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Five Marks of Mission: History, Theology, Critique

  • Jesse Zink


In recent years the Five Marks of Mission have become the latest in a long series of mission ‘slogans’ in the Anglican Communion, but little attention has been paid to their origin or theological presuppositions. This paper traces the development of an Anglican definition of mission from the 1984 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, at which a four-fold definition was first put forth, to the present use of the Five Marks of Mission across many parts of the Communion. The strong influence of evangelical mission thinking on this definition is demonstrated, as is the contributions from African Anglican bishops. Anglican mission thinking has shifted from emphasizing pragmatism and coordination to providing a vision for the Communion to live into. Mission thinking has been a site of genuine cross-cultural interchange among Anglicans from diverse backgrounds.


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The Revd Dr Jesse Zink is Director of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide in Cambridge, UK.



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2. Anglican Communion Office, ‘Marks of Mission’, available at: (accessed 30 May 2016).

3. Zink, Jesse, ‘Changing World, Changing Church: Stephen Bayne and “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence”’, Anglican Theological Review 93.2 (2011), pp. 243-262 .

4. Bayne, Stephen F. Jr (ed.), Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, with Related Background Documents (New York: Seabury Press, 1963), pp. 17-24 .

5. The Time Is Now: Anglican Consultative Council, First Meeting, Limuru, Kenya, 23 February to 5 March 1971 (London: SPCK, 1971), p. 47.

6. Partners in Mission: Anglican Consultative Council, Second Meeting, Dublin, Ireland, 17–27 July 1973 (London: SPCK, 1973), p. 54.

7. Partners in Mission, p. 56.

8. Quoted in Nichols, Alan, Equal Partners: Issues of Mission and Partnership in the Anglican World: Popular Report of the Mission Agencies Conference Brisbane, Australia, December 1986 (Sydney: Anglican Information Office, 1987), p. 48 .

9. The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978 (London: CIO Publishing, 1978), p. 42.

10. The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978, p. 56.

11. Stanley, Brian, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2013), pp. 151-180 .

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13. ‘Transformation: The Church in Response to Human Need: The Wheaton ’83 Statement’, in Samuel, Vinay and Sugden, Christopher (eds.), The Church in Response to Human Need (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2003 ; originally published by Eerdmans, 1987), paras. 11, 13, pp. 254-65 (257).

14. ‘Transformation: The Church in Response to Human Need’, para. 3, p. 256.

15. ‘Transformation: The Church in Response to Human Need’, para. 27, p. 260.

16. Gitari, David, ‘Evangelisation and Culture: Primary Evangelism in Northern Kenya’, in Vinay Samuel and Albrecht Hauser (eds.), Proclaiming Christ in Christ’s Way: Studies in Integral Evangelism: Essays presented to Walter Arnold on the occasion of his 60th birthday (Oxford: Regnum Books, 1989), pp. 101-21 (113).

17. Gitari, David, ‘The Mission of the Church in East Africa’, in Philip Turner and Frank Sugeno (eds.), Crossroads Are for Meeting: Essays on the Mission and Common Life of the Church in a Global Society (Sewanee: SPCK/USA, 1986), pp. 25-42 (37).

18. Quoted in Emenyonu, Ernest N., A Good Shepherd: A Biography of the Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin C. Nwankiti (San Francisco: African Heritage Press, 2003), p. 93 .

19. Nwankiti, Benjamin, ‘Presidential Address, delivered at the Third Session of the Eighth Synod of the Diocese of Owerri on Monday, July 27 1981 in St. Peter’s Church Arondizuogu’ (Owerri: Diocesan Press, 1981), p. 18 .

20. Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Group, Giving Mission its Proper Place (London: ACC, 1984), p. 12 .

21. Bonds of Affection: Proceedings of ACC-6, Badagry, Nigeria, 1984 (London: ACC, 1984), p. 59.

22. Bonds of Affection, pp. 57-58.

23. Bonds of Affection, p. 49.

24. Gitari, David, Troubled but not Destroyed (McLean, VA: Isaac Publishing, 2014), p. 161 .

25. Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl A., The Heart of a Pastor: A Life of Edmond Lee Browning (Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement, 2010), p. 79 . The personal papers of Bishop Browning are insufficiently catalogued in the Archives of the Episcopal Church to allow for consultation and so I have been unable to ascertain whether this collection might offer a further perspective on this and a later ACC meeting.

26. Ronald Bowlby, telephonic interview by Jesse Zink, 9 February 2016.

27. Bonds of Affection, pp. 60-61.

28. Robert Runcie, ‘Foreword’, in Crossroads Are for Meeting, p. ix.

29. Progress in Partnership: Report of the Mission Agencies’ Conference, 8–13 December 1986, Brisbane, Australia (London: ACC, 1987), p. 24.

