Tuesday 13 March 2007

Evangelism. Proclaiming the Gospel

(From Towards the Conversion of England: The Report of a Commission on Evangelism appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, pursuant to a Resolution of the Church Assembly passed at the Summer session, 1943, London: Press and Publications Board of the Church Assembly, 1945)

Evangelism in Towns

147. [...] there are two movements of evangelism, clearly discernible and easily distinguishable.

The one is the expansion of the Church and its gospel within society, of which the classic simile is "the leaven in the lump." The other is the impact of the Church and its Gospel upon society from without, such as the parable of the Great Supper illustrates, with the servants bidden to "go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in."

Both evangelistic methods are demanded for the presentation of Christ as Saviour and King is great centres of population.


148. Even in town and cities the parish is still, and will largely remain, the organic unit of the Church. The conversion of England cannot be attempted apart from the parochial system. Not only would an evangelistic campaign be abortive which did not work through the parish churches, but without them there could exist no fellowship to welcome and build up those who were gathered in.

When, therefore, we speak of evangelising English society by expansion from within, we mean lively parish church fellowships which exert an evangelistic influence upon their neighbourhood, and upon every kind of community within it.

149. If a congregation is to become such a purposeful fellowship, not only is the full co-operation of lay people essential, but they must be mobilised and trained. There thus arises the need of inner groups within the wider fellowship of the Church.

[Problems presented by such groups.]

But whatever the difficulty or danger, these must be faced and risked, for we believe that without such inner groups the work of present day evangelism cannot go forward.

150. Based on the principle of small groups, which become more groups and maintain close touch with each other, there are several types of evangelistic groups that can operate in a parish. [...]

In them all, prayer and waiting upon the Holy Spirit form the fount of their every activity.

151. Inner Groups have been formed with effect within each parochial organization, to evangelise it and to hold it to its spiritual purpose. [...]

152. Cells for Witness [...]. They help each other to talk quite naturally about Christ to those among whom they live and move. [...]

153. Teams of Witness ... are groups which meet specifically to prepare nd train for public witness and organised evangelistic enterprise. [...]

154. Prayer Groups .... it is sometimes profitable to call into being (it may be for a period) a band of special "remembrancers" who have a more particular vocation for the ministry of intercession. In this way, too, older and more infirm members of the Church can play a definite part in personal evangelism, by being recruited for this purpose.

155. Vocational Cells are groups of Christians banded together in a factory or business house to present Christ Jesus to their fellows, and to introduce, or maintain, Christian standards in the conduct of the industry or business in which they are engaged. [...]


156. [...] All and every means of evangelism should be employed. [...]

Owing to the complexity of the times, it is impossible to lay down hard and fast rules of evangelistic strategy. [...] We would also encourage adventurous enterprise and experiment by pointing to three guiding principles that emerge from our definition of evangelism-the presentation of Christ Jesus to men in the power of the Holy Spirit.

157. If it is Christ Jesus we are to present to men, then the whole Christ must be lifted up if He is to draw all man to Himself. Failure in evangelism in the past has been partly due to a tendency, in preachers of the Gospel, to present an imperfect picture of our Lord. They have been apt to concentrate on that particular aspect of His Person and Work which made the most appeal to them personally. Every mission or campaign, and every series of addresses, should present Christ in all His fullness. Very shortly, this involves a threefold presentation.

There is the Christ of the Bible to be preached, as set forth in the Creeds. this involves driving home the events of the gospel story (together with their meaning) as historical realities.

There is the Christ of history to be proclaimed, His victories down the centuries to be made known, and how His Body, the Church, has moulded civilization, spread throughout the world and initiated all movements of social betterment and reform.

There is the Christ of personal experience to be declared, and the fact of his ever-abiding Presence, bestowing the peace of forgiveness, giving power to live victoriously and assuring of eternal life.

158. If it is to men that Christ Jesus is to be presented, then we must go to the people, and not expect them to come to us. Christ must be lifted up in the factory and at the street corner, not only in churches where non-worshippers are unlikely to be found. [...]

159. If it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ Jesus is to be presented, then we must demonstrate to the world the reality of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. [...]

[Ecumenism in parallel missions.]

