Justin Welby on evangelism: 'Prayer has to be our first priority'
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written exclusively for Christian Today to launch a website designed to resource and equip Christians in evangelism.
Usewords.org is the product of the Archbishops' Evangelism Task Group, which, comprises about a dozen experts and practitioners in the field including Rev Annie Kirke, pioneer of missional communities in the diocese of London, and Rev Andy Croft of Soul Survivor.
In his first presidential address to Synod last July, Welby labelled evangelism as one of his three main priorities in ministry. "We need new imagination in evangelism through prayer, and a fierce determination not to let evangelism be squeezed off our agendas," he urged.
"The gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed the good news for our times. God is always good news; we are the ones who make ourselves irrelevant when we are not good news. And when we are good news, God's people see growing churches."
He established the task force in order to see the Church transformed through evangelism and to propel his passion for people coming to know God. "It is the task of this group to see every church and every Christian embrace their calling to be those who proclaim the gospel in word and deed," he said.
In his article for Christian Today, the Archbishop writes of his belief that, "if only we truly 'got' evangelism, we, the Church would live to show what it meant. And to 'get' it means to receive it, and to give it. Continually.
"And if we lived what we spoke of, and spoke of what we lived, no-one would have to point at the Church and wonder what it was for".
He calls on Christians to "join us in asking the Holy Spirit to work across the country in our parishes and communities, our friends and our neighbours, and in his Church that the Good News of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed, heard, lived and trusted," noting the importance of seeking God's guidance in all things.
"In Jesus, God has chosen to effect life for us, to make all the difference for us, to free us by bringing us grace, mercy and hope. This is the most wonderful news any of us could ever receive. Following Jesus is the best decision any person can ever make. We are convinced of this," he writes.
UseWords offers prayer resources for children, students and young people, as well as advice on such activities as prayer walking and creating prayer rooms. It also features an impassioned call to prayer by Welby himself, who declares that "Prayer has to be our first priority".
"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," he says.
"I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God's heart for all his people."