Archbishop Stephen Cottrell 2022 Lambeth plenary on Mission and Evangelism

Archbishop Stephen gave this address at the 2022 Lambeth Conference plenary on Mission and Evangelism.

You can also watch the video version on Youtube.

The address includes these encouraging words:

Evangelism can be a bit of a scary word, but inside the scary word evangelism you will find the lovely, beautiful word, angel. And it tells you what the word means. Sisters and brothers, my grandma came from the north of England. And she would always call me an angel. She would say ‘Stephen, be an angel put the kettle on. ‘Stephen, be an angel, run up the shops for me’.

I want to say to the bishops of the Anglican Communion, be angels, be messengers of the good news that God has lavished on us in Jesus Christ. Share with others what you have received. Bishops, evangelism is our core business too.

We are called to lead evangelising churches in a world where there is so much need and confusion and what the world needs is what God has lavished upon us in Christ.

So, I’m not standing here telling you how to do evangelism in your context, or the latest techniques to adopt. Nor am I going to try and impress you with stories of growth or scare you with stories of decline. But I do and must speak about the heart and spirit of evangelism, which is simply this: am I receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ as good news for my life? Is it the desire of my heart to share it with others? And where is the place where all my titles and entitlements and the baggage that goes with being a bishop are swept away and I am just Stephen before God? And if I don’t have that place where I know my need of God, and where God’s Spirit evangelises me afresh, then I’m in trouble.

So, my advice to myself, when it comes to evangelism, is this: Stephen, receive the gospel each day. Let it transform your life. Remember that you are a sinner in need of God’s grace. Today and every day. Then share that with others. Point the way to Christ and be humble before him. Build a church where those who are formed in Christ are also sent out to live and proclaim the gospel, a truly apostolic church. And finally remember, that the gospel needs to be shared with cultures and tribes and nations as well as with individuals. Because our core business is making disciples – people whose lives are conformed to Christ and are participating in God’s mission of love to the world – then the other things that concern us at this Lambeth Conference, like living with disagreement, like seeking carbon net zero, these may turn out to be the very best things we do for evangelism, because if we can do these things the world will look at us and say, these followers of Jesus they live differently, and the lives they lead align with the words they say. They love one another. They care for the earth. They seek peace. Please show us this Jesus you follow.