The Five Marks of Mission

By Not Known

When I first came to Malaysia and Singapore in 1965, I was appointed by the London Missionary Society. The LMS, as it was affectionately known, was one of the pioneer Protestant missionary societies in England, sending David Livingstone to Africa, Robert Morrison to China, John Williams to the South Seas, and William Chambers to Papua. Its stated purpose was to take the glorious gospel of the blessed God to all nations. It was part of the great European missionary movement of the late 18th and early 19th century.  And when I arrived in Singapore, I was part of a team of 15 overseas missionaries working with the local Presbyterian churches. When I left in 1998, I was the sole missionary survivor. The LMS had ceased to exist and had become the Council for World Mission.

Over the past 50 years there has been a fundamental change in missionary thinking. The focus has changed from the individual missionary to the mission of the church, and from pioneering work to partnership ventures. Mission is now seen not just in terms of pioneering, but in terms of partnership, not just in terms of mission overseas but mission locally. Mission is now understood as more than just evangelism and sending missionaries, though it must always include that, but in terms of church sharing and partnership. Also it is now seen in the light of God’s total mission and the salvation of his people and of his creation.

The United Reformed Church in the UK has challenged its members to respond to five marks of mission. These are:-

1. To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom – TO TELL

2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers – TO TEACH

3. To respond to human need by loving service – TO TEND

4. To seek to transform the unjust structures of society – TO TRANSFORM

5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, to sustain and renew the life of the earth – TO TREASURE

In these five marks, mission is seen as the ongoing everyday life of the church. Mission is not a committee or an activity of the church such as a mission trip. It is not something done exclusively overseas by missionaries.  It is the very essence of the church. “The church exists by mission as fire by burning” as one leading Lutheran theologian put it. And that makes all of us missionaries!

So just as mission is rooted and begins in the mind and action of God in sending his Son, so mission is rooted in our minds and begins with us and our service and ministry in ORPC.  Our mission is tell others of the gospel, to teach, disciple and baptise new and young Christians, to care for, counsel, share and visit one another in practical ways, to stand up for justice to the poor, the exploited and those marginalised by society, and to commit ourselves to passing on a world to our children that reflects God’s beauty and not human commercialism and ugliness. Let our vision be nothing less than a new heaven and a new earth and let our motivation be the straightforward words of Jesus “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”(John 20:21)