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.
The integration of evangelism and social transformation.
The balance between mercy ministry and political and structural change.
The inclusion of environmental concern.
The holding together of all five of these aspects is underlined – especially as evangelism is increasingly being marginalised in some churches.
As a baptist love the inclusion of “baptism of new believers”
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?
Mission in a Broken World – Report of ACC 8 Wales 1990, London: Anglican Consultative Council ,1990,
Thanks to my amazing son – here is a bingo game to play during the Eurovision song contest.
You can pick a wildcard country in advance and they will score you double points. So if you think one act is likely to have a lot of winks or clothes changes select them. Otherwise just score along as the evening goes on. You need to fill in the countries you think will be in the top3 – after the performances but before the voting!
Congratulations to the following tweeters – you are officially in the twitter sweepstake! Here are the countries you have been randomly assigned thanks to random.org
Bosnia & Herzogovina
I’ll try and post a little game card that you might like to use as an additional bonus fun feature. All the best guys – see you on twitter – don’t forget to make the most of the opportunities to raise issues of human rights in Azerbaijan too.
Our family often will watch the Eurovision song contest with friends and play a kind of bingo game – “how many winks to camera” “how many costume changes” etc as well as vote for the winner competition. But this year because of the situation in Azerbaijan I was wondering about boycotting the event. But then I had a really interesting twitter conversation about whether to boycott the Eurovision song contest because it was being held in Azerbaijan and their human rights record is atrocious. A friend of mine made the following suggestion :
I love it. It’s a great idea. So here’s the plan – during the Eurovision Song contest – amidst all the hilarity – lets raise the issue of human rights in Azerbaijan.
The official twitter accounts are:
@bbceurovision – for the widest UK coverage – it makes sense to use the BBC twitter feed.
@eurovision – is the official eurovision – twitter feed – with some 60 000 followers
Hashtags – i think #esc12 is the most used – but happy to be corrected on this.
Peter Reeve made me aware of this helpful infographic
Other tweetable sources:
Against a backdrop of skirmishes along Azerbaijan and Armenia’s ceasefire line and an increase in their defence budgets, little progress was made in the negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group. Some 600,000 people internally displaced by the conflict continued to suffer discriminatory registration requirements and inadequate housing. – Amnesty International
Threats, harassment, and acts of violence against journalists and civil society activists continued with impunity, leading to an increase in self-censorship. Criminal and civil defamation laws were used to silence criticism, resulting in prison sentences and heavy fines against journalists.
Even in the build up to Eurovision – this happened;
(Baku) – The Azerbaijani authorities roughed up and arbitrarily detained at least 30 and possibly more than 70 peaceful protesters today as dozens of local and international journalists looked on, Human Rights Watch said today. The protesters were held for several hours, then released. (Human Rights Watch)
According to Reporters without Borders: Azerbaijan ranks very near the bottom for freedom of the Press.
According to Amnesty, 16 political prisoners remain behind bars in Azerbaijan.
As we get closer to the event – your help in collating more information for tweets would be really helpful.
As part of the Evangelical Alliance’s “Confidence in the Gospel” initiative. We are pulling together 5 national consultation days to have the major conversations about how we raise confidence in the gospel across the nation. The first of these days will focus one of the most contentious and challenging questions we need to ask ourselves as evangelicals: “What is the gospel?” People from a range of different backgrounds assume they know the answer to this question and so it often remains an unnamed and unspoken elephant in the room in much discussion. I am pulling together some of the programme for a major conversation about this subject and wanted to brainstorm the questions with you. Love to know which questions I have forgotten and would love to hear who the key players both in the UK and wider afield we need to involve in this conversation. I am assuming in the conversation that participants have a high view of scripture and a desire to take it seriously in our contemporary cultures.
1. Does the gospel preached have to sound like Paul in Romans? Or Can it sound like Paul in Athens? Jesus in Galillee?
For many the gospel is the order and content of bits of the book of Romans. So for example – we must convict of sin first (romans 3:23), we must talk about Christ’s death next (romans 5:8) and then we must call people to confess with their mouths and their hearts (Romans 10:9). But the gospel according to Paul in Athens has space for a different angle. Jesus sometimes lead with grace first and then challenge. If we depart from the Romans model have we as some believe departed from biblical orthodoxy?
