Christianity Explored

What is Christianity? As Christians we follow Jesus who said “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20.21). We are called to serve God’s mission by living and proclaiming the good news. “It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church”.

For Anglican Christians God’s mission is about transformation – transforming individual lives, transforming communities and transforming the world. As we follow Jesus Christ, we believe that God’s mission is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in three ways: through the Bible, through the tradition and life of the Church, and through our own listening, praying, thinking and sharing as we respond to our own context.

What it means to be a Christian…

Christian life is lived in relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and in common with other Christians in the church seeking to deepen that relationship and to follow the way that Jesus taught.

For Christians God is understood and known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Father… God is love, caring for creation and for every human being as God’s beloved child.

Son… God is as he has revealed himself to be in the historical person of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection holds the key to knowing and loving God, and to making sense of life, before and after death.

… and Holy Spirit… God is alive, loving and active today, inspiring faith, justice and truth, sustaining the life of the world, giving spiritual gifts to the church and bearing his spiritual fruit in the world – changed lives and a transformed society.

Finding out more

If you want to wait before contacting anyone, and you’d rather find out more about Jesus online visit www.rejesus.co.uk or www.christianity.org.uk.

But because Christianity is about relationship and community, the best way to find out about faith and prayer, to raise questions and to get help, is to meet some Christians. The Church of England is just one of the Christian churches in this country. We seek to work alongside other Christian churches and denominations as closely as we can.

You can also learn more about God as he is in Jesus by reading the Bible – why not start with the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament?

The Church of England is made up of communities of Christians in every corner of the land.

Most of these communities can be found via the parish church buildings in every city and town and in almost every village.

Many Anglicans now meet in and through smaller groups, relating to networks of people in our fast-changing society. Or they seek to serve particular groups of people and to find their Christian identity alongside them.

Other Anglicans are committed to traditional religious communities, whether as monks and nuns or as people associated with those communities.

There are also online communities of Christians who use the resources of the web to make contact.

If you need help with finding a local contact where you live, just email us at mission@c-of-e.org.uk and we’ll put you in touch with Christians close to you.

© The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2004

This information is inserted from the Church of England website. For further information please go to www.cofe.anglican.org/faith/christian/

The word evangelism describes those many processes and ministries which enable people to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

The word ‘evangelism’ describes the loving words and actions that enable men, women, young people and children to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

This work of evangelism cannot be separated from the whole of God’s mission, since the Christian vocation to live in community with God must always include doing the work of God and working for God’s purposes. This is why the great commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel asks us to ‘make disciples’ (Mathew 28.19). A disciple is someone who follows the call of Christ and participates in God’s purposes for the world. Hence the missionary church seeks to live and share the gospel in such a way that others join in Christian community, and dedicate their lives to God’s mission in the world.

The chief Evangelist is God. Just as the church is called to share in all God’s mission, so it is called to share in the ministry of evangelism. And we do it in lots of different and complementary ways. But for most people today becoming a Christian will be like a journey. The ministry of evangelism is therefore best understood as helping people make the journey. Although this journey will take many forms, the church needs to develop particular attitudes, activities and ministries if it is going to be faithful to the calling to make disciples. In most situations this ministry of evangelism will involve the ministry of an evangelist: this is someone who is called and equipped by God to take a particular role in helping others come to know and serve Christ within his church.

An Evangelist is someone who –

  • Comes from the church and is fed by the church;
  • Goes where the church isn’t;
  • Proclaims and lives the gospel;
  • Interprets the church to the world and the world to the church;
  • Encourages all to play their part in God’s ministry of evangelism.

An Evangelist is therefore someone who, though fed by the centre, is most likely to be involved at the edge. This is what it means to go where the church isn’t. The evangelist will be a joyful and provocative presence at the beginning of journeys, or at least at that place where people’s journeys towards God intersect with God’s journey towards them. The Evangelist is a messenger and a guide. The Evangelist is a presence, a proclaimer, a storyteller, a translator, a sign. Trying to see the world through the eyes of God, the evangelist is the one who sees Christ in others and who longs for them to see Christ in themselves.

