"Mission: the vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith."
The above definition is what came up when I typed the word “mission” into Google. I think we can all agree that it is not really the idea we had in our heads...at least it wasn't for me. When I think of "mission," I think of going somewhere in South America or Africa to help poor people in need, but not going out to spread faith.
While mission work that involves helping people is not wrong, it is much more meaningful when you are building relationships with those you are helping. Mission has lost a lot of its meaning in the past years. Mission should not be looked at as a mandatory “if you don't do this you're a bad person,” or, “if I do this it will look good on my college application” type of work. It should be looked at as an intentional decision to help others and form new believers in Christ.
I know that the Five Marks of Mission are used fairly often in the Episcopal Church but there is a reason behind it: they hit the nail on the head.
Here are the Five Marks of Mission:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Most people look at these marks the way they are numbered: 1,2,3,4, and 5. I like to look at them in a little bit of a different way. We as Christians are called to respond to human need by loving service, safeguarding the integrity of creation, transforming unjust structures of society and pursue peace and reconciliation. Through these things we can proclaim the good news of the Kingdom and teach, baptize and nurture new believers. When we look at the Marks of Mission as one being we are unlocking the door to a real and true mission experience. The marks are not for picking and choosing what you want to do; the Marks stand together and when you are doing one you should be doing them all.
Integrating community, mission and teaching into one experience will change the way we look at mission. It will change the way people act towards it. We will not longer expect praise. We will no longer be serving inauthentically. We will be serving God and his church through a meaningful and authentic way.
David's ministry placement is with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania as the Youth Ministry Assistant for the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE).