The Church in the Community

oak tree

Lord - As the acorn becomes a great oak tree, may your Church grow strong with healthy roots and spreading branches.

A record of a SPECIAL EVENT - Sunday, 22 February 2004


Canon Stephen Cottrell, Bishop Elect of Reading


Around 40 members of the congregation come to hear Stephen explain how we can all help spread the Christian Gospel. Evangelism can take place in the most ordinary ways without any cause for feeling self-conscious or threatened.

What is Evangelism?

We tend to think of telly-evangelists and intrusive approaches but evangelism simply means sharing good news

Appropriate and effective evangelism is happening in the Church of England - in many ways. Our own faith is living proof of this and we would not be here to day if it had not already taken place in our lives.

Where do we start?

Have we received Christian faith as good news for ourselves? If not, it is fruitless to try and share it with others. We can only share good news in as much as we have received it ourselves.

Coming to faith is an ongoing journey. We experience the witness of many people on our journey, i.e., welcome, encouragement, preaching and teaching, service of church in the community....

Asking the right question

The WRONG question: How can we get others to come to Church? Most people nowadays are culturally too far removed from any interest in 'church'.

God is the evangelist. It is God who draws us, sustains us and inspires us in our Christian witness.

The RIGHT question: How can we serve those with whom we already have contact in a way that makes the Gospel intriguing, challenging and appealing? How can we share the good news in an appropriate and an effective way?

Being a good witness

God uses our prayers to make his purposes known on earth.

All of us have a part to play in God's work of evangelism.

The Church of England suffers from stunted growth because we do not realise the best evangelism is the ordinary witness of Christians in everyday life, reflecting God's love in all we think, say and do. The Gospel speaks through us in the life we lead.

The work of evangelism is to help people make the journey to becoming a Christian. In the diagram most people are at the contact point [green n] in their journey of nurture towards a living, church based faith.

diagram of journey to becoming a Christian


We cannot expect people to travel on the direct line to commitment. It can take at least 4-5 years of careful nurture. The left hand side of the diagram takes the rest of our life!

Serving the Community

So the right question is: How can we serve those with whom we already have contact in such a way as to make the Gospel intriguing, challenging and appealing?

At this stage we did some work and listed the people and interest groups with whom we have contact, e.g. Bell ringers, Husbands or Wives, Parents, Library, Tennis Club, History Society, WEA, School, Play group, Day Nursery, ....... etc.

Then we thought of Jesus on the Emmaus Road asking the two disciples what they were talking about. Might we serve people by providing a church forum for their questions?

E.g. Arrange a focused event for parents of young children:
Questions children ask. This was an actual, successful event.

In other words we could ask "What issues do you face as you bring up children?" In what ways could these be relieved?

E.g. lack of time, money, childcare, education, drugs, leisure facilities, safety, law and order, peer pressure, role models, mobile family ... We could hold an event around any of these.


In what different ways can we serve our community with the Gospel, offering companionship, practical help, listening ..... and then move on to speak about the Gospel?


This is an Acorn Event