21 October 2019
Around 250 representatives from across the Connexion came together at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster on Saturday 19 October to be part of a consultation to refine the new Evangelism and Growth strategy entitled ‘God For All’.
The consultation opened with worship and song accompanied by Jazz Church from Birmingham and continued with testimonies from a variety of people from around the Connexion. The current Youth President, Thelma Commey said her early experiences of singing and dancing in Sunday School led her to want to live out what she was singing. She said in order to do this she needed to trust in God “no matter how scary it was.”
Mark North is a minister who works in the former mining community of Bolsover in the Sheffield district and said much of his community work is with people who are experiencing addiction, poverty and deprivation. He said it was his privilege to be part of that: “In evangelism we learn as much from the communities we live in as we give to them” and concluded by saying that he was “meeting God in the beauty of brokenness.”
Trey Hall, Director of Evangelism and Growth, talked about how evangelism is a crucial and non-negotiable part of Our Calling to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Jesus Christ. He explained that the strategy had come from conversations that have been taking place around the Connexion over the past year, but ultimately the stories come from God.
The delegates attended workshops and small groups throughout the day to discuss the eight commitments that form the core of the Evangelism and Growth strategy; Centred in God, Everyone an Evangelist, Transformational Leadership, New Places for New People, Every Church a Growing Church, Church at the Margins, Digital Presence: Digital Age Mission, Young Evangelists, Pioneers and Leaders. Those attending where invited to consider what they liked and disliked regarding each commitment and to raise questions. The results were shared, with common themes expressed around resourcing the commitments and ensuring that building God’s Kingdom remained central to the strategy and to the direction of the Church’s future.
Also present were representatives from other denominations; the United Reformed Church, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Union and the Methodist Church in Ireland. All were invited to contribute to the conversation and presented their own thoughts on the Evangelism and Growth Strategy from an ecumenical perspective. Simon Goddard, representing the Baptist Union and a pioneer for Fresh Expressions commented: “Methodism needs to take a risk and let the next generation take the lead.”
Speaking after the event, the Director of Evangelism and Growth, Trey Hall, said: “Thank you to all the participants, who spent time preparing for the day and travelled so far to join together, to listen and talk. It has been a day of spiritual joy!”
“There was a palpable sense of the Holy Spirit among us. And a strong conviction that this great change, this culture shift towards being an increasingly evangelistic, growing, justice-seeking, and inclusive Church, is where God is leading us. There was a great sense of passion and affirmation for the draft strategy as well as some deep and prophetic questions. As one presenter said, these questions show how engaged we are with this strategy and how much we want this transformation. Now our work as a Connexion is to embed these commitments in every District, Circuit, and local church.”
The Revd. Dr. Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Conference, thanked the contributors and challenged the consultation to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit, “who is able to do more than we ask or expect or imagine.”
Feedback from Saturday’s consultation, and other consultations that have taken place around the Connexion, are being collated by the Evangelism and Growth Team and will be used to further refine the ‘God For All’ strategy. This will be presented to the Methodist Conference 2020.