Monday, November 18, 2013

General Synod on 'The Priority of Evangelism and Making New Disciples'. No, you're not dreaming.

Following this afternoons debate on 'Intentional Evangelism' (which prompted some wag on Twitter to ask what 'Unintentional Evangelism' might look like), the CofE General Synod passed this motion:

'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 GS 1917 and urge that its members include:
(i)  staff of Anglican home mission agencies with expertise in helping local churches engage in effective evangelism and disciple-making, and
(ii)  those with a proven record in those disciplines at local level".'
(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; and
(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.'
(e) urge every local church in 2014 prayerfully to try tat least one new way, appropriate to their local context, of seeking to make new disciples of Jesus Christ.".'
Bits in italics are amendments added during the debate. 
One concern already voiced is that 'top-down' initiatives from the CofE rarely work, and that encouraging evangelism and disciple-making needs to happen from the bottom up. What the top can provide is accountability, encouragement, permission, and reshaping of structures. Sections d and e won't amount to very much unless bishops, archdeacons, clergy and church members all pick them up and run with them. But if they become standard practice, then they could make a huge difference. 
I'm encouraged by the fact that both Archbishops have made this a priority, both in Synod agenda terms, and in their own commitment to it - up to 6 meetings a year on the task group for up to 5 years. This is the kind of long-term leadership we need to bring about a change of culture and practices. It can't happen soon enough.
For snippets from the main background paper to this debate, have a look here.

And for a penetrating insight into Synod processes, try this. Really, try it. 


  1. I notice that while they specified diocesan, deanery synods and PCCs, where they can but express a pious hope! they stopped short of any attempt to bind their own agenda to include it on any future occasion. A case of "don't do what we do, do what we say"?

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  3. (corrected spelling) I was sorry they lost the amendment on young people because that is really where the rubber hits the road. The overwhelming turn-off for young people (according to the latest Linda Woodhead YouGov intel) is the Church's discriminatory stance and behaviour against women and gay people. (That was cited by 39% of under 30's as the reason they held the Church in contempt as opposed to 5% who mentioned outdated language and services). So an elephant continues chomping away in a corner of the room, and however welcome progress on women is, the Pilling Report may turn into an opportunity to make as big fools of ourselves on gays as we have on women fro the past ten years. It's not that society is terribly liberal. It isn't. But this whole thing has happened elsewhere and passed us by. Today, kicking and screaming on this subject, in itself, is a problem. Meanwhile the building of the Kingdom will go on, because it grows like yeast locally, but the question for the C of E nationally is whether to carry on shouting the same old stuff louder in the hope people will understand, or to grow up, learn the language and start telling the mighty acts of God in it. It's our call.