Evangelism at heart of General Synod agenda

The need to mobilise the whole Church of England to reach out to others with the Christian message is set to dominate discussions at next month’s General Synod in London.

Papers published today set out how “small behavioural changes” by the around one million people who regularly attend Church of England churches could make a “huge difference”.

Synod members will also discuss evangelism among young people, and the need for a “culture of Invitation” in parishes, not only to reverse decline in attendance but to spread the good news to wider society.

As part of that, Synod will discuss a call for the Church to renew its commitment to be “a Christian presence in every community” by reaching out into housing estates where churches, clubs, amenities and public services have withdrawn in recent decades.

In a paper discussing evangelism on estates, the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, urges the Church to recognise the “historic marginalisation” of social housing areas in the policies of both church and nation.

“Whilst estates were built with great optimism and can be good places to live, residents can often be dealing with multiple problems,” he writes. “Many lives are ravaged by the contemporary ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’: universal credit, low-paid work, food poverty and austerity.”

Synod will also debate a motion calling for the Government to rein in the spread of gambling advertising to protect children.