A ‘mission-shaped’ church
We are a new and growing church, rooted in the love of God and shaped and fashioned for misson and outreach. This sense of mission shapes everything that we do. As Christians we follow Jesus who said “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20.21). It is not so much that we have a mission, or that we are on a mission…we are called to be part of God’s mission by living and proclaiming the good news. We are not driven people…we are sent people.
“It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church”.
We are a Church of England church and, as part of the worldwide Anglican family, we believe that God’s mission is about transformation – transforming individual lives, transforming communities and transforming the world. As we follow Jesus Christ, we believe that God’s mission is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in three ways: through the Bible, through the tradition and life of the Church, and through our own listening, praying, thinking and sharing as we respond to our own context.
Five marks of mission
In 1984 the Anglican Consultative Council (www.anglicancommunion.org) began to develop a “mission statement” for the worldwide Anglican communion, and the bishops of the Lambeth Conference adopted these “Five Marks Of Mission” in 1988. They were then adopted by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1996.
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 to sustain the life of the earth
The first mark of mission… is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus’ own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). It should be the key statement about everything we do in mission.
A ‘missionary church’
In 2004 the General Synod commended the report “Mission-shaped church” to the whole of the Church of England. Building on the five marks of mission, this report speaks of five values for a missionary church:
- A missionary church is focused on God the Trinity
Worship lies at the heart of a missionary church, and to love and know God as Father, Son and Spirit is its chief inspiration and primary purpose…
- A missionary church is incarnational
It seeks to shape itself in relation to the culture in which it is located or to which it is called…
- A missionary church is transformational
It exists for the transformation of the community that it serves, through the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit…
- A missionary church makes disciples
It is active in calling people to faith in Jesus Christ…it is concerned for the transformation of individuals, as well as for the transformation of communities.
- A missionary church is relational
It is characterized by welcome and hospitality. Its ethos and style are open to change when new members join.
We would say that ‘evangelism’ is about enabling a personal awakening of faith in Jesus Christ. It involves speaking about faith and sharing, person to person, so that people have the opportunity to respond freely to the good news of God’s love in their own setting. It involves a conversation… listening to and learning from others, and speaking personally about the transformation that comes through putting your faith and trust in Jesus.
We would always want to speak about faith in a way that honours and respects the views of others and without pressure, manipulation or condemnation. The apostle Peter, who spent time in the presence of Jesus, expressed in like this:-
“…But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
We therefore aim to be gentle, caring, loving and sensitive whenever we are sharing matters of the heart and whenever we are speaking about what it means to have faith in Jesus and to live as one of his followers.
The Church of England has also committed to support Fresh Expressions (see www.freshexpressions.org.uk). Fresh Expressions encourages new forms of church for a fast changing world, working with Christians from a variety of denominations and traditions. The initiative has resulted in hundreds of new congregations being formed alongside more traditional churches. It was initiated in 2005 by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York with the Methodist Council, but now also involves the United Reformed Church and a number of other partners.
The Church is committed to encourage these “fresh expressions of church” and they may be seen in many places, contexts, neighbourhoods and networks, alongside the traditional worship and work of Christians in the church and in the world.
If you want to find our more, then check out http://www.cofe.anglican.org/faith/mission/missionevangelism.html