2. What is the difference between the gospel and the call to radical discipleship?
This seems to be what Don Carson is talking about by asking us to distinguish between the gospel and its entailments. He seems to be arguing that the gospel is news about what Jesus has done – but does not include our response to that news, see here:
By learning, with careful study of Scripture, just what the gospel is, becoming passionately excited about this gospel, and then distinguishing between the gospel and its entailments. The gospel is the good news of what God has done, especially in Christ Jesus, especially in his cross and resurrection; it is not what we do. Because it is news, it is to be proclaimed. But because it is powerful, it not only reconciles us to God, but transforms us, and that necessarily shapes our behavior, priorities, values, relationships with people, and much more. These are not optional extras for the extremely sanctified, but entailments of the gospel. To preach moral duty without the underlying power of the gospel is moralism that is both pathetic and powerless; to preach a watered-down gospel as that which tips us into the kingdom, to be followed by discipleship and deeds of mercy, is an anemic shadow of the robust gospel of the Bible; to preach the gospel and social justice as equivalent demands is to misunderstand how the Bible hangs together.
Not sure if I understand what he means. If the entailments are not “optional extras” but therefore “necessary inclusions” why does he make such a big deal between distinguishing between the gospel and its entailments. Surely its the same as preaching faith and repentance – trust in the gospel message and a calling for an appropriate response. A lot of the emphasis on what the gospel is has been too narrowly defined in terms of God and me as an individual who wants to go to heaven when i die because of Jesus’ death. Lets explore the full scope and scale of the gospel and its response.
3. Does the gospel always need to include an account of penal substitution?
Not wanting to resurrect old debates, but if we recognise both that Penal substitution is a clear biblical model of the atonement is it also admissible that there are other models present in scripture too. Have we preached the gospel if we have drawn mainly on the model of Redemption, Sacrifice, Victory or Reconciliation to name but four others.
4. What are the key motivators for calling people to believe? Is the threat of Hell an essential part of every gospel message?
Some argue that we have not preached the gospel if we have not warned people that if they don’t respond then they are facing eternal conscious torment in Hell. Even those that believe in eternal conscious torment are not always convinced that this needs to be a part of a gospel message for it to orthodox. Is it true to Jesus’ teaching that the threat of Hell was the primary motivator he gave for every evangelistic conversation?
5. Should the gospel sound like a self-esteem self help programme?
Some groups make the gospel sound like God’s main priority for your life is that you see yourself as loveable. Now working with traumatised children I am beginning to understand how important a correct self image is. But if the gospel stops there – surely we are missing some important elements of the gospel out.
6. Should you expect to get the “whole of the gospel’ across in every evangelistic message?
I have been preaching evangelistically I have been aware that there is a mental ticklist in some of the Christians listening to what I am saying. But is there a place for scene setting sermons that clear away the challenges or do we need to distinguish between apologetics, evangelism and discipleship? I would argue for a more seamless connectivity between these three areas.
Looking forward to speaking at Moorlands College this week. They have asked me to speak (for a couple of hours) on the key challenges and opportunities facing evangelicals in the UK. I do not claim to have anything like a panoramic view of the evangelical scene – so thought I would post the issues as I see them and then ask my social media community to make their contributions. Hopefully that way we get a fuller and more accurate picture of what is going on. I have not worked out an order of priority – so feel free to make comments on that too:
5 key challenges
1. Uncertainty of the gospel leads to confusing gospel & culture
Despite a greater sense of missional vision in churches across the UK (see later) we are still struggling to articulate the gospel in “non excruciating” (as one student put it to me recently) ways. There is a growing embarrassment over using words in mission and when we do use words they are often borrowed words from one time bound articulation of the gospel rather than a biblically faithful, culturally relevant and Spirit dependent words.
2. Uncertainty of our role in Public life leads to retreat or Christendom
What is our role in relating to government and media? For some our country has departed so far from biblical values and norms that there is a retreat into a christian ghetto such that there is a complete withdrawal of the church from public life. For others they see our main job as trying to reinforce Christendom – for the church to reassert its once dominant role in the shaping of public life. For the latter this often revolves around hot button issues such as : abortion, euthanasia and sexuality. This leads to sadly a lack of grace in the way that we relate to government and media. There is another way to engage in public life. We look for what Leslie Newbigin called a genuinely missionary encounter with our culture. We assume that PostChristendom is a new opportunity for engagement – we seek to build a relationship with our culture in the same way that the early church did and that cross cultural missionaries have done for generations. We start with finding ways to bless babylon rather than continually chastise it.
