Bishop of Lincoln's letter for July 2017
'We are convinced that England will never be converted until the laity use the opportunities for evangelism daily offered by their various professions, crafts and occupations… this being so, the Christian laity should be recognised as the priesthood of the Church in the working world, and as the Church militant in action in the mission fields of politics, industry and commerce.' So said the 1946 report, Towards the Conversion of England, commissioned by Archbishop
Seventy years later, and a more recent report, Setting God's People Free, debated at General Synod earlier this year, makes exactly the same point, and asks for what it calls two major culture changes in the way we think about being and doing Church.
Until, together, we find a way to form and equip lay people to follow Jesus confidently in every sphere of life in ways that demonstrate the Gospel we will never set Gods people free to evangelise the nation, says the report. Until laity and clergy are convinced, based on their baptismal mutuality, that they are equal in worth and status, complementary in gifting and vocation, mutually accountable in discipleship and equal partners in mission, we will never form communities that can evangelise the nation.
It is a report that reminds us that as Christians we are not just redeemed from something, but for something as well. Each one of us is called to play our part in bringing about the transformation of our world and of lives as we share what
we know of Jesus in all the different places God sends us to. We gather together on a Sunday to be sent scattered into the world as Church the other six days of the week.
It is an exciting vision of what the Church has always been called to be, but maybe one we have not always lived out. The challenge for us as a diocese is how we do that now, to move from just words in a report, to actions that make a
difference. Seventy years has been a long time to wait!
+ David Grimsby