Many times our partners in local churches around the world tell us, it's not what you do, but how you do it that counts. Paul Thaxter, director of international mission for Church Mission Society, explains our approach.
Wherever we work, we work in partnership. We are part of a number of networks including the increasingly dynamic and collaborative CMS Mission Network (current members: Church Mission Society, CMS-Africa, Asia CMS, New Zealand CMS, CMS Australia, CMS Ireland).
A key part of our plan is to support the emergence of CMS-Africa and Asia CMS as sustainable regional mission movements. Asia CMS is committed to high quality mission training to reach the poorest of the poor in the heartlands of the religions, particularly within Asia, where the mission need is greatest. CMS-Africa is committed to empowering the body of Christ, the church, to be agents of community transformation both locally and globally.
Because of our rich and long history, we have many longstanding partner churches and organisations with whom we continue to work. But we also seek out emerging mission movements that take mission discipleship seriously and encourage them in their participation in both local and global mission.
Six focus areas
We are focused on six priority areas:
- Making disciples: by God’s grace, we want to see communities of people developing radical and authentic Christ-like lifestyles within their neighbourhoods
- Encouraging leaders: walking with local leaders worldwide and investing in their mission calls
- People at risk: working alongside people made vulnerable by unjust systems or circumstances to bring hope and a positive future
- Lasting economic change: it’s about dignity not dependency, encouraging entrepreneurship and generating income for generations to come
- Peace and reconciliation: motivating people in conflict to be reconciled and find peaceful ways forward
- Creation care: “For God so loved the world” – the planet and the people – and we want to join him in the renewal of both
Where we work
We are committed to work more and more in those places where the good news of Jesus is little shared and among the people most pushed to the edges of our world.
For instance, in Africa this may mean more neglected mission regions in traditional countries such as Tanzania, Kenya or Uganda or more emphasis on Francophone Africa such as Burundi, and DR Congo or the very important region of South Sudan and Sudan.
We take context more seriously than country: recognising that in very developed and/or Christian-majority countries there are still pockets of huge deprivation and places where people have not heard the good news of Jesus, or taken the challenge of demonstrating a radical Christian lifestyle.
All about people
Currently our people in mission work in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe – including the UK.
Church Mission Society is at heart a mission community – we have always been primarily about people, not projects.
Our People in Mission programmes seek to release people to live out the calling God has given them. There are long term mission partners, local partners – who are talented mission leaders from around the world, short term and gap year placements, as well as mission associates (who connect into the CMS network but are not placed or supported financially by us).
As a mission community, we believe God calls us to be people who are:
- Pioneering: we try new things, ask questions, cross boundaries
- Evangelistic: we share Jesus in word and action through his Holy Spirit
- Relational: we get alongside people, becoming a genuine part of the communities where we find ourselves
- Faithful: where others have left or given up, we remain committed for the long haul
The Five Marks of Mission
We endorse the Five Marks of Mission, an important statement on mission which expresses the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic mission.
The first mark of mission is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus’ own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). Instead of being just one (albeit the first) of five distinct activities, this should be the key statement about everything we do in mission.
The Five Marks of Mission are:
- to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- to teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- to respond to human need by loving service
- to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
- to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
The Venn Principles
John Venn, the man who asked the question "What can we ourselves do to spread the gospel?" that led to the founding of Church Mission Society, came up with some basic principles for mission. They have been paraphrased in different ways over the years but they still have a lot of wisdom in them:
- Follow God’s lead
- Put prayer first, money second
- Success depends on the quality of the people answering the call of God
- Begin humbly and on a small scale
- Rely on the Spirit of God
Ultimately, in all we do, we want to be a praying, pioneering mission community responding to God’s call.