The Five Marks of Mission (Useful or not?)

Following on from my diatribe about the word Missional the other week, here’s another thing.

Are the Five Marks of Mission which are so very often discussed in Anglican circles as useful as people presume?

Here I would have to say that I believe in them all. I think they are all lovely, vital, necessary and holy and all the rest.

However, the question that I find myself coming back to again and again is to ask whether the Five Marks of Mission somehow end up functioning as a buffer between good church people and any discussion of effective evangelism.

It seems to me that there might be other marks of mission. Like conversion, for example, of oneself and others. Or growth, maybe, of some kind or another.

Just wondering.

In case you don’t know, the Five Marks of Mission are held to be these:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

My hunch is that a tiny handful of the people in my home congregation would have heard about the five marks and maybe one or two would be able to name them.

Once again, can I state that I’m not disagreeing with any of them. It is just that, notwithstanding the usefulness of the Marks as some kind of checklist, I fear greatly the idea that people might think they are a descriptor of mission.

It would be good to hear testimony of souls being added to the kingdom by the naming of the five marks?


Anyone want to admit to sharing my questions?


  1. Rosemary Hannah says

    Well first tell me what mission means because I don’t think the marks have any idea.

    Is mission about drawing people into the sphere of God?

    Is it about being the body of Christ and doing his work in the world?

    Is it about drawing people into the church or the Church? If so, we then need to explain why we see church as worthwhile. (To enable people to do the two former perhaps.)

    The five marks are a horrible muddle of mixed motives.

  2. I would wholeheartedly agree that they can be a buffer, I would even go further and say they can even be a distraction to actual evangelism taking place.

  3. Melissa Holloway says

    . . . but perhaps they might look good on a bulletin board?

  4. They seem quite ‘good’ to me, but I think that perhaps the problem is that they need to be explained further. They’re basically just 5 generic statements, but there is no explanation of ‘how’ one is to go about doing those things.

  5. When I hear the word mission, I tend to tune out because I have only the fuzziest notion of what is being discussed. I’ve heard and read the 5 marks of mission many times, but, for some reason, they don’t stay with me. It seems to me if they were so very vital to my faith life, I would remember them. Yes, I agree with all of them, too, but what are we to DO?

  6. pauline dean says

    Thanks Kelvin, I too am very interested in mission, I am in agreement with the 5 marks of mission, but it is also much more than that. I think this is about seeing our world through God’s eyes, and finding out where God is working and joining him there, This can only be done by spending time with God, and much prayer. Mission is what God doing in our world, through his holy spirit in us, he uses us to fullfill his plans. May God bless you as you tour USA. Pauline Dean Leeds

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