Ever heard of the Five Marks of Mission? Well …

On Sunday, believing ourselves “sent into the world” by Jesus in his prayer—John 17:18—we looked at the “Five Marks of Mission” set before Episcopalians (and all Anglicans worldwide) in 1984 and again in 1990.

“The Mission of the Church is the mission of Christ.”

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

See: http://bit.ly/KCHAf6 (Anglican Communion)
(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p 49,
Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p 101)

Around the table each of us found one of the marks “hitting the mark” in our heart. For me it was the last mark “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Men and women of faith have reached differing conclusions about “how” this ought to be undertaken, or if it should be undertaken at all.

For another the fourth mark “To seek to transform unjust structures of society” raised the question of discerning a God-given mission amidst the current political environment in America where men and women of faith who have reached different conclusions about what is an “unjust structure” of society tend to vilify and even demonize each other publicly.

It was a lively discussion. It raised more questions than it answered. It led us to pray for each other.

  • Which of the “marks” speaks most vividly to you?
  • What questions are raised in your heart as you begin to expand the summary statement of that mark?
  • How do you see these marks flowing from your Baptismal Covenant (with God and other Episcopalians)?
  • Or, do you see these marks flowing from the Baptismal Covenant at all?
  • How do you discern God’s call to you? Who or what are your guides in discernment?

Please offer a question or comment, let’s continue the conversation.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

One thought on “Ever heard of the Five Marks of Mission? Well …”

  1. One hallmark of our current political polarization is that certain key words draw us into that polarized perspective whether intended or not. When I characterized The Last Week by J D Crossan and M Borg as being a ‘liberal’ work I meant it in contrast to a conservative, literal, fundamentalist approach to biblical study, not as a door opener to contemporary politics.

    The cross- cultural, interdisciplinary, historical & anthropological techniques that Crossan & Borg employ should, I think, be experienced by all who are interested in study of the Bible, hence my recommendation of their work.

    Point 4 “To seek to transform unjust structures of society” could in my opinion be taken directly from the pages of The Last Week as it explores social justice as a major component of Jesus’ ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and argues the case for colusion between the occupying Romans and Jewish rulers in controling society and in responding to the threat of Jesus’ teaching.

    Borg and Crossan treat the entire Passion Narrative from the Gospel of Mark – no edited verses, the whole story. This allows them to employ analysis of structure and content, leaving nothing out and thus dealing with ALL that Mark included as necessary to his account. This leaves one with a real sense of this evangelists priorities and forces the reader to consider his work in total.

    Familiar stories take on a new clarity and some do an about face. “The Widows Mite” that I have heard preached as “everyone has something to give” becomes in this unrelenting context “the Temple taxers wring out every cent.”

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