Churches must make disciples, says bishop

Churches in England face the “urgent task of making new disciples”, says the new Bishop of Shrewsbury.

|PIC1|The Rev Canon Mark Rylands said the “number one priority” of churches was to demonstrate the Good News of Jesus Christ in their communities and share the faith “naturally”.

He said that the task of growing the church and the Kingdom was not restricted to the clergy.

“We need to continually encourage lay ministers, youth workers, church wardens and the whole people of God to set about this task,” he said.

Rev Rylands said “extra red tape” had made the role of bishop more complicated but added that he aimed to “keep it simple and concentrate on the basics”.

“It seems that where the parish clergy are having to become more episcopal now in overseeing more churches and helping people to discover their gifts, bishops need to become more apostolic, helping to share the faith, and make and grow new disciples,” he said.

Rev Rylands said he hoped to bring his passion for rural mission to his new post and see small churches grow and make a difference.

“We have so much where we can work together in mission,” he said.

“We want to see God’s Kingdom reign here in north Shropshire and we want the churches to be a beacon of that Kingdom.

“We need to concentrate on making new disciples and growing mature disciples so we can become Christians who make a difference in our communities.”

Rev Rylands will be consecrated at Westminster Abbey on 28 October and installed at Lichfield Cathedral on Sunday 1 November. A service to welcome him to Shrewsbury will be held in Shrewsbury Abbey on Monday 2 November.

He succeeds the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, who has become Bishop of St Albans.

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