The Ministry Frontline
The life of a Church Army Evangelist is one of being led by God into new areas of pioneering ministry, actively searching for opportunities to tell people about Jesus, and adapting to needs as they arise. Suzette Maguire has been part of Church Army for over 20 years and during her time as an evangelist, Suzette has made it her goal to seek God’s Kingdom before all else.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Before Church Army
I was confirmed in my home parish of Sheffield Manor in 1991. In 1993 I moved to Maidenhead, Berkshire, to work as a newly trained NNEB nursery nurse, in a nursery class in an infant school. While living and working in Maidenhead I completed three summer mission trips abroad with an organisation called International Teams. During the first of these mission trips to Croatia I felt the call to ‘accept God’s challenge’ and look at what else He was calling me to. This led
me to Church Army in 1997. After the selection process, I began training in 1998.
Life as a Commissioned Evangelist
I was admitted and commissioned as a Church Army Evangelist in July 2001. My first post was in the Parish of Sheffield Manor, then a parish of four churches, including St. Aidan’s. The new role of ‘Team Evangelist’ grew into a lot of family
and children’s work, including links with two primary schools, training up a team to work on all age services, and very close work with baptism families. Eventually I set up ‘Manna Munchers’, weekly church for under 5’s and their carers. In 2010, my husband David, who is also a Church Army Evangelist, and I were both appointed to the post of Lead Evangelist for the Newcastle Centre of Mission. We worked as community ministers in a coffee shop setup by the local church. We set up a coffee shop called Coffee Plus, and we also ran groups like: Knit & Natter; book groups; ‘Chill-out zone’; and a Christian discussion evening called ‘Table’.
In 2015 David and I were job-sharing again, this time as Pioneer Ministers in St. Alban’s Diocese, working specifically on new estates to the west of Bedford. This was very hard going, as the population of the new estates proved to be fluid, making it difficult to build long-term relationships.
Where are you now?
In November 2019, we moved to Solihull, where I am Pioneer Minister to Solihull Parish. My focus is on those with no, or very little church connection; to discern points of need within the community and to explore creative and innovative ways in which to ensure a “church” presence within the community and at existing community events. I am also looking ahead to establish new forms and expressions of church and form new Christian communities, which will enable people who feel unable to connect with existing styles of worship to be able to meet with God.
I am also working to encourage a passion for mission, establish teams to work with me and grow new pioneer leaders; to work with the current parish leadership team and identify further ministerial opportunities and to work with Christians to deepen their discipleship.
Ministry and The Pandemic
Less than four months into post we were hit by COVID and so much shut down. I did a lot of prayer-walking during this time, chatting with people as I met them in the streets. This allowed me to notice the mood of the area around me.
I sensed there was a need for somewhere to ‘be’, to connect, and to look to their own welfares, so we started Wellbeing Wednesdays which began in May 2021, and has met every Wednesday since then. The group is both male and female,
and everyone is very supportive to one another. We set up Wellbeing Wednesday in conjunction with the Kitchen coffee shop, which opened in July 2020 as the first lockdown was coming to an end.
As relationships began to grow at Wellbeing Wednesday, I began to run an occasional ‘Pause’: a quiet morning or afternoon for both non-Christians and Christians. Two of the Wednesday group who are non-Christians have come along and experienced ‘Pause’ so far.
My biggest joy in ministry is seeing an individual grow in their faith journey, whether that be a Christian finding a new revelation that they hadn’t seen before, or a non-Christian beginning to realise for the first time that they are loved.
Being alongside people as they take these steps though sometimes baby steps – is a privilege.
In Pioneering ministry there can be a demand for results almost straight away. Time and time again I come back to the verse from Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. It’s a clear reminder to me that only God is God, and I should seek His Kingdom before all else.
Pray for Suzette as she continues to reach out to those in Solihull who do not yet know Jesus. Pray also for her husband, David, as he seeks what the Lord has next for him.I want to pray for the Church Army Mission Community