CMS mission principles
Mission is a complex word and mission itself has a complicated past. The following is a summary of the beliefs that currently guide us in our work. As a frequently-questioning, constantly-learning community, CMS prayerfully revisits these principles from time to time as we continue to rediscover God’s mission together.
1. We believe God calls us into God’s mission.
Our understanding of mission begins with the recognition that God is a God of mission. Mission is God’s nature and God’s activity.
Mission finds its starting point in our discernment of God’s activity in the world.
We prayerfully attend to context and seek to discern God’s leading within it. We begin with a posture of listening to the Spirit, to the Scriptures, to the body of Christ in that place or space, to culture, seeking the signs that point towards the presence and activity of God.
Mission, at its heart, is sharing Jesus.
This sharing of Jesus is a commitment of the whole of life. We rejoice in sharing Christ not only as we speak of him but also as we seek to model our lives on him, as we become the good news that we proclaim. This desire to be like Jesus, to follow where he has led, involves a sacrificial following, a costly discipleship. Mission is a mutual activity, a global sharing, interchange, friendship and partnership. In encountering Christ in others, together we discover the reality of the Christ we share.
Mission is contextual.
People need to discover who Jesus is and what it means to follow him from within their own language, culture and context. Through that shared discovery together we obtain a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.
Mission is transformative.
From our founding CMS has been rooted in a wider movement convinced about the power and agency of the gospel to transform individuals, communities and social structures and the responsibility of Christians to participate in that work.
Mission bears witness to the good news of the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.
From Jesus’ life and ministry we see that the good news he announced embraced healing, forgiveness, deliverance, the freeing of captives, the releasing of debts. He proclaims that in him God’s sovereign reign of justice and righteousness, Israel’s longed-for Shalom, is realised. He lives out that good news, befriending those at the margins of society, the untouchable, the unclean, the unwanted and despised. Jesus is the very good news that he proclaims and his actions of healing, cleansing, releasing and forgiving point to the Kingdom that he brings.
Mission anticipates God’s redemption of all creation
The God who makes himself known in Christ does so out of love for the cosmos (John 3:16), for the whole of creation. The gospel is good news for all that God has declared to be good. Mission calls us into the right care and stewardship of the world God has made.
2. Our calling is to mission at the margins and at the cultural edges.
We are called to work in spaces (geographical or contextual) where Jesus is not followed.
We look beyond our comfort zone, where there is a healthy Christian presence, and we identify people in today’s world who are in other places or spaces without such a presence. These mission contexts can be geographical or cultural spaces, where the name of Jesus is rarely heard and where Christians struggle to be.
We want to call others in the body of Christ into these spaces.
We don’t leave the Church behind; instead we call it to its edges and encourage other members of the body of Christ to come with us and join us in God’s work of making new disciples.
Taking culture seriously leads to creative and imaginative mission methods.
We “come as a stranger with everything to learn again.” (John V Taylor)We listen and learn, not as heroes, but wondering what God will do. We work in partnership with local people to discern how best to translate the good news of Jesus across cultures and make new disciples.
Entering these spaces may come at some cost but brings the joy of obedience.
Joining in God’s mission is both costly and life-giving. It involves following Jesus to uncomfortable places: contexts that are unfamiliar and risky and where we might face misunderstanding, hostility and rejection. Yet Jesus is with us as we go on this journey of deeper discipleship and knowing we are not alone brings joy.
3. We are called to be good news as well as bring good news, so our message and behaviour have to match.
We are committed to a posture of humility, before God and in connecting with people in different mission contexts.
So much of mission is about listening and learning to God and each other.
We listen to and celebrate culture, and raise questions from an outside perspective.
We have a prophetic call to bring a fresh perspective, yet this must be rooted in a commitment to genuine relationship and an openness to being questioned or challenged ourselves.
We walk alongside and learn from those more familiar with context.
Mission is done through people. We engage in dynamic conversations, sharing ideas and learning together with our partners. Through these connections, we hope to enable communities to experience the good news in authentic, culturally appropriate and innovative ways.
We recognise that the nature of our relationships will change as we step back, enabling local leaders to take work forward.
We seek to raise up innovative mission practitioners and facilitate, support and empower them in contextually appropriate ways – be that through training or other resourcing – to lead sustainable mission movements.
4. We do mission in partnership, in community and in networks.
We have a priority to work with mission movements.
As CMS has developed over the years we have done so in partnership with churches, mission movements and other diverse groups of Christians in the UK and around the world. We have done so in the belief that God has called us into these relationships, as we connect with those who best know local contexts.
We are committed to mutual dependency at an institutional and programmatic level.
We are committed to engaging in partnerships of equals in our relationships with other organisations, receiving insight and challenge from our Christian sisters and brothers from around the world.
We recognise a calling to be prophetic in the church as a critical member and friend.
We want to help the church around the world to witness and minister in new spaces, and to encourage Christians to cross cultural boundaries for the sake of the Kingdom. We aspire to simultaneously be part of the church, to call the church together in mission, and re-imagine the future of the church.
We affirm our Anglican identity but work within the wider body of Christ.
Because of our roots in the Church of England evangelical revival, we have a particular relationship and responsibility to the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion. We relate within and beyond the Anglican Communion to catalyse mission. In some places our heritage is strongly connected to Anglicanism and in others it is not. We are committed to working ecumenically.