Mandy joins the diocese as Outreach Enablement Officer
Mandy Bayton has been appointed as Outreach Enablement Officer for the diocese. Here, Mandy explains more about the role and the impact it will have on the Church.
It’s such a privilege to be in a role such as this, at such a time as this.
Initially my role is focusing on preparing the diocese’s bid to the Evangelism Fund but I’m hoping that my role will have a longer lasting impact by helping the Church, where it has perhaps become displaced, become the heart of the community again. I hope that I can be a support to both laity and clergy in helping build relationships with their communities. I also would love to help nurture a culture of all-member ministry, so that the Church as a whole could grow in confidence in reaching out to our communities, sharing stories about faith and talking about Jesus easily and naturally.
What is the church doing right and what opportunities are there to improve on that?
When I was working on the diocese Community Audit, I had the privilege of meeting with clergy and laity across Swansea and Brecon and I saw first-hand the Church in action. I was greatly encouraged by what is being done.
The Church is getting so many things right, not just in our services and meetings but by practically serving our communities through lots of different projects from coffee shops to foodbanks to providing baby basics and so much more. We are making a positive difference and that is extremely reassuring.
During the past few months when life has been so uncertain, the Church has adapted and embraced this different world we all find ourselves in but it has also remained steadfast, faithful and secure, proving that we are always there and will always be there no matter what. That is an enormous comfort to so many.
Perhaps where we are a little weak, however, is sharing our faith with those we’re in contact with. We’ve got the projects right, we’re doing the stuff that Jesus would want us to do, serving those experiencing poverty, providing for those who are struggling etc but we’re not so good at talking about Him.
Our hearts are to serve people, that is wonderfully obvious, but ultimately we know that the love Jesus has for people and becoming Christ followers and disciples is what can transform lives. So, I think it would be great if we were a little more confident in talking about Jesus, our faith and inviting people to our Church meetings etc where and when appropriate.
What are your inspirations/experiences that you will/are hoping to bring?
I’m particularly inspired by the story of the women at the well found in John chapter 4. I love all of that story but the part that inspires me the most is when the woman rushes back to her village telling everyone to “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And then the villagers went to see Jesus for themselves.
The story goes onto say that “Many of the Samaritans from the woman’s village committed themselves to Jesus that day because the woman had told them “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!”
This story is so important to me for many reasons; first I love the inclusivity aspect of it. In Jesus’ time the Jews and Samaritans despised each other, they wouldn’t even sit somewhere where one of them sat. I am hoping that my role can encourage more inclusivity and diversity. For a long time, I was a single parent and I often didn’t get included because I was single. I also didn’t have a lot of spare money so my children and I couldn’t always afford to take part in activities. I know what it’s like to be on the margins and to feel excluded, those experiences have made me more aware of those who don’t quite fit and encouraged me to ensure that when the church says “come as you are, you are welcome, you belong here and you are included” – that we really mean it.
Second, this part of the story makes me want to cry because I think it’s so beautiful. I believe Jesus made the woman feel known and not only known, but I believe she must have felt accepted and not judged. Who she was, what she had done was of no consequence to Jesus, he wanted her to know Him and His grace included her. He made her feel listened to and of value. For me, that’s what we as Christians need to be talking about to others. We need to be telling people how Jesus makes us feel, what He has done for us and how much He loves us, despite our life experiences.
Third, it was the power of the woman’s story that caused many of her people to become followers of Jesus. It wasn’t a fantastic sermon, it wasn’t a massive evangelistic event, it was a damaged woman who had made mistakes, telling people what had happened to her that made others want to meet Jesus for themselves.
The inspiration that I’d like to pass onto our Church communities in Swansea and Brecon is if the woman at the well can do it, if someone like me can do it, then anyone can do it.
What can people do to get involved?
Our diocesan vision is to be a family rooted in Christ, committed to transforming lives by gathering God’s people, growing more like Jesus and going out in the power of the Spirit to make disciples of others. It would be wonderful if each person in the Church in Swansea and Brecon realised that they have a part to play in fulfilling this vision. If anyone would like to chat to me about what that could look like then I would love to help.
It would also be really encouraging and helpful to hear from those people who are doing the evangelistic stuff at grassroots levels e.g. did you talk to your friend about Jesus and they came to Church, or your colleague, or you picked up a prescription for a neighbour and you offered to pray for them. It would be so good to hear people’s stories and be able to share them with others.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you.
And finally, I would love it if people could pray for me; to pray that I’m sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to the people of this wonderful diocese and that God’s Kingdom comes and His will is done in Swansea and Brecon.