Previously I have referred to an impressive and detailed survey of faith in our land. Our Anglican Taonga offers a report on it here.
Being evangelistic anywhere in the world today is challenging but for those of us living here (called the Shaky Isles today because there has been yet another significant earthquake, widely felt) we must embrace the specific challenges of our cultural contexts.
As a sign of the challenge, yesterday we had further confirmation that our representative parliament has no particular collective allegiance to Christianity as it was confirmed that "Jesus Christ" would disappear from the daily prayer which begins parliamentary sessions.
Is there "good news" in the report? Yes. I cite the Taonga reflection:
"The survey findings confirmed that the most effective form of evangelism in Aotearoa today comes from Christians who demonstrate Christian actions first, before sharing their faith in words.
59% of New Zealanders filling out the survey thought they would most likely be influenced to investigate faith by seeing others live out their faith. And if that faith was lived out while caring for people suffering from a personal trauma or life change, the impact of that Christian love and care went up. The survey also found that 54% of Kiwis were open to changing their religious views or exploring other beliefs."
The onus, in our practical Kiwi culture, is on people seeing our good works and glorifying our Father who is in heaven!
Being evangelical in ACANZP is, I think, measurably more challenging as we are now at the end of October 2018. Locally that means that from tomorrow, five new evangelical congregations will have been formed from Anglican parishes in the Diocese of Christchurch. I understand that in December, two more congregations will be added, and through these works an eighth is emerging and establishing itself. All of which means there are evangelical Anglicans who believe they must of necessity be evangelical and Anglican outside of the historical, well-established Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The move to disaffiliate is driven - if I may say so - by evangelical convictions more than Anglican convictions.
In turn, that raises a question for evangelicals who remain in ACANZP. Are we now somewhat less than evangelical? Have we blunted the edge of our evangelical convictions in order to remain secure in our familiar environments?
Cue attention to a letter a group of evangelical Anglican bishops has written to GAFCON - bishops in the Church of England taking up a GAFCON challenge to explain what it means to be "faithful Anglicans".
I like what they say.
While not every phrase would be adopted by me (because some phrases are specific to the experience of being evangelical in the Church of England), I agree with much of what the letter says. In particular, the Jerusalem Declaration is a document I have never been happy about as a statement of Anglican conviction which somehow ought to be easy for "any evangelical" to sign; the affirmation of the Communion Partner bishops within TEC is welcome; and their commitment to a specific mission within the CofE is encouraging.
As an evangelical Anglican about to become a bishop, I am encouraged by this letter.