THE General Synod debated the report Challenges for the
Quinquennium: Intentional evangelism on Monday afternoon, and
supported the formation of an Archbishops' Task Group on
Introducing a debate that was "nearer to [his] heart than any
other theme", the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu,
said: "Worship and witness, in the power of the Holy Spirit, are
the Church's reason for being. . . All people in Britain experience
weather, and they talk about it readily and repeatedly. If only
disciples of Jesus Christ in England did the same about him; and he
is infinitely greater than British weather."
The Revd Dr Tudor Griffiths (Gloucester) spoke
of the global context as an inspiration. The Church had "much to
learn from the Churches of the Anglican Communion".
Susan Cooper (London) made a plea "for those
parishes that do not carry the word 'Evangelical' in their title
and way of looking at things", but did evangelism "in a more
oblique way". Her church's best evangelist was the director of
music, who went into schools to recruit children to join the choir.
The area was one with many "dual-faith families", and she asked for
help in communicating with these parents, to explain the
implications of their children's getting confirmed.
Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) suggested that
the Church should be asking "why people do not identify an affinity
with the Church of England in the way they used to before". This
could be "to do with the brand, with the way we present ourselves".
People under 50 who were asked about the C of E "will either shrug,
or say it is homophobic or misogynistic". They might also wonder
"what we are doing that is useful".
He pointed to the questionnaire sent out by the Pope to Roman
Catholics, and suggested a similar exercise. He also argued that
the Church must not "focus entirely on Fresh Expressions at the
cost of Sunday-morning worship".
The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the
Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke of how it was planned that the Bishop of
Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter, would have "seed-scattering
weekends", where he would "encourage ordinary members of parishes
to be witness of the Good News of Jesus Christ in their
Alongside this, a five-week series, The Gap, had recently
concluded in Nottingham city centre. "We have sought to do
apologetics in a different way," he said, with "chat shows, comedy,
and music." This had attracted people who had nothing to do with
the Church, and had led church members to comment that it had
"helped us to be firmer and clearer in how we will witness for
Jesus Christ in our place of work".
The Revd Ruth Hind (Ripon & Leeds) had been
part of a diocesan group "to find ways of deploying clergy in ways
that would maximise mission and growth. . . Were some ways were
more conducive than others?" The group could not find "answers to
these and difficult questions", and she hoped that the Task Group
envisaged in the motion would do some research in this area.
"Without knowledge of what works or what doesn't, we can't
describe our mission, our ministry, or our evangelism as
The Revd Angus MacLeay (Rochester) proposed an
amendment calling for the task group to include representatives of
the mission agencies, such as CPAS or the Church Army. "We want
people . . . not driven by pragmatics, numbers, or anything like
that." "There is great expertise there: let's draw upon it."
Shayne Ardron (Leicester) said that her parish
had had a mission statement for years, but had only recently
"developed mission values".They regularly heard comments that
newcomers were made to feel welcome: "It's not what we do: it's the
way that we do it." There was "no point doing mission if we're not
going to welcome those who will come through the door", she
The Revd Philip North (London) spoke of the
vast white-majority estates in Sunderland and the Midlands, where
the Christian presence had been "vanquished". The "absolutely
vital" question was "Why is evangelism failing the poor?" Materials
produced by the Church assumed a high level of literacy. The Church
also assumed stable families.
Church-plants were often set up in areas of "low-hanging fruit".
Also, the parish that he had left on an estate in the north of
England had been vacant for two-and-a-half years, while a job near
Paddington, in London, had attracted 123 applicants. The "battle
for the Christian soul of the nation" would not be won in Guildford
or Kensington, but on large urban estates.
It was important to develop "context-appropriate techniques",
and to focus on transforming not just individuals, but communities.
The emphasis on social justice must be more prominent in the paper.
The Revd Stephen Pratt (Lichfield) brought a
"friendly amendment". There was a danger that the PCC could "spend
the bulk of their time discussing evangelism, but not getting out
and doing any".There was a need for a "national strategy to change
the culture of the Church of England". The amendment would
encourage people "not just to talk, but to try".
Dr Richard Goudie (Durham) was encouraged by
the ways in which evangelism had been strengthened by ecumenical
partnership. "Where we work together, that is something which can
be very powerful to change perception." He wanted to make a "plea
to look for opportunities to cross barriers of churchmanship at a
Zahida Mallard (Bradford) spoke as "a
first-generation convert and disciple of Christ". She was therefore
"somehow perturbed" to see that in the report there was a reference
to "disciples (rather than converts)". She said: "We are part of
the community that makes up the Church of England. . . If culture
is to change and evolve, it needs to include those voices of
Dr Gavin Oldham (Oxford) spoke of the Church as
the vehicle that "passes the baton of faith on to the next
generation". The chart produced by Professor David Voas, of the
University of Essex, showing religious affiliation by year of
birth, showed that this work had been done "spectacularly badly":
fewer than five per cent of the under-30s recognised the Church of
England as their affiliation.
