children in the ‘congregation’ to join me and the choir (of two) in the choir stalls. Only one came forward.  This place is such a huge challenge. Please pray for their Vicar, Alan Betts.



Remember sunny days - well we did have some, and on one of them, we had a fabulous Messy Church Picnic in the grounds of the Orangery, Ingestre. I took a number of my Games and they always go down well at events like this.

The month ended with Soul Survivor at Stafford Showground. Last year 500+ came off site into Stafford to engage with Churches and Agencies in blessing Stafford under the banner of ‘Love Stafford.’  It went so well we decided to do it all again, this year. Although this year we had the challenge of Soul Survivor being held on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  500 young people, working with 27 Churches/Agencies covering 42 projects, Tea Parties in a Care Home, Gardening, Litter Picking and Prayer Walking among a whole host of other projects.  For my home Church of St John’s, Littleworth it was also the time to bid farewell to our Rector who is moving on after 11 years in post. 
On the Saturday with 15 S.S. young people we Prayer Walked the parish and distributed leaflets inviting people to a Community Fun Day and a Farewell to Adrian, Esther and the family On Sunday. The Farewell Service was simple, awesome, moving, and emotional and many other things as well.  It spilled out into the Community Fun Day with live entertainment, BBQ and an array of Games plus a Bouncy Castle. 
On the Monday, I loaded up my car once again with ‘wet’ Games and Gazebo plus the badge making kit to join Doxey Parish Church for another Family Fun Day.  I was kept busy making badges and key rings for two solid hours. , To say I was exhausted on Monday night would be a massive understatement! But the people reached made it so worth while.


FCN has also featured this month with a group meeting and ‘Chewing the Cud.’ Lower numbers this time, but that is the nature of this gathering and one of its ‘charms’ – you never know who is going to turn up and so how the conversations will develop. www.fcn.org.uk

Our Growth Group had a meal out at a local Indian Restaurant and surprised Anne by producing a birthday cake in advance of her birthday a few days later.  This Group is so important for us (Jane and myself) - they have taken us to the hearts and we have taken them into ours. 



Some appointments in August

Wednesday 2nd
Personal Quiet Day

Thursday 3rd
JC meeting as Spiritual Companion
On Call for Hospital Chaplaincy 4.30pm – 8.30am

Saturday 5th
 RMS Webinar on Autumn Mission Ideas  www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk
Webinar – 5th August 2017 09.00 to 09.45 am.
Registration is essential.  
Attending the Induction of new Vicar to the Benefice of Berkswich. (My home parish)
Pray for Graham as he begins his ministry here.

Sunday 6th
Cannock Chase 10K – not raising fund this time. Doing it just to keep the pressure up on my running

Monday 7th – Wednesday 9th are clear at the moment and I will try to keep them that way. I am currently reviewing the Journey to Faith Rural Evangelism Course available on the Germinate ARC website.  I also have other work to complete on as well. Please pray that I can keep this space and use it wisely.

Thursday 10th
Helping to set up the Church Tent at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Friday 11th & Saturday 12th
Shrewsbury Flower Show and assisting at the Shrewsbury Churches Together Tent. 

Sunday 13th
Preaching at St Anne’s, Brown Edge.

Monday 14th
In the evening, leading the ‘Vacancy Prayer Gathering’ for Littleworth, Tixall and Ingestre. 
(That includes my home church of St John’s) 

Tuesday 15th
Meeting with my own Spiritual Companion
On Call for Hospital Chaplaincy 4.30pm – 8.30am

Wednesday 16th
Ministry Review with Line Manager, George Fisher. 
On Call for Hospital Chaplaincy 4.30pm – 8.30am

From the 21st – 27th we are going to Cornwall mainly to try to sort out our house. This has not sold and so we are planning to tidy it up and rent it out for six month before considering putting it up for sale again. It will of course give us an opportunity to meet up with Daniel, Tracey and the girls. We also plan a weekend stop over on the way back in Bristol so that we can catch up with Joe.

Wednesday 30th
Prison Fellowship Prayer Gathering
On Call for Hospital Chaplaincy 4.30pm – 8.30am

Thursday 31st
Diocesan Rural Strategy Group Meeting


Thursday, 3 August 2017

In the Old Testament why did God instruct people to be killed?

This question was put to me recently as an e-responder for  www.peacewithgod.org.uk

The answer has to be reasonably concise and hopefully coherent! 

At one level it is great you ask such a question, because it indicates a morality that says people should not be killed, certainly not killed randomly and most definitely not in their thousands.

However, we have to place God’s love, kindness and forgiveness alongside his holiness and his justice and righteousness.   We might like Jesus meek and mild but not as a judge.

We also need to recognize that Israel was a theocracy – in effect, God was their king.  The Israelite's were a gathered people in a specific geographical area and God was moulding them and shaping them into becoming His people.  The overarching sin of the world is idolatry and idolatry ‘rubs off’ onto others – this was a constant threat to God’s people.  (Read the Book of the Prophet Hosea)  

Therefore, we can begin to see that the slaughter of Israel’s enemies at the command of God whilst it may seem inconsistent with a loving God was really an act of love for Israel and others due to the moral condition of these nations which included child sacrifice as archaeology has clearly shown. The degradation of these people was horrible. Further, God, who knows the hearts of all and what they will and will not do, was acting based on that knowledge. Thus, God ordered their judgment in order to protect Israel and their development as a nation, for it was through them that God would give the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Also when reading the Old Testament it is important to consider a balanced view – and when we take a balanced view we do see God’s love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness alongside his judgment and punishment of wickedness and vice and abominable practices.

