A series of Lenten Bible studies from the Biblical Association for the Church of Ireland (BACI) has been designed to foster a biblical approach to the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission. “As the Father sent me, so I send you” is a series of five Bible studies, each written by different people. The Five Marks of Mission were formulated in the Anglican Communion in 1984 and have been emphasised in the Church of Ireland in recent years. The five studies focus in turn on the Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, Treasure aspects of mission, moving from the teaching and pastoral care required after initial conversion to the wider social and environmental challenges of the Gospel.
They were written by the Revd Jack Kinkead, the Revd Lesley Robinson, Mr Philip McKinley, Canon Paul Houston and Mr David Ritchie, the province’s Chief Officer. The two Primates of Ireland, Michael Jackson and Richard Clarke, attended the launch of the Bible studies at Church House in Dublin last month.
The invitation to go an make disciples is not just an invitation to go and recruit members, but is “about affirming people who are already doing good and interesting and Godly things,” Archbishop Jackson said at the launch event. He drew out some of the nuggets contained in the Bible studies. Under the heading of Tell he said one of the important questions raised is how the Church of Ireland would cope with a plentiful harvest, a question he suggested that is not often asked. The Teach study highlights the importance of both instruction and modelling and looks at the holistic aspect of teaching.
The Tend study looks at the wider responsibility and individual commitment that need to come together and the concept of praying for and contributing to the flourishing of the city we are in. The study looks at pilgrims, refugees and migrants but also people who are moving through a consumer society and also looks at tending the self.
The Transform study makes a plea for Christian engagement in politics and the Archbishop said that Christians are encouraged not to sidestep the political world and also to seek ways of being in solidarity with others.
Archbishop Jackson said that the Treasure study looks at the connection between theology and ecology. “It is very important for us in the Church of Ireland to have this articulated by the Chief Officer,” he stated citing the chilling phrase used by Mr Ritchie that we are “chipping away at the goodness of the Earth”. He said the study highlights our theological responsibility but also the need for a reversal of expectations whereby we walk or cycle where we would formally have driven.
“Each of these studies draws in reflection, Scripture, commentary and prayer so as to comprehensively engage with the Five Marks of Mission. . . The Marks of Mission are not exclusive of each other. In doing one you might be doing two or three. Mission is exciting. It is also an intrinsic part of our relationship with our neighbour,” he concluded.
BACI’s Lent 2018 studies, “As the Father sent me, so I send you”, are available at £2.25 GBP or €2.50 Euro from larger cathedral bookshops in Ireland, or by post from the Book Well in Belfast. Copies can also be ordered by email from BACI’s treasurer, Barbara Bergin.