Musing about mission 5 Marks

What’s your understanding of mission?

In this second post, based on things I’ve shared in staff meetings, I want to look at the Anglican church’s 5 marks of mission.

Matthew 28: 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

These two passages, often referred to as Great Commandment and Great Commitment, give two complimentary glimpses of God’s plan for his people. They are sometimes used as a way of showing two sides to mission.

Back in 1980’s Anglican Church did some work to try to describe the process, scope and meaning of mission. There was a debate between those who believed mission was about evangelism, personal salvation, and church planting; and those who saw mission as being about development and social change. Building on what had gone on before at Lausanne and in the World Council of Churches they proposed a number of ‘marks’ that together gave a comprehensive understanding of mission. They proposed that the mission of the church is:

  1. 5 marks of missionTo proclaim the good news of the kingdom
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human needs by loving service
  4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society

At the start of the 90’s a fifth was added: 5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

In the last decade or so that these have moved into common usage as the 5 Marks of Mission.

They are not perfect: Plenty of people have critiqued them:

  • They are not obviously Jesus centred: they are about what we do rather than joining in with the mission of God.
  • They are not worship centred, flowing out of the life of the church (either Eucharistic life if you are more orthodox or gathered community if you are more Baptist), rather they are activies we do.

Nevertheless, they are an attempt to bring together different aspects of mission. They can be thought of as 5 T’s:  Tell – Teach – Tend – Transform – Treasure

One beauty of this understanding is that they bring together global and local mission. If you are a local church these are things that you should live out in your area; they are also things you should strive to support and get involved in across the globe.

The 5 marks idea recognises that folk might be focused on one area, but that these are all linked together.

  • Personally, we might naturally gravitate towards some more than others
  • Our particular context might have needs which we can respond to.
  • Our activies and service are all part of the bigger mission of the church.

To think about

How does your church or mission organisation work out each of these marks of Mission? How could we do more? Are there marks which we are completely missing out?

For us personally:

  • In what ways do you proclaim the kingdom of God?
  • How do you nurture new believers?
  • How do you share God’s blessings with others?
  • What comes up for you when thinking about injustice? How can you respond?
  • What could you do to live a more sustainable life?
  • How can you work with others in your community to do these things?

 Other resources about the 5 marks

A brief introduction to the 5 marks:

A five week/session study guide from USPG that looks at each of the 5 marks:

Photo by Robinson Avila from Pexels

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