For many the word evangelism still conjures up negative images of coercion and manipulation. Some Christians evangelise in ways that seem far removed from the joy and generosity that characterised the life of Christ. But within the College of Evangelists we believe that what we are called to share is the abundant life that is shown us in Christ, and that is available to all by the Holy Spirit and within the household of God’s church. This is evangelism and it is the way God’s church and God’s kingdom grows.

Mission and Evangelism

“Mission goes out from God. Mission is God’s way of loving and saving the world…” (Lambeth Conference 1998, Section II p121).

God’s mission

As Christians we follow Jesus who said “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20.21). We are called to serve God’s mission by living and proclaiming the good news. “It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church”.

For Anglican Christians God’s mission is about transformation – transforming individual lives, transforming communities and transforming the world. As we follow Jesus Christ, we believe that God’s mission is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in three ways: through the Bible, through the tradition and life of the Church, and through our own listening, praying, thinking and sharing as we respond to our own context.

Five marks of mission

In 1984 the Anglican Consultative Council (www.anglicancommunion.org) began to develop a “mission statement” for the worldwide Anglican communion, and the bishops of the Lambeth Conference adopted these “Five Marks Of Mission” in 1988. They were then adopted by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1996.

  • To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain the life of the earth

The Anglican Consultative Council notes

“The first mark of mission… is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus’ own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). Instead of being just one of five distinct activities, this should be the key statement about everything we do in mission.”

Mission-shaped church

In 2004 the General Synod commended the report “Mission-shaped church” to the whole of the Church of England. Building on the five marks of mission, this report speaks of five values for a missionary church:

A missionary church is focused on God the Trinity
Worship lies at the heart of a missionary church, and to love and know God as Father, Son and Spirit is its chief inspiration and primary purpose…
A missionary church is incarnational
It seeks to shape itself in relation to the culture in which it is located or to which it is called…
A missionary church is transformational
It exists for the transformation of the community that it serves, through the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit…
A missionary church makes disciples
It is active in calling people to faith in Jesus Christ…it is concerned for the transformation of individuals, as well as for the transformation of communities.
A missionary church is relational
It is characterized by welcome and hospitality. Its ethos and style are open to change when new members join.
“Mission-shaped church” pp.81-2

These values are an outworking of the traditional Declaration of Assent which Anglican clergy, readers and licensed lay workers make on taking up a new appointment. The Declaration speaks of the faith we hold, “which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation”.

The Church is committed to encourage these “fresh expressions of church” and they may be seen in many places, contexts, neighbourhoods and networks, alongside the traditional worship and work of Christians in the church and in the world. “Mission-shaped church” is full of examples. (for more details of the book, seewww.chpublishing.co.uk)

Evangelism

Evangelism is about enabling personal awakening of faith in Jesus Christ. It involves sharing that faith person to person so that people have the opportunity to respond freely to the Gospel (good news) of God’s love in their own setting. It is a key part of the wider Christian mission.

In the 1990s, the “Decade of Evangelism”, the church explored appropriate ways to share faith in God in our culture and context, so that people might hear and respond to the good news of Jesus in ways that made sense for them, and so that their questions and problems could be honestly faced and discussed.

Now, in the new millennium, the lessons of the Decade are being refined and put into practice as we learn together how to fulfil St Peter’s words:

“…in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15,16 (New Revised Standard Version of the Bible)

Contacts & Links

Most dioceses have appointed missioners whose task is to help the whole Church to fulfil its mission and to share its faith courageously and courteously. If you want to contact any diocesan missioner to find out about the Church of England’s mission and the sharing of faith where you are, email mission@c-of-e.org.uk and we’ll let you have local contact details.

The mission agencies of the Church of England are concerned with mission worldwide as well as in this country. To tap into their experience and creative skill in mission, visit the Partnership for World Mission site.

For details of our approach to evangelism among children please see the web pages of Evangelism among Children.

For information about the mission & evangelism dimension of our ecumenical partnerships, visit www.gfe.org.uk

For resources and information of value to evangelists and practitioners visit www.evangelism.net