ACR JournalChurch HistoryEvangelism

Evangelism in Bathurst Diocese – Sharing Jesus for life

Through the goodness of God, combined with the kindness and service of his people, the Anglican

Diocese of Bathurst has experienced renewal in recent years. Fresh vision, boldness, and a firm grip upon

biblical preaching and teaching has spread through its churches. Evangelism has been at the forefront of the minds of its leaders and very much within the hearts of its people.

Ultimately, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to evangelism. It is simply sharing Jesus for life. Therefore, Bathurst Diocese has no new fancy technique to report. This diocese has modelled its evangelism from Scripture and has ‘just got on with it’.

The determination and drive of Bishop Mark Calder at the helm, consecrated and installed in late 2019, has given a very clear path forward which is bearing fruit in lives won for the kingdom, and the church of God is flourishing. Bishop Calder came to bring gospel change, has maintained this objective, and by the grace of God, many have joined with him in sharing Jesus for life. As I pause with others to reflect upon our evangelism, some key principles have emerged as being very significant for us.


People have been praying for this diocese for many years. As we have progressed in harness, we have been continually reminded of the importance of prayerful dependence upon God. By and large, the people of this land have filled their lives with many things other than God. Their hearts are hard. However, we have been encouraged by the knowledge that God is concerned for these people and that he can break even the hardest of hearts. We have turned to God time and again to ask him to do just that as we recognise that God is God and we are not.

While it should be and may be obvious to many that prayer is where evangelism should start, in practice it is very often dropped down the batting order. The disciples were confronted by Jesus over their prayerlessness before doing ministry when he came down the mountain after his transfiguration. When asked by the disciples why they couldn’t drive out the deaf and mute spirit, Jesus said, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer’ (Mark 9:29). Such a piercing rebuke could be equally applied to so much of ministry today, not least of all evangelism.

Knowing the priority and importance of prayer, we have sought to pray through normal means: individually, in prayer meetings and Bible studies, in church services, and at almost every diocesan gathering, of which there were many held online during the Covid era. As will be no surprise with a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit, the desire for evangelism to spread throughout a region has not been confined to just one denomination. We have also seen the denominations join together diligently for regular prayer for evangelism over the last few years, almost entirely through the aid of virtual means.


As prayers have been prayed, God has joined us with the wider body of Christ in partnership to supply what we need. Partnerships have been developed between our diocese and the Diocese of Sydney, with Bush Church Aid and all of the partner churches that such an arrangement brings, and between our churches and other churches beyond our diocese.

Prayers, encouragement, care, service, and financial support have flooded into this diocese to the point of being mind-blowing and clearly an act of God. These partnerships have been an immense blessing to this diocese that only a few years ago was on the brink of collapse.

The much-needed life-support that these partnerships have provided has quite simply, under God, enabled ministry to happen. We thank God for this and our partners as well!


Making evangelism a priority has been very much the order of the day. For many years in our diocese there has been a theoretical prioritising of evangelism, but like in many of our lives, it has not been a functional priority. In other words, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!

Steadily, we have seen that evangelism has not only been prioritised theoretically but also functionally. This has been aided in large measure by the evangelistic edge that has come through the widespread preaching of Bishop Calder, boosted by the use of electronic media, and by his constant bringing to our remembrance the importance of sharing Jesus for life.

Prioritising evangelism was further formalised by the launch of the Strategic Plan for the diocese in July 2022, not least of all comprising the Mission Statement, ‘Sharing Jesus For Life’. This two-page Strategic Plan presented many evangelistic options for parishes to consider for their local context. Some parishes are well under way with implementing their local strategy. In 2024, we hope to see an acceleration of parish investment in their strategy, aided in part by the appointment of a Strategic Planning Facilitator and Task Force to support them so that we can ensure that each parish is as effective as possible in making small steps in the right direction to share Jesus for life.


There can be no mistaking that one of the greatest inroads in reaching people for Jesus has been through the gracious provision of gospel-hearted and skilled under-shepherds who are keen to share Jesus for life from the Bible. The raising up of these ministers has coincided with the prayers of thousands and the keen focus of a bishop passionate to see church growth. Numerous trips to preach and speak at theological and Bible colleges on the eastern seaboard have been combined with energetic advertising through social media, leading to the appointment of 14 new ministers in lay or ordained ministries.

The contribution that a parish minister makes in the tone that is set and in the equipping of the saints has an untold impact upon any church. Through such new appointments, church members have become clearer on the gospel, been strengthened in their resolve to share Jesus, and have been provided with an increasing number of avenues to do so.


Clear, simple, and concise preaching that isn’t boring has been strongly encouraged so that we can be as effective as possible in reaching a world with other priorities. This type of preaching has not only brought refreshment to churches but also been used to bring the gospel to the unreached.

For instance, our bishop’s sermons, recorded weekly on YouTube since his appointment, have been only one click of a mouse away from an unbeliever. Church members have never had an on-ramp to evangelism easier than sending an email to loved ones, friends, or acquaintances with a link to these sermons. I can well imagine God’s Word reaching farflung properties with temperamental satellite connections in locations that perhaps no minister or Christian has ever visited, thanks to modern technology.

Pursuit of Pathways New and Old

‘Out with the old and in with the new’, in terms of evangelistic programmes, has definitely not been the air we have breathed. Both new and old pathways for evangelism have been encouraged, explored, and developed.

Modern church services have perhaps been the primary new avenue for evangelism throughout the diocese. Among the parishes of the newly appointed ministers, most would have a modern service or be moving quickly in that direction. In some of these modern services, we have seen significant church growth! The prevailing attitude has been to give anything a go that is godly and could possibly reach people for Jesus—an attitude that has been enlivening for many. Older evangelistic pathways, in the sense of having been tried and tested over many years, have not been discarded. Such pathways as church services, evangelistic services, ‘introducing people to Jesus’ courses, door knocking, play groups, kids’ clubs, children’s and youth missions, op shops, and social events like trivia nights and bonfire nights have been rejuvenated and will continue to be well used.


The principles mentioned above will come as no surprise as being essential or very important ingredients for effective evangelism. By the grace of God, they have been a staple of evangelism in recent years in this diocese. We hope that these principles will always be present and not become extinct in the ministry of sharing Jesus for life in this diocese.

Should you be inspired to want to join with us in prayer, that would be fantastic! Or perhaps you are moved to want to team up with us and are keen to come and love God’s people, share his word, and reach out to the lost. Maybe you are keen to formulate a parish partnership, fund a minister, or even send a minister! Whatever your situation, we would love to hear from you! Archdeacon Andrew Thornhill welcomes an email from you at