Global delegates join CMS Ireland for 200th anniversary celebrations
As members of the Church throughout the world, we are called to live and serve in different contexts, but the message we bring is the same: our God is the God of Jesus Christ; our God is a missionary God; our God is a God who transforms lives and communities …
It was with this and other reflections that Church Mission Society Ireland’s Changing Times events were brought to a conclusion by the Archbishop of Burundi, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi.
The two-day conference and the Evening Celebration, both held in the Armagh City Hotel on 15th and 16th May, were the focal points of CMSI’s 200th anniversary programme.
Archbishop Ntahoturi was one of 27 global delegates who took part in a two-week programme prior to the anniversary celebrations with CMSI and 50 host parishes from the Church of Ireland.
‘STEPPING INTO EVANGELISM’
Church Army has just published what promises to be a real boost to the task of communicating the faith. Entitled Stepping into evangelism, the attractively produced 63-page book encourages individuals and parishes to think about evangelism in new and searching ways.
It is true that many Christian people are hesitant to talk about their faith, especially to those who are outside the congregation or their immediate circles of friends. It is true that faith is a very personal aspect of people’s lives but, at the same time, there is a call to every Christian person to do what he or she can to communicate the faith to others who do not know it.
As the Chief Executive of Church Army, Mark Russell, writes: “Evangelism is not merely a growth strategy; it is not about helping to shore up a dying institution. Evangelism is about restoring the created order to the vision that God has.” Mr Russell also writes about the Bible being “the narrative of God’s story to bring humanity home” and reflects on how Christian people have so much to share with others – “a hope that anchors the soul through every trial and hardship” … “a name that is higher and greater than the name of any disease or sickness” … the knowledge that “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of our heavenly Father”.
This latest publication from Church Army not only is strong on the theory of evangelism but also provides some very pertinent insights. For example, as it is pointed out, every individual has a journey of faith, whether it began with a dramatic conversion experience or gradually grew over time.
Truly, whatever our own story is, we should first of all know it clearly ourselves, and then seek to share it more widely. People perhaps do not very often actually pause to ask themselves, with any depth, ‘How have I come to this faith?’, but it is important to think that through, so that we truly know our own ‘faith selves’. This is not an exercise for a few fleeting moments, but is a question that needs to be more thoroughly thought through. How did it all start? What were the influences? How has it changed me? What difference does it make for me?
In terms of a parish reaching out into the community, one of the insights that Stepping into evangelism provides is the importance of knowing what is of wider concern to people locally, and then asking how the parish fares when it comes to having some response to those concerns.
These and other important aspects of evangelism are topics addressed by Church Army in this book and its publication is, indeed, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, “a gift from God, via Church Army, to enable each of us to live out the most freeing, exciting and life-giving of mandates that God offers: to be witnesses to Jesus Christ”.
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