5marks

5 Marks of Mission

I am at an ecumenical gathering in Turku, Finland and listening to a paper on Anglican approaches to mission and unity. As I listen to this paper by Martin Davie. I realise I have never really engaged with the Anglican 5 Marks of Mission. Here they are, what do you make of them?

The fact that Anglicans see mission as involving more than simply evangelism can be seen in the ‘Five Marks of Mission,’ produced by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1990. These are the closest thing there is to an official Anglican definition of mission and they declare that the mission of the Church is and they say that mission means:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform the unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.[1]

Pros:

  1. The integration of evangelism and social transformation.
  2. The balance between mercy ministry and political and structural change.
  3. The inclusion of environmental concern.
  4. The holding together of all five of these aspects is underlined – especially as evangelism is increasingly being marginalised in some churches.
  5. As a baptist love the inclusion of “baptism of new believers”

Cons:

I guess I don’t have any problems with what is included in this five marks and I understand that the bullet point titles cannot possible express all the nuance of the missiological assumptions. So these are my initial reactions to the headlines.
1. Interesting that Jesus doesn’t get a mention – nor God the father nor the Spirit.
2. Interesting that the church doesn’t get a look in either – particularly if…. “the Church is both the fruit of God’s mission.. and the agent of his mission.” Mission Shaped Church
3. “Proclaim” is an interesting choice of words -as in “Proclaim the good news” – the word “communicate” would have emphasised being understood without incurring the stigma/ assumption of one way monological declarations.
4. Strange that as the church is missing baptism gets a mention but not eucharist?
5. Not sure “safe guard” is as strong an approach to creational care and engagement as the book of Genesis would imply. It seems a bit defeatist. The cultural mandate has room for creativity and research – for “making culture” as Andy Crouch would say – there’s not a lot of room for Art, Beauty, Music etc. Which I still view as part of the mission of God’s people.
So what do you think?


[1] Mission in a Broken World – Report of ACC 8 Wales 1990, London: Anglican Consultative Council ,1990,

p101.

10 thoughts on “5 Marks of Mission”

  1. The Methodist Church has a similar rationale, but in 9 marks:
    * telling the good news of Jesus Christ
    * Calling people to faith in Jeaus Christ and Christian discipleship
    * Caring for individual people and communities
    * Sharing in the task of education, and social and spiritual development
    * struggling for a just world
    * Being alongside the poor
    * Becoming friends with people of different cultures and faiths
    * Caring for the earth
    * Building partnerships with other churches and groups who share some of our mission aims

  2. So glad you are in Finland Krish, hope you can get some sleep with all the light. My mother is from there you see…

    I am also glad you posted these. For my money they are oh such a far step in the right direction.

    I wander if the cons you lay out are shaped by the fact that they where written in the 90s?

  3. Hi Krish,

    re your ‘cons’

    1. [Jesus doesn’t get a mention – nor God the father nor the Spirit.] but I’m fairly sure they get a lot of space in the context, in Mission Shaped Church. The marks of mission are clearly defined as his mission. But do see the five values for missionary churches for Mission Shaped Church, below.

    2. [Interesting that the church doesn’t get a look in either] unless you see teaching, baptising and nurturing new believers as rather like church – plus making it about church makes it inward-looking not missional. The church is implicit here, especially in context. See the five values for missionary churches, below.

    4. [Strange that as the church is missing baptism gets a mention but not eucharist?] baptism gets a mention in the missional Great Commission. eucharist is more ministry than mission.

    Thanks for this reflection, Krish. I’ve found the five marks helpful. But I’ve also found helpful the MSC characteristics of missional churches/Christians as a counterpoint/balance. You might find them a helpful context:

    A missionary church is focussed on God the Holy Trinity – worship lies at its heart.
    A missionary church is relational – welcoming and providing hospitality, open to change.
    A missionary church is incarnational – shaping itself to the local culture.
    A missionary church makes disciples – calling people to faith, encouraging gifts, transforming individuals.
    A missionary church is transformational – existing for the transformation of the local church and community.

    They might alleviate some of your concerns…?

  4. Just a couple of comments about the cons. (My initial reactions to your initial reactions, if you will)
    1. While God doesn’t get a mention explicitly, the ‘Kingdom’ gets one, which implies (requires!) a King. Equally, the fact that reference is made to new believers reminds us that belief is in someone.
    2. The fact that the church doesn’t get a look in is surely a reflection of the fact that this document outlines the mission of the church. Who’s doing the five points if not the church? Each of the five points could equally start with ‘The Church is…’, which I would have thought was the point of the Council.
    3. I think, as someone else has mentioned, this may be something that would be worded differently if written today. Having said that, the ‘proclaim’ bit is only one of five points of mission. The other points perhaps imply more of a ‘communication’ both relationally and through actions generally. Jesus certainly proclaimed, but that wasn’t all he did.
    4. I would have thought Eucharist itself is not necessarily a part of mission, though the story behind it is obviously pivotal. I would have thought that Eucharist, along with other aspects of church life, would fit into the second point, being more in the ‘follow-up’ bracket than the mission itself (sorry, I’ve worded that badly)
    5. Again, maybe this is a sign-of-the-times sort of thing. I’m not sure that 22 years ago people were as aware of creation care (though I know many Christian groups have had it on the agenda for a long time). Though I agree that, as it stands, it does appear to be a little lacking. It seems a bit like saying I’ll safeguard my children (which is obviously a vital role of the parent) but not going further to say that I will nurture them and help them to blossom.

    Would they be fair responses to your responses? Some of them sound a little critical, which wasn’t the intent at all, but my brain’s not functioning on lack of sleep very well (something about nurturing children at all hours!)

  5. i think that the wording should probably be different –
    i would like a stronger emphasis on breaking injustice and God’s intrinsic invovlement.
    i also dont understand why its just ‘new’ believers – im of the opinion that we all need a little nurture along the way!

  6. Hi Krish,

    Interesting post and I thank you for sharing.

    As a trainee Anglican Priest currently hauled up in Theological College and plodding my way through the various portfolios I have to complete, I thought I would use this as a good distraction from my work, for a little while.

    Addressing the Cons:

    1) I think Jesus is mentioned, although I agree not explicitly in name. To any Anglican ‘Good News’ is synonymous with Jesus, you cannot have the ‘Good News’ without him, similar with the Father and Holy Spirit too. They are so interweaved into that ‘Good News’ that they are represented in that phrase – also, I believe that the 5 Marks of Mission are attempting to adhere to the commands of Christ. He commanded the proclamation of the Gospel in all nations (probably also why we use the word Proclaim, rather than communicate or other such style)

    2) The church, I think, does get a look in on the second point. The nurturing of new believers is the business of the church. It is in the church community that Anglicans feel people are nurtured and thus saying that one of the marks is to nurture and to baptise is one of the actions of the church.

    3) Proclaim – addressed in point 1)

    4) Baptism is linked in with the mission that Christ gave to his early followers in the command to go forth into the nations. I would suggest that is why that is there, it is also the point of entry into the community of the church and then allows further nurturing, Part of that further nurturing and understanding may well lead (and usually does) to Eucharistic involvement. For someone at the more Anglo-Catholic end of the spectrum with a high value of Eucharist, I am not concerned that it is not explicit in the 5 marks as I feel that as people grow in their church, their community and their faith it will become important to them too.

    5) Safe-guard – I suppose probably comes back to the early decree by God that we are stewards of the Earth. Stewards generally look after things and ‘safe-guard’ them – I don’t see it as especially defeatist, perhaps more realistic.

    Anyway, they are just my thoughts.

    God Bless

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