Rector's Reflections - 8 April

Rector’s Reflections  

Monday 8th April 2024

21st Century Church: Mission, Evangelism, Discipleship

Today marks the start of a new series of reflections. I’m going to write about three concepts which are central to current discussions about what we should be focussing on in the life of our parish churches. The three concepts overlap, but it is helpful to start by looking at each one in turn.

To start with, there is the concept of “Mission”.  There is no one agreed definition of what is meant by “mission”, but there is nonetheless a general expectation that every parish church should be actively engaged “in mission” in some shape or form. 

Although there is no one agreed definition of  what constitutes “mission”, some people find  it helpful to distinguish between “the mission of God”  and the “mission of the Church”.  The idea behind this distinction is that God’s mission and activity is not necessarily confined to the mission and activity of the Church. God can be found at work outside the confines of the Church, and there are times when the Church’s agenda is unfortunately nothing to do with God’s agenda at all. The Church is perfectly capable of pursuing an agenda which is dominated by power, politics and secular values, rather than the values of the Gospel. But the hope is that it is God’s usual practice to work in and through the Church,  although it is recognised that God may also choose to work outside the Church in particular situations and for particular reasons.

Another way of thinking about what the word “mission” might mean is to look at the Anglican Five Marks of Mission.  These Five Marks of Mission have been developed by the Anglican Consultative Council and were adopted by General Synod in 1996.  They are as follows :

(1) To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;

(2) To teach, baptize and nurture new believers;

(3) To respond to human need by loving service;

(4) To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of very kind and  to pursue peace and reconciliation;

(5) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

I wonder what you make of these Five Marks of Mission?  Do you find them helpful in getting a handle on what the word “mission” might actually mean in practice?


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