Back to results

Conference 2008 - Section B: Mission and Evangelism

21.  In Christ Jesus, God has revealed himself as the self-giving Lord of Creation, full of compassion and mercy[9].  That same Son who was sent by the Father into the world, in turn sent forth his disciples, instructing them to proclaim the good news, making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit[10].  For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself[11].  It is therefore God’s mission in which we share. 

22.  Mission belongs to God and we are called to engage in this mission so that God’s will of salvation for all may be fulfilled.   In this sense, mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God.  The Church exists as an instrument for that mission.  There is church because there is mission, and not vice versa.  To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is the fountain of sending love.

23.  As Anglicans, we value the “five marks of mission”, which begin with the preaching of the Gospel and the call to personal conversion, but which embrace the whole of life: we would wish to see increased emphasis on ecumenism, peace-making and global mutuality as integral parts of God’s mission. Mission is a rich and diverse pattern faithful to the proclamation of the Reign of God in Christ Jesus; a proclamation which touches all areas of life.

The Local Church

24.  In our study together, we were asked in our indaba groups to consider the question, How in very different contexts can bishops learn and support one another so as to be better equipped in their role as leaders in God’s Mission?   For Anglicans, the diocese is the basic unit of the Church; it is on this front line that we must be most effectively engaged in mission.  Our reflection on the current status of mission and evangelism in our dioceses involved the sharing of stories, a critique of the present situation and expressions of hope in relation to the concerns that were highlighted.

25.  We affirm that evangelism concerns the making of disciples and spiritual growth.  This must involve a personal encounter with the risen Christ and a commitment to discipleship.  Evangelism is the cutting edge of mission in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour by word and deed.  The Gospel is the life blood of the Church and involves mediating by proclamation, by word, and by action the good news of God’s love in Christ which transforms the whole of life.  There must also be a compassionate community, the enabling of others by the leadership of the Church, and the marginalized must be kept in focus.

26.  We affirm that we minister to the whole community, including young and old.  The history of Anglicanism has been characterized by a tradition of pastoral care which has centred around the care of persons through the various transitions in the life cycle.  Of particular concern has been the ministry to the sick and housebound as well as the dying.  In the indaba process there was expressed a particular concern for children and young people in the life of the Church. At the same time, it was acknowledged that many of the attempts to engage young people have been ineffective. Some models and understandings of young people are outdated.  There is need for a greater effort to find fresh expressions of ministry with and to young people, and a sense of zeal and passion for their inclusion in the life of the church.  There is also a recognition of the fact that young people are not only an integral part of the life of the Church, but, with their idealism, enthusiasm and creativity, can also make a positive contribution to the evangelistic work of the Church.  We have been privileged to have the ministry of young people at this conference as stewards and rapporteurs, welcoming their contribution, passion and enthusiasm for the Gospel.

27.  While in some contexts in the developing world, young people make up the majority of society, in many other contexts there is a preponderance of older persons in the composition of congregations: this is not to be seen merely as a source of despair.  In addition to the fact that with improved living standards in some parts of the world this population is living longer and have many creative years ahead of them even in retirement.  The elderly are in many instances an untapped resource for participation in the mission of the Church.  It is this age group which often has the greatest concentration of resources, availability of time, experience, and a focussed religious commitment.  This conference has also been supported by the ministry of older persons who served as stewards and hospitality personnel with distinction for the duration of the conference.

28.  We affirm that the good news proclaimed in Christ is especially addressed to the poor and to the outcasts, to those on the fringes of our societies and to the dispossessed.  In situations where there are immigrants, refugees and displaced persons, the Church often is the first to respond helpfully, but there is need to develop better Communion/Partnership networks for more effective ministry to this group.  The Church needs to be watchful of the migration policies of governments.  The need to welcome immigrants and those in the urban drift was expressed.  It was also noted that evangelism to this population is often a hit-and-run process without evident signs of results.  There are many settings in which the Church is actively involved in work among persons with HIV and AIDS.  It was noted, however, that the Church needs to be more involved in advocacy, awareness building, pastoral care, and the provision of health care facilities for those affected.