Consider these quotes from the Old Testament

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Psalms 36:5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 89:8  O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD,  with your faithfulness all around you?

Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

As I said, this is a big question, what I have offered is just a few starting point.

However, I do hope these may be enough to help you in your thinking and possibly begins to answer your question.

Comments and feedback welcomed...


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

‘Evangelism is back on the Menu’

‘Evangelism is back on the Menu’

As Henry V111 began to distance himself from Rome because of ‘The Kings Great Matter’ and then with the 1559 Act of Settlement of Elizabeth 1 the emerging Church of England became the Established Church with Christendom as its modus operandi.

Christendom as a default position has little need or requirement for evangelism and the idea of conversion becomes largely defunct.  People imbibe the Faith through an osmosis type process, the Faith is more taught than caught, particularly through faithful attendance at Religious Services. 

There were of course always those who acted contrariwise – the Wesley’s, William Booth, Wilson Carlile and the Billy Graham Crusades in the 50’s, 60’s and 80’s.

The post Second World War Church of England drew up a report ‘Towards the Conversion of England,’ that was posthumously published under the name of Archbishop William Temple in 1945 – and for the most part was quietly ignored.

However, another stirring occurred when the Anglicans accepted Resolution 43 of the 1988 Lambeth Conference that called on ‘each province and diocese of the Anglican Communion, in co-operation with other Christians, to make the closing years of this millennium a “Decade of Evangelism” with a renewed and united emphasis on making Christ known to the people of his world.’

The Decade of Evangelism was a strong theme in some parts of the Church of England throughout the 1990s, but the cause was also taken up by other denominations in the UK.

Partly emerging out of this the Church Planting Movement became established. 

This was followed by the publication of ‘Mission Shaped Church’ in 2004 and the birth of Fresh Expressions of Church. 

Hard evidence now demonstrates how clearly these initiatives - ‘added to their number daily those who were being saved.’  Acts 2.47

Then in 2013, the newly appointed Archbishop Justin Welby declared Evangelism to be one of his three priorities and set up a Task Group to nurture and foster Evangelism.

In his 2015 Lambeth Lecture on Evangelism Archbishop Justin Welby said…

’I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.  Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.’

EVANGELISM is back on the menu and not just for Anglicans.

In his inaugural address as President at the Methodist Conference in Southport in 2015, the Revd Steve Wild challenged each Methodist church in Britain to aim to bring just one person to faith in the coming year, saying: 

"Let's take God seriously. I want to help us in the task of evangelism, to put mission on the agenda and give our churches an aim to win a person for Christ."

A challenge for the rural church, especially those still operating in Christendom mode, is what to make of all of this talk of evangelism and conversion and people coming to Christ.  In many ways, it is unfamiliar language.  

Furthermore if evangelism is back on the menu are we treating it as an starter, a snack, supper, maybe a packed lunch – when does it became the main meal that guides and sustains us?

D.T. Niles said that ‘evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.’   

However, do we believe that the Bread of Life is the very best thing we can offer people? How are we being sustained by it ourselves on a daily basis so that we can speak from our own personal experience and tell other beggars about this Bread?  

Because evangelism is back on the menu, there has been an increase in various kinds of resources suitable for all kinds of Churches and situations. For example on rural specific see www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk  http://germinate.net/
www.ruralministries.org.uk

There has also been a fresh appraisal of what is the core message of Christianity.  Some have found the idea of being ‘saved so that we can go to heaven’ a tad vacuous. (On this, see Tom Wright’s many books and publications) 

More suited to the naturally incarnational nature of the rural Church is a change of emphasis that moves towards a greater understanding that the core message is not that Christians go to heaven when they die, but bring heaven to earth while they live.

Therefore, one aspect of evangelism is that we are inviting people to become co-partners with God in the redemption of the cosmos, thereby embracing and fulfilling their human vocation.

This is why the ‘WHY’ question is the very first and most important aspect when considering evangelism.

Why would I want someone to become a Christian?

Why would we as a Faith Community want someone to become a Christian?

Justin Welby in the Lambeth Lecture (as above) said this, ‘The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being.’

What is obvious is that people are no longer finding Faith through the osmosis process. As Christendom continues to wane, we will have to gain an understanding of coming to Faith and conversion. Of how we can, as a Faith Community, be evangelized ourselves and be regularly re-evangelized as we face fresh issues in the world around us. Thus being an evangelized Faith Community, we are in a good position to seek to evangelize others, drawing them along on a journey to Faith, to the heart of Jesus, and then on into a life of ongoing development and discipleship.  

I am convinced that in a rural context a Faith Community that is committed at the core, open at the edges, and is evangelised and naturally evangelising is the best and most culturally relevant form of evangelism.  Especially if the Faith Community works with the grain of season and cycles and the rhythms and patterns which form the backdrop of rural life.   


Captain Gordon Banks CA
Mission & Growth Partner Stafford Episcopal Area Diocese of Lichfield
Committee Member of Rural Evangelism Network