53 ‘Ambassadors for Christ’ Commissioned

Yesterday was an amazing day at St John’s Church in Hoxton. In addition to celebrating the baptism and confirmation of nine members of our congregations, a further 53 members were commissioned as ‘Ambassadors for Christ’ by Rt Revd Adrian Newman, the Bishop of Stepney. Each of them completed ‘Commitment Cards’ and processed forward to put them in a basket held by the bishop.

How did this all come about?

Well, St John’s Church is part of the Diocese of London – the Anglican church spread across the city north of the river Thames. The Diocese of London has a ‘Mission Action Plan’ called Capital Vision 2020 – it’s a set of strategic goals over the next 6 years.

One of the objectives is to commission 100,000 ‘Ambassadors for Christ’ in daily life. This vision comes from a verse in the bible which says: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

At first it all seemed a little vague – after all, 100,000 is a lot of people, and what does it really mean to be an ambassador? But as we thought about it more, we realised that this really is what our Christian discipleship is all about – living out our faith in daily life, and not just about gathering on a Sunday morning.

We spent the first six months of this year thinking about practical discipleship through our sermon series, our lent retreat, and our midweek connect groups. We held special seminars to think about how we do mission, and what that really means.

The result of all this was that we came up with a statement and 4 simple pledges that members of our church could take as a way of committing themselves to living out their faith in daily life:

“As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am sent out to live and work for His praise and glory. As I live out my Christian discipleship among the people and places of the week, I commit to:

1. Pray for seven people by name: that I may have an opportunity to share my faith with them.
2. Live as salt and light in my workplace, school / college and local community: so that people will know I’m a follower of Jesus.
3. Commit to participating in my church: through prayer, bible study, fellowship and service.
4. Develop my understanding of my Christian faith: so that I can explain in words the hope that is within me.”

We wanted to find a way that this could be easily remembered by people – so that they’d have a reminder of what they’ve undertaken. We also wanted to find a way that people could symbolically make these commitments.

With the amazing design skills of Bethan Mitchell, a member of our church, we came up with a ‘Commitment Card’ which could be split in half – one half handed in during a service as a mark of commitment; and the other half to be taken away and kept on the fridge, or pinned to the front door, or stuck to the bathroom mirror – as a daily reminder of our call.

The cards that have been handed in all have an email address on them, so that we can email out regular encouragements, and also inform the ‘Ambassadors’ of future training events. We’re also sending each of them a prayer bookmark, on which they can write names of those for whom they will commit to pray. We’re looking into getting a simple ‘Ambassador’ badge made as well.

We usually hold three baptism services per year, around Easter, Petertide and All Saints, and it’s our intention to always provide an opportunity for people to be commissioned as Ambassadors at each of these services – it seems a great way to tie together our baptism and our response to follow Jesus’ call on our lives.

I hope that over the next six years, we’ll see a significant number of our congregation responding to this call, and as a consequence, see an increase in active witness to God’s love and saving work throughout our neighbourhood and our city.