29.  We affirm that the good news should continue to be proclaimed in all circumstances in the joy of the Lord.  It is particularly important that the Church seeks to minister in situations of need, of destruction and natural disaster.  Stories of annual devastating natural disasters in Tanzania were shared along with positive accounts of the continuing ministry with signs of growth in that context.  Demographics and economic decline were identified as factors in some situations.  Growth and decline will co-exist in places.  The needs which confront the church are many but in many places, there is inadequate income for undertaking the mission of the church. Note was taken of the sheer poverty of some areas of the Anglican Communion, and yet the Church continues to minister and be a sign of hope.  Rural depopulation in some other areas was also noted and the church’s continuing ministry in these settings affirmed.

30.  We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is the proclamation of a whole way of life – a vocation to personal holiness.  As it is said, action speaks louder than words, personal holiness is vital in the proclamation of the gospel.  The post-modern society has been characterized by scientific and technological developments which have seen the world become a global village.  These advances have also contributed to the transformation of human society.  At the same time it was observed that the cultural values of post-modern societies, especially their focus on individualism and relativity challenge the teachings of Christianity, which is decidedly counter-cultural.  The call to holiness of living becomes a greater challenge in this milieu. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God- Romans 12:2.

31. We affirm that the Church is called to be faithful in the exercise of its mission in the context within which it is located with due regard to culture. We acknowledge that in its understanding of the exercise of this responsibility what may be positive, acceptable and fitting in one culture, may be negative, harmful and may affect the witness and proclamation of the gospel in other parts of the Communion due to cultural differences. The Bible must be taken as authoritative guiding principle in our proclamation of the gospel.[12]

Provincial Life and its Contribution to Mission

32.  Our dioceses are bound together as national or regional Churches, also known as Provinces.  In some special situations there are units known as Extra-Provincial jurisdictions which lack the structure and independence of Provinces and are subject to special Episcopal oversight as in the case of the Falkland Islands.  There are six such extra-provincial jurisdictions within the Communion.  We affirm the value of our Provincial structures, by which the life of the local Church is nurtured and sustained.   The mission work of dioceses would be made more effective through links and partnerships at the Provincial level which enable the sharing of information, resources, policies, stories, best practices, personnel, education and training programmes.  This must include a process by which there is a change from a church culture of maintenance at the local level through fostering a focus on mission; Provinces must encourage local evangelical initiatives and help them to celebrate their gifts and share their stories.  Provincial resourcing for mission and evangelism is one of the prime tasks of the national or regional Church, across a broad range of engagement:

33. Education and Training.  We affirm the central role of the Provinces in the facilitation of education and training especially in ministerial, theological, and pastoral disciplines for the bishops, clergy and the whole people of God, thereby equipping them for leadership in the various areas of mission and evangelism.  Youth must receive due consideration in this thrust. The promotion and enabling of creative thinking and the provision of personnel to help drive mission initiatives must be a major consideration

34. Resources facilitation.  We acknowledge the limitations which some parts of the Communion face with regard to the availability of adequate resources.  One way in which the provinces can facilitate the dioceses is through the provision of a resource centre with the financial support for mission initiatives. Such a resource centre would enable responses to various disasters which arise from time to time.

35.  Sector Ministry.  The Province can facilitate and empower specific ministries which transcend the normal parish structures.  Chaplaincies to the armed forces, hospitals, prisons, schools, and universities all enhance the witness of the Church and allow the development of specialist ministries which are tailored to the needs and perspectives of the groups with which they work.

36.  Structural and Organizational Concerns  We affirm that there is need for the review of the bureaucracy of provinces in order to facilitate more effective communication and efficiency. There is need to strengthen the sense of collegiality and the building of trust and accountability between dioceses, the assumption of some appellate function as a way of adjudicating issues which may arise, and ensuring that decisions and actions are taken at the appropriate level.  (Be a clearinghouse for ideas and innovations coming from dioceses.)

