Wednesday, June 04, 2014
Call to Prayer from Justin Welby
Prayer has to be our first priority, if we are to call more people to follow Christ, and to invite others to share in the story of God’s love for the world. The wonderful news is God is always ready to hear our prayers and to send his Spirit that we may proclaim the good news afresh. I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God’s heart for all his people.”
Having an Archbishop of Canterbury prepared to say that the main business of the church is calling people to follow Jesus, and calling us to pray together for that, takes some getting used to. But I'm quite happy to get used to it. This call to prayer is on the new Use Words website, one of the first fruits of the Archbishops new evangelism task group. I love the title: there is a lot of talk about the supposed line from St. Francis 'preach the gospel, use words if necessary'. The spurious attribution to Francis (there is no record of him ever having said it) gives it credibility, the idea that words are an optional part of the gospel ('good news') is simply bizarre. It's a great escape hatch for British Christians who are shy about evangelism, and it needs to be challenged.
The other great thing is that a site devoted to evangelism in the CofE starts by being devoted pretty much entirely to prayer. Spot on. The Pentecost story (which the CofE is living through at the moment in the church year), sketches out the pattern: spend time with Jesus, wait, pray, then into Spirit-led mission. The 'great commission' is given with the instruction to wait prayerfully first.
Justin Welby has also written this tie-in piece 'what we talk about when we talk about evangelism', for Christan Today
update: excellent piece by Chris Russell in the Church Times.