By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles
Being Gripped by a Compelling Vision
People give when they understand why they are giving and what they are giving for; when they believe in the vision and wish to invest in it to help achieve it.
People are not inspired to give if it is simply to pay parish share, repair a leaky roof or pay a heating bill. When the glory and scope of the gospel is displayed before them and when they understand that the life and ministry of the local church to which they belong is part of that great mission then they understand why giving is important.
We do not give to keep things ticking over or to balance the books, but because Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost; because he is building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; because the gospel brings people from darkness to light, rescues people from the kingdom of Satan to God’s eternal and glorious kingdom, saves people from God’s eternal wrath and brings them into the future glory of a renewed creation in which God will dwell with his people and in which there will be no more sorrow, suffering, sin or death.
Each local church needs to understand, proclaim and explain a Gospel- driven vision, but so too does the denomination. A vision for reaching the nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ, an acute awareness that this a matter of life and death – eternal life and eternal death – and a profound awareness that this is something that is worth investing our lives in wholeheartedly.
When ministers are convinced that the gospel is true, glorious and urgent, then they are also unashamed to teach, communicate and challenge congregations on the importance of giving and of giving sacrificially.
There is potential for massive increase in giving in the Church of England and the degree to which it will be unlocked is the degree to which the gospel of grace penetrates our hearts and lives, and to which we catch the vision of our Lord Jesus Christ who is at work building his Church and seeking and saving the Lost.
The Need for More Labourers
The urgent need of the hour in the Church of England is for more – many, many more – people to be ordained as full-time ministers of the gospel.
Jackson again, “It would take a large influx of new clergy even to halt the projected decline in numbers. There were 256 stipendiary ordinations in 2012 and the total number of stipendiary clergy is forecast to go down by about 100 a year. So ordinations would need to rise to about 350 to bring that decline to a halt.”71
We need at least a 100 a year more Ordinands. A 100 a year of Gospel- driven, bible-believing ordinands over 10 years would bring a 1000 more ministers of the gospel into the denomination and would make a significant impact.
Is that a ludicrously far-fetched ideal? Surely not.
Jesus commands us to pray earnestly for more labourers, he makes it clear this is a vital priority so we ought to make it so.
At a conservative estimate there are at least 250 conservative evangelical incumbents in the Church of England at this present time, but it in all likelihood, that number could be more like 300-400.
If every local church with a clear gospel ministry made it a focussed, prayerful, specific goal to send forward for ordination at least 2 ordinands over 10 years we would be well over half-way there, 3 over 10 years would bring us a 1000 or very near that number.
That is not an impossible dream.
The work of church revitalisation can be arduous and slow; an evangelical who takes on a church that has not had an evangelical ministry will need great patience, courage and perseverance. It may well be for the first few years there is little visible fruit and the changes that are implemented may need to be slow and gradual, but the work of raising up and sending gospel — workers into the harvest field can begin instantly and be taking place no matter how fast or slow the revitalisation process is taking. More established churches could be even more fruitful in this work.
More workers in the vineyard are needed, they are there and so is the finance. We need to pursue this with purpose, intent and prayerfulness.
Furthermore, in time a large number such as this will inevitably begin to impact and change the denomination. As water finds its own level an increasing number of Gospel-driven, bible-believing ministers cannot but begin to surface in all areas of the denomination’s life enabling there to be real renewal and reformation, not moving the denomination in an alien direction but reclaiming the denomination in line with its historic faith.
Excerpted with permission from Gospel-Driven Anglicanism by the Revd Dr Mark Pickles, pages 100-101, 2017.