Strategies and policies for growth put forward by Church leaders will remain ‘heady aspirations’ without the commitment and contribution of individuals at all levels of church life, the Archbishop of Wales warned today (Sept 12).
In his keynote speech to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Archbishop John Davies said spreading the story of the Gospel message is the Church’s core business and everyone had a contribution to make, whether they saw themselves in that story as ‘bit-part players’ or as main characters.
He encouraged church-goers not to underestimate the gifts and resources they had but to offer them freely in the service of Christ.
The Archbishop, who is President of the Governing Body, said, “The Bishops may articulate particular visions and seek with others to develop policies and strategies, but these will remain mere plans, heady aspirations, unless individual potential to contribute to the overall evangelistic task is encouraged, recognised and affirmed.”
He added, “In our churches and communities there may be many who feel like bit-part players, who feel they can’t contribute much, if anything at all, to the story of our church or the good of wider society. They may feel that they lack talent, gifts or resources; they may feel too old, too inexperienced, too anything! But around us there are wonderful stories of people who may have felt just so, but who, with some encouragement, the right question being asked, have engaged with some local activity that has seen a project blossom and flourish.”
The Archbishop acknowledged that there were challenges ahead. He said, “The challenges facing both church and society today are significant, even daunting, and the resources may appear to be meagre, completely inadequate in fact; but placed in the hands of Jesus by willing participants the situation is turned around and the challenge overcome. Others, doing what Jesus tells them to do, all play their small part in the whole story being fulfilled.”
He reminded members that the Church was well resourced and that miracles could happen when those resources were offered generously to others.
“Our Church, as I have affirmed in the past, isn’t possessed of meagre resources but of significant ones, human, material and financial. We also have the resource, much envied by some, of a presence in every community across our nation.”
Referring to the familiar biblical account of the miraculous feeding of the crowds, the Archbishop said, “These resources are our five loaves and two small fish, and our calling is not simply to keep them for ourselves, but to offer them, to use them in telling the story and singing the song, and by doing so, to feed the spiritually hungry, and help to carry the people with beaten-up lives.
“Achieving this means listening to the instructions of Jesus as to how resources must be used. This really matters; trusting that he can use what we have, what can be offered, and trusting each other as the innkeeper trusted the Samaritan is essential. And the potential found in offering our resources and playing our part, any part, small or large, in unfolding the story and purposes of the Kingdom must never to be underestimated.”
The Archbishop was speaking at the start of the two-day meeting of the Governing Body at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter. You can see the agenda of the meeting at https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/governing-body/meetings/12-13-sept-2018/
The full text of the Archbishop’s Presidential address can be read after delivery at 10.30am on Wednesday September 12 at www.churchinwales.org.uk