Talk About Jesus, Not About How The Archbishop Voted On Brexit, Bishop Tells Christians

The Bishop of Durham is urging Christians to talk about Jesus, not about Brexit.

He also suggested that anyone hoping to evangelise new Christians should avoid talking about the Church of England.

He was one of up to 25 bishops, including the Archbishop of York, in Durham for a four-day evangelism event, 'Talking Jesus'. They are examining a series of 450 outreach programmes ranging from abseiling to coffee mornings.

The Bishop of Durham launches the four-day event in Durham Cathedral with the Archbishop of York watching onChristian Today / Harry Farley

Rt Rev Paul Butler, one of the Church of England's top five bishops, warned hundreds to resist talking about the institutional church at a launch event in Durham Cathedral on Thursday.

'Avoid wherever possible talking about the Church or however the Archbishop voted [on Brexit],' he said. 'Let's keep to talking about Jesus.'

He told Christian Today: 'I think there is a danger that we get wrapped up in institutional conversations. Whereas the heart of what we are about is we are followers of Jesus. It is God's kingdom. Jesus is the Lord and Saviour. Not the Church.' 

He said: 'We have unashamedly entitled the four days Talking Jesus. We want to make Jesus the topic of conversation and thought. We want to get people thinking about Jesus. We have opportunities galore to meet people face to face. Our focus throughout is to share Jesus.'

The Archbishop of York talking with locals in Durham market square after the event launch on ThursdayChristian Today / Harry Farley

The Church of England has seen a year on year decline in regular attendance over the past decades with less than one million people going to church on a weekly basis.

With attendance across Durham's parishes at less than one per cent of the population Butler admitted the task can seem daunting.

'I think people are nervous. They are worried people will ask them questions they don't know the answer to when actually people want to hear the story,' he told Christian Today afterwards.

'Day to day it is about living the lifestyle of Jesus in our places of work and communities, praying for people and taking the opportunities to talk about Jesus when they can.'

The Archbishop of York and his team will join hundreds of other churchgoers, clergy and bishops in teaming up with local parishes for the weekend.

'If people in the United Kingdom talked more about Jesus than they talked about weather we might get some traction,' he told Christian Today. 'For me the greatest thing is that in Jesus Christ God invites us to be his friend, invites us to get to know him to get to love him.'