Tearfund is a Christian organisation and our faith is the foundation of our vision. We examine our work through a number of professional lenses – quality standards related to humanitarian and development work, financial accountability and transparency – to ensure that Tearfund is working to the highest possible standard. As a faith-based organisation it is equally important for us to apply the lens of theology.
About our theology
Jesus called and commissioned the church to participate in God’s mission to redeem and restore all of creation. In his ministry he shared God’s love through his words, his deeds and his character, and he sought to transform the lives of the people he met in whatever way they needed most. Sometimes this involved healing them, sometimes it involved feeding them and sometimes it involved talking to them about the things that were wrong in their lives. He valued and served the people he met in ways that enabled them to begin living a full life. Jesus’ life shows us what restored relationships and life in the kingdom of God will look like. His ministry shows us that mission is holistic or integral.
As Christians we are commissioned to take Jesus as our example and to ‘go and do likewise’ (Luke 10:37). As we join the body of Christ, we are transformed to be more like him and to do the things he did, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and this is seen in all areas of our lives. It is a prayerful and God-guided way of life that seeks to contribute to whole life transformation of the individuals and communities that we serve.
What does this mean for Tearfund’s work?
The Bible tells us that the body of Christ has many parts and that its members are called and gifted to participate in God’s mission in different ways. Tearfund was established to enable the church to respond to poverty and disaster and it is in this work we seek God’s justice, restoration and transformation. In all of our work we seek to discern how to share the good news of God’s love in ways that are sensitive to the realities of the places in which we we are working and the lives of the people we seek to serve.
Tearfund recognises that poverty is the result of a social and structural legacy of broken relationships with God, damaged understanding of self, unjust relationships between people, and exploitative relationships with the environment. Our theology of mission expresses Tearfund’s belief that God’s love is for everyone, and that the promise of the gospel is the hope of the restoration of these relationships at a human and cosmic level. This promise is offered to everyone, regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender, and Tearfund’s work follows this biblical principle as we seek whole life transformation for the people we serve. Our understanding of poverty describes the change we believe God wants to see in the world and explains how Tearfund and the church — as well as other parts of society — are a part of this transformation.
Resources on our theology
A short guide to mission (PDF 161 KB)
You can learn more about our theology of mission in this helpful short guide to mission.
Also available in French (PDF 156 KB), Spanish (PDF 154 KB) and Portuguese (PDF 164 KB)
‘What’s my part?’ - Finding your place in the mission of God (PDF 878 KB)
A series of Bible studies to help you explore this theology of mission in more depth.
Also available in French (PDF 876 KB), Spanish (PDF 820 KB) and Portuguese (PDF 777 KB)
Understanding poverty (PDF 732 KB)
This booklet presents Tearfund’s understanding of the causes of poverty. Learn about how and why we respond in the ways we do.
Integral, Inspirational and Influential (PDF 1.1 MB)
This report explores the role of the church in development.
Also available in French (PDF 1.1 MB)
Made in the Image of God (PDF 1.2 MB)
This collection of short essays explores the biblical idea of the Imago dei - the image of God - and helps us consider what impact this concept might have on some areas of Tearfund’s and our partners’ work. Each essay includes a few questions for you, your church or organisation to think about and discuss.
Further documents on the theology of integral mission are available from these websites: