16 September 2021
The Five Marks of Mission –
- 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 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 five marks of mission read well. I think few people would contest them or, at least, would find it difficult not to acknowledge that they all constitute part of what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ. But is everything there or are there omissions.
The most startling omission for me is that there is no specific reference to children and young people and the importance of nurturing their faith. Clearly, the aging membership of the Kirk has been largely due to our failure to pass on the faith to our children and grandchildren.
In his ‘Scottish Gods’, Steve Bruce assures us that those new churches which appear to attract a younger group of Christians suffer from the same flaw. They diminish over time because they too haven’t learned the secret of passing on the faith to their children.
There is so much talk abroad about engaging with the anonymous other. It seems paradoxical when you think that there are so many named people within our family circle who have not espoused the faith. Why is this? Can we learn the secret which will unlock our present predicament?
From personal experience working with young people in four charges, I know it to be true that when a congregation works with young people it works with all generations. The converse is not true. This has been validated by the sociologists. Jesus’ teaching and Isaiah’s prophecy is true. ‘A little child will lead them.’ into the Kingdom of God.