Mission - Resources - Guidelines

Ten Priorities in Evangelism

From 'Anglicans in Mission': A Transforming Journey

Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission (MISSIO) 1999

Introduction

The 'Ten Priorities in Evangelism' (originally known as Ten Points of G-CODE) were drawn from reports from around the world given at the Mid-point Review of the Decade of Evangelism held in Kanuga, USA in September 1995. 120 representatives of the provinces of the Communion reported to each other on the progress of the Decade in their Churches, identifying issues and priorities for the future.

Reports at Kanuga revealed that evangelism in its various forms is moving to a more central place on the agenda of the provinces of the Communion, as a result of the call for a Decade in 1988. They also revealed a diversity of understandings of evangelism and a wide variety of approaches as Anglicans sought to relate the Gospel to their local situations. But there were some underlying common themes.

Mission and evangelism were integrally connected. Whereas evangelism was generally understood to do with the sharing of the Gospel in order to awaken or re-awaken personal faith in Jesus Christ, this could not be done without relating to the personal and social contexts of those concerned. Nevertheless evangelism was central and essential to the life and witness of the Church. It was the cutting edge, the sharpest point, of the broader task of mission. Any Church not seriously engaging in mission was a disobedient Church and stood risk of extinction and of becoming a mission field for other religions.

Evangelism impacts on the wider aspects of mission. For example, it challenges the quality of life and welcome of the Church communities into which new believers come. It raises questions of Christian nurture. It raises issues about the role of Christians in society and their service to the world at large. As was clear from the reports it provides challenges to the economic and social injustices of our world.

Reports from around the world identified the following issues as priorities to be addressed as we enter the third millennium.

Priorities

The reports from around the Communion identified the following issues as priorities to be addressed in the second half of the Decade.

1 Issues of Training and Nurture

The issue identified as top priority was the need to revise the training, nurture and formation of clergy, so as to prepare them to participate and give leadership in evangelism. Equipping and empowering the laity was also emphasised. Both clergy and laity need opportunities to gain confidence in telling their faith stories. Clergy in particular need encouragement and help to engage in on-going theological formation.

2 Issues of Spirituality and Worship

There was a strong call for freer worship and contextualised liturgy. Our common pattern of Anglican liturgy has helped to bind us together, but needs to be revised to reflect local cultures. Evangelistic endeavours need to be undertaken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and should be strongly supported and surrounded by personal and corporate prayer. Personal devotion and communal worship lie at the heart of renewal in evangelism - which often includes 'spiritual warfare'. Clergy and lay leaders need training in this direction.

3 Repentance and Humility

There was an acknowledgement that humble repentance is a necessary precondition to bold evangelism. In each part of the Communion there is a need for the Church to repent of its past and present sins, and this is an on-going process which may in some cases involve restitution.

4 The Role of Lay People

The central role of the laity in evangelism was strongly affirmed. There is a need not merely to give tasks to lay people, but rather, to empower them by truly delegating authority and encouraging and enabling them to get on with the job in their homes, places of work and daily lives. The important role of women in witness was particularly highlighted. In many parts of Africa, especially West Africa, women lead the Church's mission in its social and spiritual aspects, largely through the work of Mothers' Union.

5 A Church Open To All People

Local congregations/Christian communities need to become more welcoming, nurturing and open to all people. They also need to provide neighbourhood, house-oriented or 'cell' groups which newcomers can join. The hierarchical structures of our Anglican Church need to be modified to allow a more equitable sharing of responsibilities.

6 Leadership and Visioning

Delegates called for strong and prophetic leadership from the bishops of the Communion. There is a need for bishops to demonstrate their commitment to evangelism, and to articulate a clear evangelistic vision.

7 Youth

There was a strong call to explore and harness ways of ministering with the youth, both implementing whatever changes are needed in order to attract youth, as well as the need for affirming and encouraging youth in the work of evangelism and in their spiritual and moral formation.

