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Launching the Diocesan Community of Evangelists


It’s hoped the Community of Evangelists can give confidence and support to churches, clergy and lay people across the Diocese of Sheffield.

Initial conversations took place towards the end of 2022, with more talks planned throughout this year.

What is the Community of Evangelists? How did it come about?

A Diocesan Community of Evangelists aims to bring together several groups engaged in evangelism across the diocese and offer their ministry and experience more widely. It builds on faithful ministry by Church Army Evangelists and Lay Parish Evangelists stretching back many years. But there is still something distinct and new about it, reflected in the fact that the impetus to discuss this came from several independent sources.

Firstly, we have gained valuable experience on the Northern Bishops’ Missions. The fact that these have not yet resumed gives us space to engage more locally. The Covid-19 pandemic brought many curious people to engage with us, particularly online, and showed that there is spiritual openness and hunger in our communities. Finally, we realised that we have several members of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists (currently five, others exploring). Bishop Sophie, John Hibberd and Mark Brown have been the ones to put their heads together and try to get something going.

The Archbishops’ College of Evangelists aims to raise the profile of evangelism and evangelists across the Church of England. It provides mutual support and accountability and a code of good practice, which is valued both by its members and the churches they go to serve.

Rev Mark Brown (All Saints Ecclesall), a founder member of the College says,

“Evangelists seem to have a natural, easy and persuasive way of talking about Christ to others in a way that leads to changed lives. This new initiative across our Diocese aims to keep in step with a national aspiration to liberate and make more public the gift and ministry of an evangelist. I have been thrilled in many contexts to see faith coming alive as evangelists of skill with a variety of approaches are put to work alongside others in the growth of the Church.”

What are you hoping to achieve from this?

Our Diocesan vision talks about making disciples in every place through sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, and our strategy includes numerical growth. Quite a few Christians feel ill-equipped to do this and some churches struggle to remember the last time they saw someone become a new Christian. Just as God has given wise pastors and teachers to bless the Church, so there are evangelists gifted to equip others and to be intentional about evangelism.

An initial gathering in November brought together about 30 such people. Bishop Sophie writes:

“There is no greater privilege than seeing a person come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus and to witness lives being transformed by his love. I have had the joy of learning from Christians who are gifted for this ministry for many years. Simply being with them has inspired and encouraged me in evangelism too. Our vision for a Community of Evangelists is to grow a network of enthusiasts with a bit of a track record and a passion for enabling faith in others. We look forward to opportunities to support churches in their mission – do get in touch with John if you think the Community of Evangelists could help.”

What can this network offer to the diocese?

The people who came to the first gathering represent a wide cross-section within our diocese of lay and ordained people. Some of them offer specialist areas of knowledge in evangelism but all are united in wanting to make Jesus known. This network could help to equip people to share their faith, in line with and in partnership with Lights for Christ; this could be in parish life or work or other contexts. We could offer planning support and speakers for one-off evangelistic events, building on the relationships the church has been fostering. Or, we could work with a church round its yearly calendar to shape a series of events where the gospel can be shared more intentionally. Short missions (weekends or a week) are also possible (one is already being planned). These could involve a Bishop plus team, but note that this sort of engagement requires a decent lead-time and careful preparation.

John Hibberd writes,

“Seeing someone transformed by fullness of life in Jesus is a wonderful thing. Whether this comes about by traditional approaches or innovative ones, we would love to partner churches and individuals that, together, we might see this happen in many places.”

How can people get involved?

We would love to partner with churches in any of the ways mentioned above. If you are a church leader, contact and let’s begin a conversation. But the community itself is not a ‘closed shop’. It’s entirely possible that there are evangelists out there who we simply haven’t met. If that’s you, please get in touch.