Saturday, 5 December 2009

5 things I love about Anglicans...

Ready for a bold statement? I believe evangelicalism in the UK in the last century would be a pale shadow of what it is without the Anglican Church. Or rather, without the evangelical wing of the Anglican Church.

Here is why:

1) SCHOLARSHIP: Many of the heavyweights of British evangelicalism, McGrath, Stott, Wenham, Wright, and on and on and on come from and work(ed) within the Anglican communion. Remove them from the scholarly record of the last 50 years and life would be so different. Evangelicalism cannot stand firm in 21st century Britain without the scholarship of the Anglicans. Period.

2) THE ALPHA COURSE: Far and away the greatest evangelistic breakthrough in the last twenty years is the Alpha Course. Not just the Alpha Course, the resources, the training, the encouragement, the national initiatives, the local initiatives. I think HTB just earned their own post in this series!

3) NEW WINE NETWORK: Another bold claim. If revival falls upon the UK I believe the movement currently best placed to resource, administer and share it will be some of the movers and shakers within New Wine. People like Mark Bailey in Cheltenham are on the absolute cusp of something which could change a generation.

4) DETERMINATION: Evangelical Anglicans are a determined bunch. They have to be. Their willingness to not reject, but to renew, an institution like the Church of England, with all its history, merits, quirks and frustrations, is to be applauded, supported, and honoured. I actually think it is a harder calling than just starting from scratch like so many "new Churches" have.

5) ESTABLISHMENT: The continued establishment of the Church of England gives them opportunities within our nation almost unrivalled across the globe. "Hatch, Match and Dispatch" is used as a derogatory term, and yet what if by a great move of the Spirit Churches were empowered to use these connections to bring people to Christ? The constitutional postion of the Anglicans gives them opportunities we can only dream of, and challenges we can only pray we never have. We must stand with our brothers and sisters and pray God empowers them to use these opportunities for the growth of the kingdom.

Just five, I could go on. This list is personal, speculative, and may just contain enough truth to mean people think twice when being derogatory about the Anglican Church.

1 comment:

Pauline Griffiths said...

I found this very interesting as I am a member of an Evangelical Anglican church.
I had been a "churchgoer" - or was it a "seeker?" for many years but suddenly, when my children were aged 20 and 15, and I was teaching at the local Church School, I watched a footballer giving his testimony on T.V, and within weeks,I experienced a deep conviction of sin and a need to confess the times I must have grieved God so much, followed by a deep peace and a feeling of the reality of God's love. Everything dropped into place and, though it sounds like a cliche, I can honestly say it was like "seeing the light" for the first time!

I started attending a local Pentecostal Church and was baptized in their pool. The pastor often allowed people from other churches to be baptized in this pool, as long as the candidates for Baptism were genuine in their desire to follow Christ, of course.

At the time, something of a work of the Holy Spirit had hit my local church; and many of the members were receiving spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.

However, many of the older members of the congregation still wanted their Prayer Book services and traditional hymns, and we felt up against it when it came to feeling a need for change. I wondered if I should leave altogether and join the Pentecostal church.

Then one Sunday morning, during a traditional Communion service from the old prayer book, something strange happened. I suddenly realised that a lot of the prayers came straight from the Bible anyway, and it was just as if they'd "come alive" and that God was speaking to me through the words in the Prayer book. I got quite emotional and cried.

It was then I realised that God wanted me to stay at my local church.

I was also taught a gentle lesson about not judging another's faith or commitment. I had developed some "spiritual pride" and really wondered if some of our "old stalwart" men and women were truly "born-again Christians."

Then, after an evening service, I got talking to one of the ladies- and, after a few minutes, it became VERY clear to me that she was a lot more Christ-like than I was and much more mature in her faith!

Our church HAS grown; we have a great outreach to the neighbourhood through providing activities for children and parents in the local church school. We have a gifted local children's evangelist to introduce a lively service at the end.

We have a good Overseas commitee who arrange fundraising events, and we support a local children's hospice and a local "foyer" for homeless teenagers who can stay until they are helped to find work and their own accomodation.

A regular "tea and chat" has been started for people who can't get out. Transport is provided and they can join in a service then have tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits.

I feared that too many Anglican churches had become "dead" or were making too many concessions to "The World" and being in disobedience to the word of God.

Yet from my experience, I believe that individual churches in traditional denominations are still open to the work of the Spirit and are reaching out to others just as we are commanded to do.

It is wonderful to belong to a church that is growing and reaching out as The Holy Spirit prompts us. But I have also noticed that, when Christ touches our hearts, there is more to unite us than to divide us; we all begin to agree on what is really important, and I am happy to also be a member of Christ's body here on Earth, whatever label I have or whatever label my brothers and my sisters have.

It was a few years ago that a Christian friend said to me "Anyone who can say "Jesus is Lord" is my brother or my sister!" So true!