3. Personality Driven Tribes and Market forces leads to Empire Building & replication
There is a lot of resource within the evangelical world – but a lot of it is being utilised in ways that encourage competition rather than co-operation. Because of the previous two issues: uncertainty about the gospel and relationship with the wider culture we have retreated into a christian subculture that is often defined by which evangelical tribe we are in or which personality we follow. So there are a number of parallel conferences, training initiatives, mission agencies that basically all do the same things but are divided over personality conflict, style or secondary theological issues. Our impact rather than being amplified is dissipated, the combined resources we have are huge but sadly the problem is we are busy building empires rather than seeking the kingdom.
4. Discipleship Deficit leads to Consumer Christians
As Bishop Graham Cray often points out, our culture is better at discipling us than the church. Because we have not adequately discipled our children, young people, emerging adults, adults and older people – our culture has done the job for us. There are many positive elements in our culture but there are some that are destructive. The Consumer, self-centred side to our culture is having far reaching consequences into the life, worship, teaching and mission of the church. As a result one of the key areas we are seeing catastrophic losses is the missing generation of twenty somethings who are not virtually absent from the life of the church. We are not equipping people to live life in the footsteps of Jesus and so when they get hit by the disciplemaking machine of our culture they have no defences and are blown away. With so many people wiped out of effective Christian life and service we are unable to effectively reach this generation with the gospel. It’s time we rediscovered the church as a disciple making community.
5. Colonialism and Good Intentions
One of our problems in the UK is that a colonial superiority complex lingers on and so we don’t know how to work well with our brothers and sisters in the global church. We could really use their help right now rather than us exporting some of our Christian subculture their way. A lot of the ways we relate to the rest of the global church is well intentioned but often inappropriate, arrogant and driven more by good marketing than good sense.
1. Greater sense of unity experienced across cities and towns and villages
The national scene may be seeing more tribalism, repetition and competition but across cities and towns we are seeing a greater willingness to work collaboratively than I can remember. Thanks to initiatives like HOPE, Foodbanks, CAP, Street Pastors etc, lots of local unity movements are springing up. My friend Roger Sutton in his work with the Evangelical Alliance is now in touch with nearly 100 of these local initiatives. Churches seeking the welfare of the city, seeking to reach out with good news to their communities are working together shoulder to shoulder.
2. More churches seeking to be holistic in their mission
It’s hard to find a church in the UK that is only doing Sunday Services and House group meetings. Most churches are doing something to reach out to their community. There is a greater appreciation of holistic / integral mission in the churches than I can remember. True this sometimes means we find it easier to do social transformation than evangelism – but at least we believe we ought to be doing both! I am working on a project at the Evangelical Alliance to address how we do the words part better of word and deed mission. (www.eauk.org/confidence)
3. Better social media communications networks
Communication is so easy – this must be an opportunity for us to be a body, a network, a connected generation of disciples seeking to bring transformation, hope, goodnews to our world. If James Davison Hunter is right that the key to significant social change is to network thinkers, leaders, doers in all sorts of spheres of influence – then the technology is there ready and waiting.
4. Strength and Wisdom in the Global Church
Our brothers and sisters throughout the world have been wrestling with the challenges of living as the people of Godin tough situations for a long time now. Our brothers and sisters never knew what it was like for the Church to have social significance, money and power and yet the gospel has been spreading at an amazing rate through Latin America, Asia and Africa. There is much to learn from their perseverance, creativity, faithfulness and courage.
5. Last but not least The Holy Spirit’s ability to transform any situation for God’s glory
I believe God’s power, glory and purposes have not changed. The same God that took a small minority of bedraggled and persecuted believers and used them to turn the world upside down is still alive and well today. The same God that helped to reform the church from heresy and hypocrisy in the reformation. The same God empowered Martin Luther King to turn the tide on racism through the civil rights movement. The same God helped Wilberforce and the abolitionists to turn the tide on slavery. He can turn the tide on the church in Europe.
So over to you…
There’s my first stab. What would you say are the key opportunities and challenges? Drop me a line below.
The very kind people at Saddleback church let me use pastor Rick Warren’s private studio to make a quick video to spread the word about the national consultation on fostering and adoption. (special thanks to Justin Heglund for giving his time and talent for free to do this).
We are having 6 consultation events around the country to talk with current foster and adoptive carers, Christian social workers and Church leaders. If you are interested check out the dates below and then click here to register.