37.  Programmatic concerns.  We acknowledge that in the exercise of its prophetic voice the Church needs to address issues of human rights, the environment, migrant workers, HIV and AIDS, reconciliation and truth in ecclesiastical and civil concerns, and fair-trade practices among the nations etc.  In the exercise of its mission the Church needs to maintain a focus on community based services, social and medical services, and partnership with NGOs or international organizations, ministry to prisoners etc.  In the exercise of mission ecumenical sharing and networking for partnership in ministry should be actively pursued.  Provinces should initiate and promote programmes that would expose Anglicans, especially youth, to the Communion through mutual mission trips.

 

Mission and the Anglican Communion

38.  We also celebrate our interdependent life in the Anglican Communion, as national and regional Churches are brought into co-operation for the good of the Gospel.  There is a need for renewal and changes at the level of the Communion in order to facilitate our unity and more effective coordination and exercise of mission at the provincial, diocesan and congregational levels.

39.  Coordinating functions:  We affirm the Instruments of the Anglican Communion to be the appropriate bodies for providing the overarching symbols and resources which are translated into local contexts. The exercise of this function includes the sharing of experiences, policies, resources, appropriate training, education in core theological areas, and enable leadership in the exercise of mission, interfaith relationships, the identification of financial resources, and ecumenical partnerships.

40.  Recognizing the importance of electronic technology in today’s global environment there is then the prospect of use of technology such as the website and other media, for the creation of multimedia resources for use in the dioceses and provinces (e.g. DVDs of Lambeth Conference, an introduction to Anglican Christianity, and an Anglican “state of the Communion address” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the development of  the Anglican Cycle of Prayer to include specific requests for prayer/mission and ministry in dioceses;

41.  Structural and Organizational  We affirm that the Instruments of Communion need to provide the ecclesial authority that interprets what is Anglicanism; provide clarification on the nature of the Communion; enable and channel worldwide emergency responses; strengthen advocacy, stand in solidarity with those facing persecution, injustice and whose voice is silenced, and those Provinces/Dioceses encountering difficulties in the exercise of mission, and provide active support for peacemaking initiatives; assist in resolving internal problems and facilitate linkages and partnerships, (companion dioceses) and the flow of information within the Communion; support those who are isolated in their dioceses because of conscientious objections to actions taken by their dioceses of provinces; and promote regional or Cluster meetings within the Communion between Lambeth Conferences.

 

42.  Programmatic concerns  We acknowledge the growth of the Church in areas of the southern hemisphere and the many fresh expressions of church in the whole Communion. At the same time we are called as a Communion to develop a worldwide vision and strategy of church planting, growth, and mission.  While we encourage these strategies we must be conscious of those diocese and provinces which are yet to achieve self-sufficiency and respond in appropriate ways to address the areas of need.

Resources

The Five Marks of Mission:
to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God;
to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; 
to respond to human need by loving service; 
to seek to transform unjust structures of society; and
to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth.

A story about the plenary address of Brian McLaren may be found at:
http://www.lambethconference.org/daily/news.cfm/2008/7/22/ACNS4453
This address is not yet online.
The plenary address of Cardinal Ivan Dias may be found at: 
http://www.lambethconference.org/daily/news.cfm/2008/7/23/ACNS4458

We acknowledge and affirm the outstanding work that has been done over the years by MISAG (Mission Initiative and Strategy Advisory Group), MISSIO (Mission Commission of the Anglican Communion.) and IASCOME (Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism) and their contribution to the understanding of the mission imperatives of the Communion.

Initiatives

The development of a Lambeth Directory and the expansion of the Anglican Communion website to allow the sharing of theological thinking, mission ideas, partnerships etc.  The Communion must recognize the individual Provinces as self-determining Provinces that walk together for strength.  At the same time the Communion must help the Provinces, Dioceses and local churches to recognize the value of the gifts they bring to the whole Communion. One way of accomplishing this is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to endorse and lend his sponsorship (not necessarily do and pay for) initiatives that are designed for youth and young adults.

  • The Communion could prepare a Bishop’s Introductory Pack which would provide information about what resources and information are available throughout the Communion, including contacts, networks, commissions, etc.  The current cycle of Lambeth meetings every 10 years is deemed inadequate.  Perhaps there could be a meeting of a representative group every 3 years.

Notes:

9. James 5.11

10. Matthew 28.19

11. 2 Corinthians 5.19

12. 2 Timothy 3:16

Filter Documents