With the Archbishop of Canterbury due to visit the Diocese of Bristol, Bishop Lee reminds us of Justin Welby’s priorities and the opportunities his visit creates.
I hope by now the news will have spread to the various corners of the Diocese that in early September Archbishop Justin is spending the weekend among us. When he took office 14 months ago the new Archbishop of Canterbury told us that he had three personal priorities in the ministry entrusted to him: the renewal of prayer and the religious life, reconciliation, and mission and evangelism.
Those familiar with the Five Marks of Mission might wonder why the Archbishop spoke of mission and evangelism since the latter is already a key strand of mission. Was this not naming it twice? The problem, as Archbishop Justin pointed out, is that despite the Church of England's welcome focus on mission in recent years, evangelism has continued to be neglected. To support him personally in this priority the Archbishop appointed the Revd Canon Chris Russell as his Adviser in Evangelism. Chris is the vicar of St Laurence, Reading, and continues in that role; Justin wanted someone who is rooted in the daily practice of evangelism to be able to reflect with him and for the wider Church of England.
Listening to Chris at the recent Service of Admission of the College of Evangelists, he drew attention to the difficulty church members have in inviting others along to their church. Of course there are different reasons why people are reluctant to do this but the principal reason, according to Chris's research, is that church members don't want to risk hearing a ‘no’! The vast majority do not invite others to services or evangelistic events because they fear being turned down.