Mission is… survey results

A survey carried out by Church Mission Society to uncover the nation’s attitude to mission has found that nine out of ten Christians say they believe “everyone is called to mission” and the job of spreading God’s message should not be left to ‘professional’ Christians like vicars and full time Christian workers.

Asked for one word to describe mission, 44 per cent of people responded “evangelist”, a strong indication that most Christians still equate mission as directly sharing the gospel message with others. However, despite the willingness and propensity of Christians to be involved in mission, the survey showed Christians are being held back from getting involved in mission by fear [27%] or a lack of training and preparation [17%].

Philip Mounstephen, executive leader of Church Mission Society said: “Most Christians know mission is for them and have a clear sense that it embraces all of life. But while many people have a strong sense of call, just as many struggle with it, and know they need help. Churches and mission agencies must work together to set Christians free from the fear and uncertainty preventing them getting involved, and equip the 90 per cent of Christians who believe that mission is their calling.”

The survey, which is part of CMS’s Mission Is campaign, seeks to ascertain the attitudes of British Christians towards mission and renew people’s confidence in mission. Over the summer more than 2,000 people took part in the survey at events such as Big Church Day Out, New Wine and Greenbelt, as well as online through the CMS website.

When asked to describe ‘mission’, Christians naturally related it with the work of an evangelist, but were quick to recognise that mission also takes place outside the church on local housing estates [13%], in the workplace [8%] and the environment [7%]. Mission Is campaign manager Thomas Fowler observed, “Beneath the stereotypes there’s a much more rounded, holistic idea of what mission is, demonstrating both its spirituality and practicality.”

The overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they believed that mission was still relevant in today’s world and should not be discarded as a relic of colonialism. Respondents demonstrated a rounded and holistic view of mission describing it as both local and global, church related and socially orientated, as well as being a calling for life.

Fifty per cent of Christians questioned said they were putting their call to mission into action, however, 46 per cent of those surveyed either don’t know what their call is, or are having trouble exercising it. And when asked about what held them back from being more involved in mission, 49 per cent said they wanted help to broaden their perspective of mission and stretch their thinking, while another 27 per cent said they were confused and need help figuring out their calling.  

Philip Mounstephen concluded: “There is a significant task ahead for Church Mission Society and other mission leaders. We must prioritise mission and provide the necessary leadership, clarity and focus, in order to set Christians free to pursue their calling.”

Mounstephen added: “Overall, this survey shows British Christians to be balanced, nuanced and knowledgeable in their understanding that ‘mission’ needs to stretch beyond the walls of the church. Christians want to be part of God’s mission and given the support and opportunity, they will take up the challenge.”

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