It was "not good enough" to blame growing wariness and antipathy
towards faith. He argued: "If the vehicle is running on wonky
wheels, God will act directly. . . Surely we can help God better."
Priority needed to be given to engaging with young people - not
just children, but 20- and 30-year-olds.
The Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd
Robert Paterson, said that the key today was discipleship, because
"there is a great deal of residual faith around." There was a
noticeable decline in the "self-preserving part of the Church", he
said, compared with the "growth amongst visionary and less
The Synod then worked through the amendments. Supporting Mr
MacLeay's amendment calling for the inclusion of staff from mission
agencies and people with a "proven record" in evangelism "at local
level" on the Task Group, the Bishop of Willesden,
the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent (Southern Suffragans), pointed out that
a task group was different from a committee, and did not need a
The Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Mark Bryant
(who was attending Synod in place of the Bishop of Durham during
the vacancy-in-see), said that a "problem for a number of our
communities" was that they had a "real desire for evangelism, but
very little resources". He said that it was "important that the
Task Group hears from people with experience of where resources are
The amendment was carried.
Mr Pratt's amendment called for "every local church" to try at
least one new way of making disciples in 2014. Supporting it,
Christine Corteen (Salisbury) spoke of the Hope
2014 initiative encouraging churches to "get into communities and
join with what God is doing".
The Archdeacon of Tonbridge, the Ven. Clive
Mansell (Rochester), also supported the amendment, because it "adds
something that is graspable at the local level". When he had been a
parish priest, he had introduced a standing item on each PCC
agenda, "Mission Matters".
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick
Baines, supported the amendment, because it included the phrase
"appropriate to their local context". He said that "the resources
that we have are the people who have a story to tell, but what
language do we ask them to tell that story in?" The north was a
"different country", and "some of the stories that come from the
south are not appropriate."
The amendment was carried.
Debate resumed on the main motion as amended. Canon
Dagmar Winter (Newcastle) welcomed the report and its
appreciation of the part played by academic theology. But she
expressed concern about "getting into the Golden Age narrative",
which implied that there was a time when the Church was "full of
committed disciples who could not wait to discuss the gospel".
This "middle-class manifesto of the Christian life" was not
"necessarily what we should be aiming for, anyway". From the
earliest days of the Church, there had been a "core of people who
were fragile vessels or cracked pots, who spread the gospel", and
others who were "encouraged by the message and involved in all
sorts of good stuff - personal neighbourliness, community activism,
leading good lives, and raising families". This latter group were
"sometimes seen by the core as not quite properly committed
She said: "I share the concern about not reaching people, but my
anxiety is that, in our zeal, we do not let go of a spirit of
generosity, and alienate those who appear on the periphery, [and
say] that if they are not quite in, they are out."
The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) supported the
motion, but warned that the Synod was being asked to "will the end,
without agreeing the means", because the "Synod is not being asked
to approve a budget for the task group.
"The danger is that we end up with a high-power church committee
without anybody with the ability to lead on this important issue
between meetings," he said. "If we are going to see lasting change,
there will be a real cost."
The Revd Catherine Nightingale (Deaf Church
Conference) supported the motion, but said that it could have been
broadened out to include groups such as Deaf Anglicans and Fresh
Expressions, in addition to PCCs and deaneries.
The motion, as amended, was overwhelmingly carried:
That this Synod, in the light of the priority of evangelism
and making new disciples:
(a) support the formation of an Archbishops' Task Group on
Evangelism with the terms of reference and timetable as set out in
GS1917 and urge that its membership include:
(i) staff of Anglican home mission agencies with expertise
in helping local churches engage in effective evangelism and
(ii) those with a proven record in those disciplines at
(b) call upon the Task Group to make its first priority a
new call to prayer;
(c) commend to the Task Group an initial programme for its
work around the seven disciplines of evangelisation as set out in
the same paper;
(d) call upon every diocesan and deanery synod and every PCC
to spend the bulk of one meeting annually and some part of every
meeting focusing on sharing experiences and initiatives for making
new disciples; and
(e) urge every local church in 2014 prayerfully to try at
least one new way, appropriate to their local context, of seeking
to make new disciples of Jesus Christ.