‘There are’ (writes J.A. Kirk) ‘a number of diverse, but intimately related, models or paradigms of mission. Each is vitally important. By stressing one more than the others, different groups of Christians have tended to see them as alternatives. Ideally, there is no choice. The Christian community’s vocation is to ensure that each is fully implemented in its overall life.
‘(1) The care of the environment. This means encouraging a wise and sustainable use of the natural order created by God, by engaging in the numerous aspects of conservation and the elimination of pollution. The church will point to the Creator’s gift of life, which implies there are sufficient resources for all to have enough, as long as a small minority renounces the ambition of an expanding consumerist lifestyle and learns to enjoy material goods in a restrained way. Only then will future generations inherit an earth restored to health, that is able to support fully everyone’s basic needs.
‘(2) Service among human beings without distinction and whatever their needs. This means a particular concern for vulnerable people, such as those economically excluded from society, the disabled, old people, the bereaved, children at risk and families in tension, refugees, the victims of drought and famine, bonded-labourers and those who suffer as the result of their misuse of alcohol, drugs and gambling. It has a particular responsibility to work in the rehabilitation of criminals. The church will fulfil its mission by helping to set up projects that will strengthen the ability of all to decide their own future, such as development schemes, micro-industries, literacy campaigns, health care, education and housing programmes. It will provide shelter for the victims of violence and offer rehabilitation programmes for those suffering from destructive lifestyles.
‘(3) Witness to ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’ (Eph. 4:21). This includes a number of tasks, like apologetics, personal evangelism and church planting. Bearing witness means both the verbal communication of the apostolic gospel and the visual demonstration of its power to bring new life and hope to human relationships and communities.
‘(4) The promotion of God’s justice and healing in society. To this end, Christians will challenge the damaging effects (including modern slavery) of present global economic forces, the corrosive effects of affluence (especially political corruption), the destructive fruits of poverty and any policy which serves the powerful rather than the powerless. In places of conflict and violence they are to be peace-makers. In particular, the church will be active in promoting and defending the integrity of family life against easy divorce, abortion, casual or abnormal sexual relationships, pornography, the exploitation of women and children, and experimentation on early human life. Finally, it will protest against the immoral arms trade between rich and poor nations.
‘(5) The practice of being a reconciled and liberated community. It is sent to demonstrate the reality of God’s unmerited grace by loving the enemy, practising forgiveness, sharing goods and resources, eliminating prejudice and supicion, and exercising power as servanthood, not as domination and control.’
New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, art. ‘Missiology’