The new general director of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK has joined other church leaders in calling on Christians to demonstrate the meaning and importance of the Gospel through example.
Steve Clifford gave his first major address as EA chief on Easter Sunday in Bradford Anglican Cathedral.
“It is wonderfully encouraging to see how the Church of Jesus Christ is finding fresh confidence, as we position ourselves in the heart of our communities and as we demonstrate the Gospel through our being good news as well as talking good news,” said the former chair of Hope 08.
He urged Christians to match their words with actions and be 'good news' for those around them.
The message echoed those of Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, outgoing Catholic Archbishop of Westminster - who said that Christians should live out their message rather than trying to force it on society.
Mr Clifford's parents met and were married at Bradford Cathedral where his father was ordained as a priest, so the venue had strong personal as well as symbolic meaning.
The EA head offered a message of hope as he reflected on the difficulties his family had faced when his father had died when he was only five years old.
“This little ‘Clifford’ story is part of a far bigger story which is the story of God’s involvement with humanity,” he declared. “God hasn’t abandoned us and is able to draw a bigger circle out of even some of the most tragic events of life."
“Our stories and God’s stories merge as we allow ourselves to be caught up in [God's] purposes and look for the out-working of God's will in our lives,” he added.
The Anglican Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, was joined by Clifford’s mother and son in praying him into his new role at the end of the service.
Joel Edwards, his predecessor, who stepped down last year after more than 10 years at the Evangelical Alliance's helm, is focusing on new role as international director of Micah Challenge, a movement of Christians lobbying their governments to fulfil the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.