Leading Evangelical praises Catholic evangelism

A leading evangelical Anglican says that Pope Francis’ 2014 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is central his current thinking, and that if every English Christian put the document into practice both Church and nation would be transformed.

Rev. Nicky Gumbel, vicar at Holy Trinity Brompton and developer of the globally influential Alpha Course, told a gathering of nearly 900 Catholic clergy and laity at the Proclaim 15 conference in Birmingham: “I love the Catholic Church – she is leading the way in evangelisation.”

Insisting that “we need to reach the lapsed, and help them to understand what Christian faith is really about at its heart,” Rev. Gumbel said Church leaders must be close to people both inside and outside the Church, and argued that warm welcomes and small groups were vital in reaching the unchurched and lapsed. Above all, he said, Christians should evangelise according to their individual talents. 

Among those present at the conference was Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who launched a plan to turn 5,000 churches into “missionary parishes”, urging them to set up evangelisation teams.

“Evangelisation,” he explained, “is essentially an invitation, and it is an invitation which will draw people closer together in their humanity, in their human experience.” Dismissing “door-step evangelisation” as something that is impossible without a relationship, the cardinal said “what we want is to do is show something of our own life and to let that speak for itself”.

The formal invitation to establish evangelisation teams was made at the National Catholic Evangelization Conference in Birmingham July 11.