The Church Exists for Mission

An Anglican Vision for the Decade of Evangelism

The Anglican vision of a Decade of Evangelism is not an ad hoc programme which we will soon get over with and then return to "normal Church life."

In point of fact, for us, normal Church life is one underpinned by a belief that the central import of our Lord's Great Commission is that the Church exists for mission. Thus any Church not committed to evangelism loses her identity as the Church of Jesus Christ and soon becomes a mission field for other religions.

Mission is a holistic venture

The Decade vision places no dichotomy between mission and evangelism. Rather it sees mission as a holistic venture in which the Church unites all her God-given resources -- spiritual, material and sacramental -- in a relentless struggle to bring harmony of life, healing and hope to a sick and confused humanity.

This mission includes five inseparable and equally essential aspects:

Proclamation

First, we must tell a world ruled by fear and battered by hatred, of God's immeasurable love and forgiveness as revealed in Jesus Christ. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes and the ability to believe, or saving faith, comes through hearing the word about Christ.

Demonstration

Second, those who proclaim the Good News must become that Good News in their context. This can sometimes mean costly sacrifice. Showing God's love to a world embittered by prejudice and violence can be a hazardous adventure. But it cost Jesus everything to bring us that love. The Church must therefore be willing to embrace the risks that are as a result of her mission in the world. Paul argues that there is something positively revolutionary about being a Christian. For, then the love of Christ controls us (2 Cor. 5:14).

Preservation

Third, is a serious effort by the Church to preserve the meaning and message of the Gospel in four vital areas of human life:

  • The Church must by words and actions remind humankind that there is a sacredness about God's creation which we ignore to our peril.

    Anticipation

    The Church by her proclamation and conduct must constantly remind the world that God's Good News has a futuristic aspect -- a message of enduring hope. Thus the vision of the Decade of Evangelism is fundamentally a vision of renewed faith in God's triumph in His world.

    Participation in Partnership

    Completion of world evangelisation or shifting the Church from a maintenance posture to a mission movement seem impossible challenges, but that vision can be realised if we can find the humility, love and faith to unite the material resources and historical experience of the Church in the North with the spiritual vibrancy and dedication of the Churches in the South, we have a formidable army.

    If this model of partnership is taken seriously, then the goal of the AD 2000 Movement could be realised. And in that case, the measure of the success and enduring value of the vision of the Decade of Evangelism would not be so much in terms of how many new "souls" we have won to our side, important as this my be, or how many compliant believers we have retained in the pews, but of how much we have been able to mobilise Christians into once again joyfully and courageously becoming God's Good News in their context, and how much the Church as a community of faith has learnt to become a sacramental expression of God's presence and activity in His world. In short, my vision for this Decade and beyond is for a revitalised Church which, in witness and communion, is a true sign of the Kingdom of God -- rooted in biblical faith, dynamic in mission and evangelism, creative and joyful in worship, caring in fellowship and committed to social transformation through transformed people.

    Cyril C. Okorocha
    Director for Mission and Evangelism
    Anglican Communion Secretariat, London