“Most people I know would rather take their eye out with a spoon than talk about their faith.”
Are you nodding in agreement? This strong statement about evangelism was addressed to none other than Archbishop Justin from the nave of Wells Cathedral in a question and answer session during his visit to Bath and Wells in 2016.
Pioneer and Evangelism Team Leader, Tina Hodgett puts it another way, “Church congregations and Christians we meet across the diocese every day are conscious of the need to share the story of Jesus and of their own faith with those around them, but they know they lack both the confidence and the tools to tell the good news in an easy and natural way with family and friends.”
Now parishes can call on Faith Sharing Enabler, Revd Andy Gray to help them do just that.
Andy’s role is to encourage and enable individual churchgoers, congregations, lay ministers, clergy, parishes and deaneries to grow in confidence in telling their faith story; to help them become relaxed evangelists.
Andy is fulfilling the evangelism aspect of Tina’s role as she focuses on leading the £5m Pioneer Project. The innovative project aims to build a grass roots movement of pioneering activity across Somerset and funding for a lead person to deliver on this bold aspiration was included in the project bid.
Andy joins the diocese from Lancashire where he was born and where, after numerous moves with his family, he returned to begin ordained pioneer minister training. It’s where he was put forward by the Diocese of Blackburn for ordination with a particular call to pioneer ministry when “fighting a call to ordination had gone on long enough.”
Seven years ago, Andy started his curacy in Clitheroe where he established a fresh expression of church serving those with additional needs, in particular those with hidden disabilities like autism. Andy is no stranger to sharing his faith: As a teenager he was on beach mission teams, at 18 he joined the Church Army gap year on the southern Faith Sharing Team. And he has continued to share his faith in a variety of places for the past 30 as part of youth and children’s ministry, and establishing new congregations.
Andy’s role is three days a week and for the rest of the time he is a children’s book illustrator. It’s a passion and source of income through which he supports his wife and two young sons and meant he could follow God’s call to Somerset. “It’s a risk and we are trusting God daily. But where there is a risk there is a testimony; and where there is testimony a story can be told and faith can be shared.”
“Social media, my art, clowning, music, cycling, and most especially natural friendships…anything that brings me in to contact with others inevitably leads me back to sharing faith. I encourage others to share their day-to-day story of faith with others in their passions and interests. Find a passion, share it with others, share faith along the way.”
If you would like to start a conversation about how to encourage confident Christians in your setting, please get in touch with Andy by email or on 01749 670777.