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The Five Marks of Mission

The Five Marks of Mission have been developed by the Anglican Consultative Council since 1984.

The Marks were adopted by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1996.

In 2012, the ACC added wording to the fourth mark, to include the need for Christians to challenge violence and work for peace. 

The Five Marks have been widely held as an understanding of what contemporary mission is about, and many dioceses and other denominations use them as the basis of action plans and creative mission ideas.

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom


  1. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers


  1. To respond to human need by loving service


  1. To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation


  1. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Looking at the life of the whole church through the lens of the

Five Values of a Missionary Church 

Mission Shaped Church contained Five Values which are central to both the local church as well as to new church plants and fresh expressions of the church - a focus for all we do as a church, for who we are as the people of God and how this will make connections with those outside of the church context.


1. 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. It worships and serves a missionary God, and understands itself to share in the divine mission.
All of its life and activity is under girded by prayer.


The starting point for any discussion about the shape of mission and ministry in the church must start with God – whose mission and ministry it really is. The danger is that mission and ministry become seen as human endeavours and God is often sidelined. Worship is our first priority, and God is always the source of mission but first the object of our passion and adoration. 

  • That our worship leads people into an encounter with God rather than what we are going to get out of it
  • That through worship we are better equipped to live a Christian life during the week rather than leaving one indifferent
  • That worship has a variety of expression of joy and silence and colour and shade rather than just being monotonous and predictable
  • That worship makes us want to invite others and share what we have experienced rather than being part of our private piety
  • That the church exudes an inner vitality expressed in outward – directed attitudes
  • That worship energises us and we leave transformed


“Christian Worship should be the most momentous, the most urgent the most glorious action” Karl Barth


2. A missionary church is incarnational

A missionary church seeks to shape itself in relation to the culture in which it is located or to which it is called. Whenever it is called to be cross-cultural then its long-term members or initial team lay aside their cultural preferences about church to allow the emergence of a form or style of church to be shaped by those they are seeking to reach. If a church is long established, then it evaluates itself in relation to the culture of the community it serves, and strips away whatever is not required by the gospel. An incarnational church seeks to be responsive to the activity of the Spirit in its community. 

The starting point of the Christian faith is that in Jesus, God became fully human. He dwelt among us and shaped his life and the disciples around the culture which he found himself. This often led to difficulty but Christian values often ran and now run counter to the values of the age. Jesus’ teaching constantly shows how he used the methods of the day to communicate the faith through story and action and making connections with the culture of the day. 

  • That the church is seen as a central part of the community rather than a quaint irrelevance
  • That the church is constantly reviewing how it can best express the Gospel as the community changes
  • The church is looking to provide events, services and to serve the community
  • The church is willing to embrace change when new people come
  • That the church recognises that we are all in a missionary context – in our family, workplace, community, networks
  • To inhabit the culture, know the local dialect or willingness to learn it afresh
  • Views tradition as a living organism
  • Desire to understand the local culture and to enter into it – possibly through doing a community audit and then implementing the results


“The gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address because the recipient is repeatedly changing his place of residence” Helmut Theilicke


3. A missionary church is transformational

A missionary church exists for the transformation of the community that it serves, through the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. It is not self-serving, self-seeking or self-focused. The kingdom of God is its goal, and church is understood as a servant and sign of God's kingdom in its community, whether neighbourhood or network. 

The starting point for Jesus’ ministry in Luke 4 was to proclaim the Good News to the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight to the blind. In other words, Jesus saw the big picture. He wanted people to follow him, but also that the world might be changed through the presence of Christians 

  • The church is actively engaged in social projects and community organisations
  • The church seeks to live out its faith through its work and action
  • The church is not seen as a club to join, but an agent of change for good in the community
  • People talk about the church as being “good news” for the community
  • The church marks regular Sundays which connect with the big issues of life. The church has an understanding of acting as a glimpse and pointer to the kingdom of God –of being “salt and light”


“Not only is the boundary between evangelism and church planting becoming very porous and overlapping but the boundary between these two and social action and community ministry is becoming very porous and overlapping – thank God – in all cases” Bishop Graham Cray


4. A Missionary Church makes disciples

A missionary church is active in calling people in faith in Jesus Christ, and it is equally committed to the development of a consistent Christian lifestyle appropriate to, but not withdrawn from, the culture or cultures in which it operates. It engages with culture, but also presents a counter-cultural challenge by its corporate life based on the world-view and values of the gospel. It encourages the gifting and vocation of all the people of God, and invests in the development of leaders. It is concerned for the transformation of individuals as well as the transformation of communities. 

The ending point of Jesus’ ministry in the Great Commission was when he told his followers to “Go and make disciples”. What he didn’t say was to go and make new Christians as a one-off experience. Disciples are life-long apprentices, learning and growing on an accompanied journey. Disciples are not driven by courses or syllabuses but have an on-going hunger to deepen their faith and their spirituality. 

  • The church regularly runs nurture courses and enquirers courses
  • The church is committed to the ongoing growth of the church members in confidence and depth of faith
  • Members of the church are able to articulate their faith in word and action
  • The church provides vocations of all kinds and many people exercise a ministry (rather than filling the rotas)
  • The church is thinking about how to attract those of no faith background
  • People in the church talk openly about how God is working in their lives


“Does your church have a maternity ward or an incubator for the faith?” Bishop Richard Chartres


5. A Missionary Church is relational

In a missionary church, a community of faith is being formed. It is characterized by welcome and hospitality. Its ethos and style are open to change when new members join. Believers are encouraged to establish interdependent relationships with fellow Christians as they grow into Christ. As a community it is aware that it is incomplete without interdependent relationships with other Christian churches and communities. It does not seek to stand alone.  

So much of Jesus’ ministry was spending time with individuals listening to them and shaping his answers around what he heard. He had close friends, but his ministry was to get close to individuals, such as the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, the blind man by the pool, Cleopas on the road to Emmaus etc. How much of our time in church is spent with the functions of the place rather than with the people of the place. 

  • A church which provides a welcome after you have said “hello”
  • A church which takes its relationships seriously and is a family
  • A church with small groups where there is trust and openness
  • A church which values what people have to offer and finds a place for gifts to flourish
  • A church which has regular celebrations, away-days which are not about work but simply about enjoying each others’ company
  • Conflicts are dealt with openly, honestly and maturely
  • Is not too busy but has time for people


He [Abbot John Dwarf] said, “You don’t build a house by starting with the roof and working down.
start with the foundations”. They said, “What does that mean?” He said, “The foundation is our
neighbour whom we must win.  The neighbour is where we start.  Every commandment of Christ
depends on this.       
From Silence and Honey Cakes, Rowan Williams