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five marks of mission

Worship IS part of our Mission

five marks of mission

You are on the back foot if people cannot remember the name of your organisation. You have even bigger problems when even members of your organisation, including significant leadership,find the name of your organisation difficult to remember. This is compounded if the membership finds the expression of its mission difficult to recall. It gets even worse if your organisation, in its mission statement, omits something that is at the heart of what you (are meant to) do.

Jesus has a very memorable mission statement: love God (with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength); love your neighbour as yourself. If Jesus were alive today 😉 I’m sure he would add the environment/nature/creation.

Yes, people both outside of and part of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia get its name wrong. Good luck finding someone who can recite the mission statement of the church!

The meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2014 added wording to our Standing Resolution (Sundry/Other) 1, where the Anglican “5 Marks of Mission” have become “Principles of Mission”. The words added to the fourth Mark of Mission are “to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation”.

The best mnemonic for the Five Marks that I have seen is: Tell – Teach – Tend – Transform – Treasure.

Our church’s constitution has the five reduced to four. And now our Standing Resolution differs significantly from our church Constitution!

But imagine a school that doesn’t put education into its mission, or a shop that doesn’t put selling, or a hospital that omits improving health… Our church does not have worship as part of this statement of mission!!!

Where is Jesus’ loving-God-for-God’s-sake part of the mission of being church?!

A mindset that reduces the church’s mission to doing stuff outside of worship turns worship into a means. Worship then becomes a means to evangelise. Worship then becomes entertainment. All the things we so often discuss here.

Worship must be central to our mission. It was central to Jesus. It was first up in his mission statement.

I asked for a ‘worship’ word starting with “t” to add to the mnemonic. I acknowledge the one I thought best was “Thanksgiving“: Thanksgiving – Tell – Teach – Tend – Transform – Treasure.

Well done those who have not felt constrained by the inadequate five marks of mission and have come up with their own. The Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, an Anglican diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church have nine marks of mission. And guess what their first mark of mission is? Worship. “We worship in ways that inspire and renew”. The Church of England diocese of Leicester has its own nine marks under the understanding “Shaped by God“. The worship mark is, “worship in a way that renews and inspires, echoing the praise of heaven”. And there is also, “being rooted in prayer, because prayer is part of our loving response to the needs of the world”.

Here’s the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, on this mission agenda:

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14 thoughts on “Worship IS part of our Mission”

  1. “If Jesus were alive today 😉 I’m sure he would add [love] the environment/nature/creation.”

    Well, if you think about it, Bosco, that’s already implicit in “love God (with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength).”

    After all, Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it — the world and all its people belong to him,” and if you love someone, you treat his/her property right, especially when you’re just a temporary guest passing through his/her premises and availing oneself of his/her hospitality. It’s only polite.

    Come to think of it, love of the environment/nature/creation is also implicit in “love your neighbour as yourself.” As 1 John 3:17 says: “If someone has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion — how can God’s love be in that person?” It seems God made this world to be shared equitably.

  2. Worship, surely, is the best proof of faith in the God who instigates our mission in the first place. Without it, the mission might be self-defeating. Certainly, without the Sacred Liturgy, we ignore the subject and object of our worship, and, therefore our motivation to ‘Spread the Good News’. “Do this to re-member me” – the injunction of Jesus!

  3. Nifty logo, Bosco!

    The building behind Bishop Stevens doesn’t look to me like it was “shaped by God”. Perhaps another “mark of mission” could be “the demolition of irredeemable ugliness”. 😉

  4. Is worship part of mission, or is it more like breathing for the Body of Christ? Without it the Body will surely die, with it the Body has the ‘oxygen’ it needs for mission. A quote from Bishop Christopher Cocksworth at our diocesan study day (today in Coventry Diocese) describing the aim of the Parish Communion Movement – to give the Body of Christ [the Church] a regular encounter with the Body of Christ [on the altar] so that they can better be the Body of Christ in the world = mission. I’m not sure worship is a missional activity – it is even more central and essential than that.

    1. Thanks, John. I sort of get your point, but you must also be getting mine: “with [worship] the Body has the ‘oxygen’ it needs for mission” – that can give the impression it is a means, not an end. Blessings.

  5. I was finally moved to write after some recent experiences in an RC and Anglican churches at weekend services, one at a vigil, the other the following morning. As one knows the form and words of services are quite similar. Let us be honest, the words of worship are largely cliches.They become some kind pr worship through the service leader as was revealed by the infectious even childish enthusiasm of the RC priest compared with the no doubt sincere propriety of the Anglican priest.
    And then an earlier comment presumably expresses horror at communion for those not baptised. Let us make Jesus a pharisee instead of one open to people. Try for instance reading Sara Miles.

  6. Thanks, Bosco. Without putting too much stress on metaphors, the overriding point is that without oxygen the body dies – I admit my phraseology can make it look like I’m talking of worship as simply being a means to empower or enable mission, but worship is much more central to the very being of the church than that. I take your point of worship being something which is worthy of being an end in itself, and I understand your baulking at a description of the church which doesn’t include worship for its own sake. However, I have problems with churches that narrow worship down to a particular liturgical pattern and see that as sufficient to discharge any obligation there might be towards mission. I think the truth is that worship and mission are both purposes of the church but, more than that, they belong together and are inextricably linked. In the Diocese of Coventry we have a threefold mission purpose of Worshipping God, Making New Disciples and Transforming Communities. That’s not to say we worship merely to evangelise or for social regeneration, or that the acts of evangelising or of transforming communities are acts of worship in themselves. I suppose another way of looking at this is to think of the church as a sacramental community whose missional activity is an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace which flows from its worship. I believe that authentic worship is both transformative and evangelistic, but neither are reasons for worshipping God. That, in the end, is a response to who God is and the relationship he calls us to have with him.

  7. There wasn’t anything horrific in the words that I wrote. But yes Brian, I am one who does not embrace the concept of communion before/without baptism. And I don’t see anything pharisaical about it. Sara was exactly who was on my mind when I made my comment, no matter how many words she may write or speak on the subject, I will disagree with her.

    I have no idea where you live, but in North America we value a baptismal covenant. A concept I know is not well understood by other provinces of the Communion after a conversation over a year ago on the blog of my on line friend, the provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland, the Very Rev’d Kelvin Holdsworth. Part of what forms my belief on the matter is my understanding that baptism is an initiatory rite, while the Eucharist is a celebratory rite. One precedes the other and regular practice of communion before/without baptism has them backwards.

    I find the church and communion after baptism a concept that is open and welcoming. I whole heartedly agree with my brother and another on line friend;

    “The church is radically inclusive and baptism is the means by which people are included. Communion is the celebration of that inclusion, not its means.”
    The Rev’d Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG
    Vicar of St James Fordham (Bronx), NYC, NY

  8. brother David, I come from Australia as a catholic active in Anglicanism. I suspect that many, po active members of my parish would agree with you and be as sincere as you are. Our last rector would not have agreed with you as it happens. Communion is indeed a celebration that should be open to all desiring it and not confined by ritualism. I was baptised when a few weeks old into the RC church. May I wonder how infant baptism is in any valid sense a true initiation . Mostly such baptisms are little more than a community, social event.
    In passing i have seen a Buddhist nun receive communion with joy. Is this a horror?

    1. It is only you who keeps invoking the word horror.

      Were I his bishop, your former rector wouldn’t be a priest who represented me in the diocese and taught or practiced communion without baptism publicly.

      Baptism nor communion appear to have any meaning as you present them.

  9. As the
    Episcopal Church’s great 20th century Presiding Bishop John Elbridge
    Hines once said: “When you do an audacious thing, you do not then
    tremble at your own audacity.”
    I quote Bishop Spong above which will, no doubt, do little to justify it.
    But who is the person to stand between someone believing in Christ and communion. As I gaze around i see little connection between belief in Christ and baptism. Baptism after real experience of Communion would seem to be a rather greater sign.

    1. It’s a lot like advocating for living together and being sexually intimate and then later when you think that you’re pretty sure that you might stick it out for the long term, deciding to get married.

      And the day folks start thinking that’s what the church should espouse, I’ll be against that as well.

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