In the context of our interviews for a Children’s and Families Worker to support our ministry at St Paul’s and through Sarisbury Junior School I found this article from Mark Russell very interesting reading. One quote from the article which you can read below:

“… youth workers and children’s workers were the staff member that most contributed to church growth … If a church wants to grow, it should hire a children’s or youth worker.”

Evangelism – not an optional extra

One of the soundbites people quote from me most often is when I say that “evangelism is not an optional extra, it is front and centre of being a disciple of Jesus Christ”. Evangelism is not an expansion strategy for a dying institution. I passionately believe evangelism is about helping other people know they matter to Jesus and helping them know his grace and love in their lives. Evangelism is about changing people, changing communities and changing the nation. Evangelism is God’s idea. He is the evangelist. He is the one always drawing people to himself. He just needs us, his church, to join in.

I have the privilege of being part of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group. This important group, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been set up to help the Church of England do evangelism better. I thought I would write a little about what this group has been up to. One of the difficulties of a group like this is that it bites off more than it can chew and its effectiveness becomes limited. As a group, we have sought a few priorities that we want to work on:

  • We don’t want to create a raft of new initiatives – so one of our tasks will be to collate the resources that are available and help signpost them to the wider church.
  • We have been working on recommendations to make it easier to plant new church communities.
  • We are working with Ministry Division to improve evangelism training for ordained clergy.
  • We want to help resource local churches to train local Christians to be more confident in sharing their faith with their friends and neighbours. Church Army’s Stepping into evangelism resource has been really well-received and the group are excited that Church Army wants to develop a short training course in evangelism that local churches can use.

The other main area the group has focussed on is children and young people. This is very close to my heart, and along with Andy Croft from Soul Survivor, I have been asked to lead this part of the Task Group’s work. The average age of the Church of England is 67 and the average age of England is 41. Half of our parishes have no young people in them at all. It is not an understatement to say the church faces a crisis and we need to invest in more children and youth workers. The group wants to encourage the church to put more resources into youth and children’s work. At the recent Church Commissioners sponsored conference From Evidence to Action, Professor David Voas from the University of Essex, said youth workers and children’s workers were the staff member that most contributed to church growth. Not the vicar, curate, organist, administrator, verger or all the other people churches employ. If a church wants to grow, it should hire a children’s or youth worker.

Church Army has always had a prophetic calling to speak out to the wider church. I am delighted that being part of this group of brilliant people allows me to contribute to helping re-orientate the Church of England to be more evangelistic, more outward looking and I hope more fun.

Mark Russell
23 January 2015
Mark Russell is Chief Executive of Church Army and is a member of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Evangelism.

You can read the original article HERE