The Anglican church in the UK is making great strides to equip whole-life disciples. The Diocese of London is working to equip and commission 100,000 people to live as ambassadors for Christ in daily life. That number means that every person who is a part of their churches across the city will be commissioned. They are encouraged to pray, grow as a disciple, connect with people around them and live as salt and light in every area of life. Their vision is for every Christian in London to seek to live out their calling, right where they are.
Debbie Clinton Interview
Capitol Vision Manager, Diocese of London
Chris: Tell me a little about your role.
Debbie: I work for the Anglican Diocese of London as the Capitol Vision Manager. This involves strategy in the church between now and 2020. Since 2012 I’ve been helping churches to take the vision forward.
Chris: What are you’re hopes for this campaign?
Debbie: I have three big hopes. Helping people become more confident in living and speaking the gospel, more compassionate in serving communities, and more creative in reaching new people and places. My hope is that every church across the diocese will engage in these concepts in a meaningful way by 2020.
Chris: The London Diocese has a vision of reaching, equipping and commissioning a hundred thousand ambassadors for Christ. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Debbie: We created this vision through conversations with people around the diocese, asking them what they think is important for the church in London in coming years. And one thing that came out really powerfully was the need for Christians to be more confident in living and speaking the gospel. The most powerful thing we can do for London is just to equip people to live out their faith where they are already, where God has already placed them. And from that came this vision for ambassadors for Christ, commissioned and reaching people where they already are. The hundred thousand is because there are seventy thousand people in our churches currently, between adults and our young people. We want to commission them as ambassadors to London, a global and transient city. So we hope by 2020, people who are commissioned as ambassadors will be across London and across the globe witnessing about Jesus.
Chris: Two or three years into this process, what have you learned so far?
Debbie: The key thing we have learned is this needs to be as local as possible. The primary place where people will be equipped is in their local church. We might run some big events for ambassadors and big commissioning events, but we’ll always try and encourage people to understand that the local church is where you need to be equipped, where you find people to encourage you, pray for you, and where you actually you should be commissioned. And your local church should be sending you out to the mission field each week.
Chris: Have you run into any challenges or difficulties in implementing this?
Debbie: One of the difficulties is that not everybody ‘gets it.’ They ask, why would we want to commission people as ambassadors? Why do we need to do that? Some people might see it associated with a particular tradition, or that it’s particularly evangelical. I have churches from a wide range of traditions and some people think it’s just another project. These are things we’ve got to work through.
Chris: What have been some of the encouraging signs.
Debbie: There’s been real encouragement. We had a group of nine pilot churches all of whom decided themselves they wanted to be part of a learning community looking at how a church might take this forward in a really intentional way. And they’ve been encouraging because they have stories from their context. These are different churches, and they take forward the idea of whole life discipleship slightly differently but all with the same aiming point. They want people to be equipped to live and speak the gospel where they are.
Chris: Do you have a story from one of the pilot churches?
Debbie: I asked a layperson who came to one of our initial workshops, what he did during the week. And he said that he sees about twenty thousand people every day. Turns out he works at one of the busiest subway stations in London, and he talked about what it meant to take his faith to work. Things like, remembering psalms in his head or how people would leave presents for him because how well he did his job. It’s little nuggets like that, what it means to individuals to take their faith into their every day life. When these stories get shared with other people, and it makes what they have already done much more meaningful and gives them a sense of mission.
Chris: For those who might be considering a similar vision, what would you say to those people?
Debbie: I think the key for us is the vision being locally driven, not just being a thing we just say we are doing, but the thing that actually happens. It’s working with the church community, with each individual leader and equipping them. If we want to commission a hundred thousand ambassadors it has to be a collective of people working their faith locally. If we make it too top down then it will fail for all kinds of reasons.