Parochial Missions

160. It is disastrous, and worse than useless, to attempt a Parochial Mission of any kind unless, not only has the preparation been ample, but the "follow up" has been carefully planned and the promoters have satisfactorily answered the question, "What do you propose to do with those whose hearts are touched?"

The Teaching Convention

161. [...] Systematic teaching should be the normal function of every parochial ministry. It is, however, unfortunately true that many church people are lamentably ignorant of the Christian Faith, either because systematic teaching is not given, or because they themselves attend church so irregularly that they never learn to see the principles and practices of their religion as a whole. The Church to-day lacks converting power because the majority of its members are not convinced Christians. The widespread ignorance of the most elementary truths of the Christian religion makes it imperative that the laity should understand their faith and commend it in word and deed. [...]

The Evangelistic Mission

164. A Parochial Mission is an evangelistic effort on a grand scale that arouses attention. It is an attempt to preach the Gospel to everyone who can be reached in a particular parish or area. Its primary aim is conversion. [...]

[Preparation for and running Parish Missions]

[General Campaigns]

Village Evangelism

178. Very much that we have suggested regarding evangelism in general is thoroughly pertinent to villages and only requires to be specially applied to meet the circumstances of each particular parish. [...]

Also , all that has been said about the parish priest being the key to the evangelistic situation has even greater force when applied to the country clergy. [...]

The stability of the country-side, coupled with the awakening processes now entering into it, give promise of a good response to experiment and leadership; if only the village is regarded as an active and adventurous sphere for a pioneer, and not as a suitable place of retirement for a tired man.

Obstacles to Village Evangelism

180. Lack of Unity [...]. Modern village life often seems to combine the less satisfactory features of town and country, and has not yet found itself. The traditional virtues of the old order are fast disappearing, but await replacement by the benefits of the new. [...]

181. [...] Thus country folk still retain their innate conservatism and are generally resentful of change. Many a village church has been emptied by innovations introduced by a new incumbent who is not consonant with the slow and stable rhythm of country life. [...]

182. Lack of leadership [...].

Opportunities for Village Evangelism

188. The building up of village community life ... calls for the leadership of the country clergy, and thus affords them scope for evangelism. [...] ... by identifying himself and his work with all the varied activities of village life, instead of confining himself to fostering fellowship among his congregation alone, the country parson can bring the power of religion to bear on the whole community. [...]

189. Personal Relationships particularly characterise a village ministry. The individual approach will thus often afford the best opportunity for pr0esenting Christ Jesus as Saviour and King to those into whose common calling and life God has already entered through the ministry of the church and the leadership of its minister. [...]

Evangelism among Children

193. The aim of evangelism among children must be that they shall become alive to Christ. [...] In general they have to be told that they must ait and prepare themselves before they can fulfil life’s big responsibilities. But Jesus needs them now, and they need Him; and they can be as real and true Christians as grown-up people. [...]

The one approach is to make, periodically, an appeal to decide for Christ. It is a call, repeated from time to time, to open the door to the knocking of Someone without.

The other approach is the constant appeal to make decisions for Christ. It is a continual call too act in obedience to Someone already within.

The two approaches correspond to "sudden" and "gradual" conversion and, whether employed separately or together, both fo them have been manifestly owned of God. [...].

Evangelising Agencies

195. Christian Home Life is the natural and normal introduction of the child to th family of God; and Christianity derives its chief symbolism and its chief virtues from the life of the family. A child’s earliest experience of family affection, and of the laws of family unity, is the purposed and ordained “sacrament” both of the love of God and also of the fellowship of the Church. [...]

For this reason, in evangelism among children, every effort must be made to convert the home as well as the child.[...]

196. Christian Teaching centres on the Person and work of the Son of God - at once the Jesus of the Gospel story, the Christ of the Church all down the ages and throughout the world, and the Saviour of personal experience. [...] Christ thus becomes the “Friend for little children”; a truth not to be conveyed with sentimentality or softness, but with the bracing suggestion that He is a Leader to follow and a Master to obey.

197. ... in these days there is particular reason that teaching on the love of God should include insistence upon the holiness of God and upon His justice, and instruction on the working of His moral laws. Christian teaching, even to children, is incomplete which leaves out altogether the fact of judgement, but gives the idea that “everyone goes to heaven when he dies.” [...]

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