CMS (Church Mission Society), a UK-based mission agency working in partnership with churches in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, has officially announced major changes to the way it works with churches in Britain this week.
Established in 1799, CMS is a voluntary association of people rooted in the Anglican Communion who are united in obedience to Christ's command to fulfill his Great Commission. In the past 200 years, with a faith to proclaim the Gospel to every part of the world, a network has been built with 150 mission partners in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
However, the crisis the local UK churches face nowadays has triggered CMS to change its strategy and turn its sights back to the people of this nation. CMS has declared its determination to “invest significantly in the Church in Britain, bringing to the table its extensive global experience and networks.”
CMS explained the changes it proposes to bring to the culture of the churches, and within CMS itself. First of all, from the four latest reports, namely “Filling the Gaps”, “Mission in Post-Christian Europe”, “The Church in Britain & World Mission”and “Sudworth Report”, that were carried out by CMS over the past four years, CMS has witnessed massive changes in culture and in attitudes to faith in the UK which it needs to respond to.
Moreover, UK churches must awaken to see the need to move from maintenance to mission mode after the “Mission-Shaped Church” Report from the General Synod of the Church of England, in which two members of CMS staff were involved. CMS has sought to reframe its mission partnership with churches, particularly with the Church of England.
CMS itself experienced a recovery of the call to evangelistic mission on the ‘Vision to Share’ consultation series held during 1998. As a result, its commitment to reshaping local churches was further strengthened.
CMS believes that “global mission must always have a local expression, and local mission is always an expression of God’s global purposes”. The newly established Mission Movement team led by Canon Chris Neal will therefore focus on helping UK churches to move into a more missional way of working. At the same time, it will further enrich the existing global mission network and develop new forms.
The Mission Movement team will help create globally aware communities of mission through specific ministries:
- Global-Local Churches
Assisting churches to disciple and equip people for local mission within God’s global purpose
- Cross-Cultural Engagement And Encounter
Brokering opportunities that will enable mutual enrichment
- Missional Leadership
Identifying and equipping missional leaders
- Missional Cells
Creating cells of global missional Christians
- Emerging Generation
Building leadership for and amongst children and young people to create a generation of global Christians
- Gifted Speakers
Stimulating and releasing corporate and individual gifts for globally enriched mission in each locality
Meanwhile, CMS have not made up a concrete action proposal for its new direction. CMS plans to go through a period of consultation on this new mission strategy during October and November. It welcomes opinions from members, churches, bishops and diocesan officers, mission organizations, and local and national media. The full compliment of the new team is expected to be installed by January 2005.