30. ACC, The Truth Shall Make You Free: The Lambeth Conference 1988: The Reports, Resolutions & Pastoral Letters from the Bishops (London: Church House Publishing, 1988), p. 327.

31. Walter Asbil, letter to Jesse Zink, 12 February 2016.

32. Wilson, Frederick R. (ed.), The San Antonio Report: Your Will Be Done: Mission in Christ’s Way (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1990), p. 54 .

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34. Mission in a Broken World, p. 101.

35. Mission in a Broken World, p. 104.

36. Walter Asbil, letter to Jesse Zink, 12 February 2016.

37. Mission in a Broken World, pp. 109-10.

38. Hodgson, Janet, ‘Decade of Transformation: Proclaiming, Celebrating and Following as the Paradigm of Change in People, Church and Society’, in Colin Craston (ed.), By Word and Deed: Sharing the Good News through Mission (London: Church House Publishing, 1992), pp. 14-32 (14-16).

39. Neves, Jubal, ‘Evangelism in a Context of Poverty, Political and Social Instability: A Witness from Latin America’, in The Cutting Edge of Mission: The Report of G-CODE 2000: Global Conference on Dynamic Evangelism beyond 2000: Mid-Point Review of the Decade of Evangelism (London: Anglican Communion Publications, 1996), pp. 46-51 (50).

40. Graham Miller, ‘New Zealand’, in The Cutting Edge of Mission, pp. 109-10 (109).

41. Ross, Cathy, ‘Mission’, in Mark D. Chapman, Sathianathan Clarke, and Martyn Percy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Anglican Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 504-516 (505).

42. MISAG II, ‘Towards Dynamic Mission: Renewing the Church for Mission’, pp. 16-18; (accessed 15 June 2016).

43. The Board of Mission of the General Synod of the Church of England, A Growing Partnership: The Church of England and World Mission: The Report of a Working Group to the Board of Mission on the Church of England’s Structures and Relationships in World Mission (London: Board of Mission, 1994), pp. 8, 9.

44. General Synod of the Church of England, Report of Proceedings 25.3 (1994), p. 786.

45. General Synod of the Church of England, Report of Proceedings 27.1 (1996), p. 208.

46. General Synod of the Church of England, Report of Proceedings 27.1 (1996): pp. 208-209.

47. Paul Brett, telephonic interview by Jesse Zink, 16 February 2016.

48. Anglicans in Mission: A Transforming Journey: Report of MISSIO, the Mission Commission of the Anglican Communion, to the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, September 1999 (ed. Eleanor Johnson and John Clark; London: SPCK, 2000), p. 19.

49. Anglicans in Mission, pp. 19-20; Mike McCoy, ‘Going in Peace, or Breaking in Pieces? Anglican Unity and the Mission of God’, InterMission 4.1 (1998), pp. 22-33.

50. Anglicans in Mission, p. 20.

51. Anglicans in Mission, p. 21; McCoy, ‘Going in Peace, or Breaking in Pieces?’ pp. 32-33.

52. Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism, Communion in Mission: Final Report to ACC-13 2005 (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2006), pp. 21-40.

53. Price, Janice, World-Shaped Mission: Exploring New Frameworks for the Church of England in World Mission (London: Church House Publishing, 2012), p. 85 .

54. Presler, Titus, Horizons of Mission (Boston: Cowley, 2001), p. 156 .

55. Kafwanka, John, ‘The Five Marks of Mission and the Anglican Communion’, in Cathy Ross (ed.), Life-Widening Mission: Global Perspectives from the Anglican Communion (Oxford: Regnum, 2012), pp. 143-52 (145).

56. 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Resolutions D-027 and D-019.

57. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Gathering at God’s Table: The Five Marks of Mission in the Feast of Faith (London: SPCK, 2012). ‘Presiding Bishop’s Budget Proposal, 2013-2015’, available at: (accessed 13 June 2016).

58. ‘The Five Marks of Mission: A Checklist for Mission’, available at: (accessed 13 June 2016). The Facebook quiz has now sadly been taken off-line.

59. Katharine Jefferts Schori, ‘5 Marks of Mission’ (Forward Movement 2172, 2013).

60. Resolution 15.34 in Transforming Communities: The Official Report of the Fifteenth Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, Auckland, New Zealand, 2012 (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2014), p. 89.

61. Cameron, Gregory K., ‘A Tortoise in a Hurry: The Ordering of the Anglican Communion’, International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 8.2 (2008), pp. 69-80 (73).

62. Cathy Ross, ‘Mission’, p. 514.

63. Price, World-Shaped Mission, p. 11.

64. Anglican Communion Office, ‘Marks of Mission’.

65. Anglican Communion Office, ‘Marks of Mission’.

66. The Official Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998 (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1998), p. 391.

67. The Virginia Report: The Report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), pp. 10-13.

1. The Revd Dr Jesse Zink is Director of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide in Cambridge, UK.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
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