What is Mission? (Extended)
In some ways, ‘Mission’ is a somewhat elusive concept, lending itself to various ideas and perspectives. While the bible makes no specific mention of ‘mission’, it is nonetheless the dominant thread in the story that weaves its way from Genesis through to Revelation, as we see the unfolding of God’s plans and purposes for His people and for all of creation.
While CMS Ireland cannot, in itself, define mission – there are certain core principles that shape our thinking, our work as a mission agency and how we live as Christians.
In general terms we believe that mission is God’s plan to renew and restore all creation.
Mission is God’s Mission
In CMS Ireland we believe, first and foremost, that mission is God’s mission.
For us, mission comes from the very nature of God – and the missionary initiative from him alone.
Mission is Holistic Mission
We see no division between the words of the Gospel and the works of the Gospel, between proclamation and social action. In CMS Ireland we are passionately committed to both promoting and enacting ‘holistic’ mission – where word and deed come together.
We strive to be people who will speak about God’s Kingdom in words of proclamation, who will show God’s Kingdom in acts of practical love and who will be God’s Kingdom by exhibiting lives that are continually transformed through a relationship with Christ.
Mission is about the growth of God’s Kingdom – not the growth of the Church
We understand the purpose of mission is to see the lives of individuals and communities transformed through a relationship with God. This means that our priority is to live out God’s Kingdom values and to work for the extension of that Kingdom. However as the Church Mission Society Ireland we also believe in working through and with the Body of Christ worldwide.
As the theologian David Bosch puts it, mission is “the good news of God’s love incarnated in the witness of a community, for the sake of the world.”
Mission is Central to the Life of the Church
There is no division between ‘church life’ and mission. Mission belongs at the heart of the Church, with the central leadership and every member – it is central to our very being.
One of the most helpful ways we’ve found to think about this is in Archbishop Rowan Williams’ quote, “it’s not the Church of God that has a mission but the God of mission who has a Church”. Mission should not be a separate task for a separate committee, or a minority interest for a peculiar few, but should instead inform every aspect of church life.
Mission is both Global and Local
It’s easy to see mission as what happens elsewhere – as the activity of the Church in other parts of the World.
However we believe that ‘world mission’ and ‘home mission’ are interdependent – and they enhance each other. The Church is called to respond globally and locally – and to be involved in both the sending and receiving of people and resources.
The Church in the West is no longer the geographical ‘centre’ of mission activity – there is one Body of Christ, which is international and cross-cultural. Mission happens within cultures and across cultures as God’s people discover and live out God’s plans.
Mission is Relational – Expressed in Partnerships
For us, mission is not what is done to people in other parts of the World – but what we do, in partnership, with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the World.
Partnerships are mutually enriching relationships that enable God’s people to grow in their understanding and outworking of faith. They build on a basis of equal status – where we can both give and receive. As partners with the world church we seek to foster relationships that result in interdependence, rather than perpetuating age-old models of dependency and authority.
We believe that every Christian has significant insights and gifts to share with the worldwide church – a part to play in the Body of Christ.
The exchange of people across geographical and cultural boundaries (long-term and short-term) is essential as we look to: learn from the experiences of others; realise our giftings; resource the Church; understand our own situations more clearly; and educate the church in contextual mission.
Five Marks of Mission
In CMS Ireland we are Anglican in our roots and ecumenical in our outworking – as such we embrace the five marks of mission, as expressed by the Anglican Communion. They are a useful framework for understanding our engagement in mission. These five marks are:
- proclamation of the good news
- teaching and nurturing of new believers
- responding to human need by loving service
- seeking to transform unjust structures in society
- caring for creation
Whilst these marks certainly do not cover every aspect of our walk as disciples they do provide helpful parameters for our daily engagement in mission in God’s world.