What is Mission?
Wrangthorn is part of the Church of England, which identifies five ‘marks’ of mission - key characteristics of a missional church. Not everything the church does needs to meet all five, but a missional church will do so through a variety of activities.
The first of the five is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. This mark acts as a summary of the others and is based on Jesus’ stated mission. This good news, that God loved the world so much he sent his son Jesus to save it (John 3:16-17), is continually proclaimed through our words and actions in church services: through encountering God’s Word; praying; singing and joining in communion (fellowship) with others. But personal evangelism is also a key part of this aspect of mission. People who don’t know Jesus need to come to him, and the church (including everyone in it) has a part to play in this, again though both our words and actions.
It is also important to remember that this good news is much bigger that any one person’s salvation - the Bible tells us not that our hope is in going to heaven but that earth will be renewed and joined with heaven.
The second is to teach, baptise and nurture new believers. Jesus told his followers to ‘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 28:19-20) Being a disciple of Jesus is to know and follow him: ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (John 13:34-35). However, loving discipleship can be costly (see Luke 14:25-33).
Alongside gathering on Sundays and spending personal time in prayer and reading the Bible, where possible, going to a small group is helpful as they are a really good place for discipleship to deepen through prayer, Bible studies, and fellowship. For this reason, small groups feed into the third mark as well.
The third mark is to respond to human need by loving service. The kingdom of God is marked by righteousness and justice - the restoration of right relationships between God and people. Jesus summarised this when he said: ‘“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.”’ (Matthew 22:37-39). He illustrated this in the parable of the Good Samaritan and demonstrated it throughout his ministry. When we follow Jesus, we see that mission is not just about proclaiming the Gospel and discipling believers but recognising that everyone is made in God’s image and treating them with the dignity they deserve and caring for them.
To be continued…