Evangelism 'must not be forced on others', says Archbishop of Canterbury


Christian witness "must be both confident and humble", the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in an Easter letter to churches around the world.

Archbishop Justin Welby said that although it was a Christian duty to share the faith, it was important that Christians season their message with "gentleness and respect" and not force their beliefs onto others.

"Our proclamation of the hope which is ours in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ must be both confident and humble," he wrote.

"In our complex and plural world our evangelism must not be forced on others, but as followers of Christ we have a duty to bear witness to our faith: to speak of hope for the world in the Resurrection of Christ, a message seasoned with gentleness and respect.

"Our actions of love, compassion, respect and gentleness confirm that the message we share is indeed good news." 

He reflected on the need for Christians to bring a message of hope to communities as people around the world continue to suffer as a result of environmental damage, war, terrorism, and political and economic instability. 

In addition, he warned of the "twin threats of extremism and apathy". 

"Our world is in desperate need of hope. As Christians we have a message of sure and certain hope to proclaim," he wrote. 

The call for humility echoes a recent appeal made by the Archbishop specifically to British Christians to be sensitive to their country's colonial past and how it might affect their witness in communities that were part of the Empire. 

Delivering the Deo Gloria Trust lecture, Archbishop Welby said it was important that Christians engage in dialogue rather than monologue, and recognise the positive contributions of people who belong to different faiths.

"How are British Christians heard when we talk of the claims of Christ by diaspora communities who have experienced abuse and exploitation by an empire that has seemed to hold the Christian story at the heart of its project?" he said.

He added: "Let us never be guilty of demeaning the light that others have, just show them something of the light you know.

"Let's tell people about Jesus and witness to what he has done for us, without feeling the need to presume to tell others what is wrong with their faith."