The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited all churches and members of the Church of England to keep this week, leading up to the feast of Pentecost, as a week of prayer for the evangelisation of our nation and for the mission of the Church.
The need to share our faith and to keep our focus on calling new members to join our churches has been a key focus for Archbishop Justin ever since he was appointed to the See of Canterbury, and rightly so. We have been a church in decline for decades. Each new set of statistics has shown that fewer people worship in our churches and a smaller proportion of the population claim to align themselves with a religion in our country (although that proportion remains remarkably high).
The need to evangelise is clear. The Church of England is nowhere near ceasing to exist, or even becoming a small player in the religious scene of England, but the decline is something that needs to be addressed.
This is as much about what it is to be a Christian as it is to do with halting the decline. Christians are people who are so filled with the Spirit of Christ that they are compelled to share that joy with others. Much of what we are told about the Christian life by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament emphasises the need to share good news – about telling the world that God is ready to forgive sins, about sharing the good news that because Jesus has overcome death we all can share his new life, about the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives us the will and the ability to share this good news.
This initiative entitled Thy Kingdom Come, deliberately choosing a phrase from the Lord’s prayer, is designed first of all to encourage us all to pray for the evangelisation of our nation but just as importantly to remind us of our duty to evangelise in our communities. But that is the purpose of prayer – to challenge us and compel us to bring about that for which we pray. We pray for our nation to be evangelised but God uses those who pray to bring that about.
None of us were born as Christians, we all became Christians because the gospel was proclaimed to us, we, in our turn must proclaim the gospel today. Our prayer must always be Thy Kingdom Come and our work must always be to work for the coming of the kingdom.