Every church needs to put evangelism at the heart of ministry, says the Senior Bishop of the Church in Wales.
In his Presidential Address to members of the Church’s Governing Body, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, called on churches to reach out to people in creative and engaging ways.
Bishop John was speaking on behalf of all the Church’s bishops at the start of the Governing Body meeting which is taking place at Cardiff City Hall today and tomorrow (April 22-23).
Referring to concern expressed about falling church attendance figures, he urged members to stand up to the challenges and seize the opportunities they presented.
Bishop John said, “We must want and prepare our church to reach our centenary having really got to grips with re-imagining and refreshing our faith, our own knowledge of scripture, our understanding of our own discipleship and our potential to evangelise others. We need to become, afresh, a Jesus movement. But – and this is a big ‘but’ – we have to begin with ourselves, we have to re-evangelise our life – because unless we really know what we are about, unless we really are fit for purpose, there is little point in trying to reach out to others and to invite them in.”
One very important part of evangelism was engaging young people in church life, said Bishop John, noting that the agenda included a presentation from 18 young people from churches across Wales.
He said, “We have to recognise that, while many young people apparently find both Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospel message of love, justice and inclusivity immensely attractive and inspirational, they often don’t find the church to be a place where these are readily and engagingly encountered. So, we are challenged to listen to what the members of the Youth Forum have to say to us, and then not just to nod affably to it, but to ask how to take seriously our evangelism of the young.”
Bishop John reminded members that despite the challenges facing the Church it was still very strong. It was one of the largest voluntary organisations in Wales and, though its church schools was in contact with more than 25,000 young people every day. It was also financially secure enough to support new ministries. He highlighted, too, the Church’s 2020 Vision strategy for growth ahead of its centenary year (2020) which had already resulted in significant changes.
He said, “We are a Church charged by Jesus himself, with delivering his Gospel of life, hope and flourishing. At the start of this meeting, the Bishops ask you to commit to being positive in thinking and deliberately concentrated in facing up to the challenge presented to us last September and, with the resources at our disposal, turning it in to a wonderful evangelistic opportunity.”
Presidential Address – FULL TEXT
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