8 Co-operation with other Christians

Mention was made of evangelism in co-operation with other Churches or individual non-Anglican Christians. In the second half of the Decade, provinces need to reassess their ecumenical co-operation in evangelism.

9 Other Faiths, Ideologies, Unreached People

There was special concern about strengthening our witness among people of other faiths. Mention was also made of the challenge of materialism and secularism. We should support efforts to reach the unreached both in the modern and mega cities of the wealthier parts of the world and in the less developed places.

10 Issues of Social and Environmental Justice

Evangelism is the central task given to the Church, and it was felt that this means a call to live like Christ in concern for the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the Creation, and in working to overcome structures and systems that perpetuate poverty, oppression and environmental degradation. Within the Church it was felt that provinces and dioceses should reflect their commitment to the vision of becoming a movement for mission by giving mission a priority place in their budgeting.

Practical suggestions for mobilising the church

Working groups at the Conference suggested some practical ways to help the Church address the emerging issues and future directions identified above. These suggestions need to be adapted to fit local situations.

1 Seminary Training

There needs to be a Communion-wide review and revision of seminary curricula and staffing to prioritise evangelism. to shift the church from maintenance to mission, we need to put mission at the heart and as the motivating force in ministerial formation.

2 Exchanges of Personnel

These exchanges should increase, and can happen in a variety of ways and in all directions.

3 Team and Group Visits

These are short-term, focused visits, to meet specific requests.

4 Translation and Adaptation of Resources

There is a need for more resources in languages other than English, and in culturally-sensitive adaptations.

5 Sharing Stories

We would be helped by hearing one another's stories, including faith stories and accounts of successful and unsuccessful efforts in evangelism.

6 Regional Gatherings

Gatherings are one of the important ways we meet each other, encourage and support each other, exchange our stories, and celebrate our oneness and rich diversity.

7 Electronic Networking

We need to make the best possible use of the technology that is available.

8 Evangelism Assessment/Evaluation

This process involves setting measurable goals and then assessing how well we are doing in fulfilling these.

9 Budgets

The Church at all levels should budget sufficient funds to enable the work of evangelism. Examining our budgets is one way of measuring our commitment to evangelism.

10 Mission Structures and Programs

The programs and structures, which have been established to assist the Church throughout the Communion to fulfil its broad mission goals, should be modified as necessary to assist with current evangelism needs.

11 Ecumenical Endeavours

Local parishes and dioceses need to be encouraged to approach the evangelistic task ecumenically, in co-operation with other Christians in their own communities.

Questions to help us move forward

These questions are intended to stimulate thought, leading to positive action. They should be adapted as necessary for local situations.

For the Anglican Consultative Council

1 Sharing of Resources:

What and where are the identifiable resources, human and material, that can be used for evangelism, and how can these be effectively shared around the Communion?

2 Language and Translation:

Are some language groups in the Communion being marginalised in the study of theology and at conferences, and what can be done to correct this anomaly?

3 Funding:

Does the evangelism budget adequately reflect the priority of this Decade of Evangelism?

For Bishops and Dioceses

1 Vision and Encouragement:

Evangelism is the cutting edge of mission. What is your vision for the spread of the gospel, recruitment, training and sending of labourers for the on-going task of mission? (See MISSIO's letter to the Bishops of the Commission)

2 Training:

How central is the practical training in evangelism in the curriculum of your institutions of lay and clergy training?

3 Relevant Liturgy:

How do you encourage your people to adapt liturgy to better reflect your culture and the local situation and to make worship a more lively and creative encounter with God?

For Parishes

1 Sensitivity to Local Needs:

What do people find attractive in your congregation?

2 Welcoming Community:

In what ways can you improve your welcome to others?

3 Building Confidence for Evangelism:

How does your parish help members to share their faith at home, at work, with neighbours and in the wider society?

For All

Look at the list of emerging issues and practical suggestions. In each list which are the top three priorities for you in your situation? Do you have any other priorities? What will you do about them?