To be “Missional” is all the rage these days. I am not knocking it. I believe it is a good thing. I would even identify as “Missional” I believe we need to live as missionaries in our own communities, recognizing we live in a Post-Christendom society.
What, however, does a “Missional” church do? Timothy Keller sketches an idea for us in Center Church.
6 Marks of a Missional Church
(1) A Missional Church must confront societies idols
Missional churches recognize those in our society are searching for happiness and self-actualization. Everything is about fulfilling our talents and our dreams. Others do not matter.
A Missional Church must be able to confront this idol. As well as they must be able to diagnose and confront other societal idols, if they want to free those in the community from bondage and make an impact for Christ.
(2) A Missional Church must contextualize skillfully and communicate in the vernacular
Missional churches recognize the need to understand their context so they spend time learning the cultural narrative. They know the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of their culture. As well as they understand the nuanced meanings certain concepts have in their culture.
Not only that, but they recognize concepts such as God, sin, and redemption may not mean what they think they mean to those they are trying to reach.
As a result, they spend time examining their cultures understanding of these concepts and gaining a deeper understanding of the gospel, so they might accurately present it to those they are trying to reach.
Since those in Post-Christendom usually have different ideas of God, sin, and redemption than those in Christendom, our most popular gospel presentations need to be adapted to the context and vernacular of the people. That is not to say, the gospel needs to be changed to match the cultural ideas. No matter the culture, the gospel must remain the gospel.
(3) A Missional Church must equip people in mission in every area of their lives.
Missional churches recognize the laity needs to be equipped to:
1. Be a verbal witness to those they know.
2. Love their neighbors and do justice within their neighborhoods and city.
3. Integrate their faith with their work in order to engage culture through their vocations.
As a result, a Missional Church finds ways to support its people outside its walls, whether that is at work, home, abroad, or in leisure activities.
(4) A Missional Church must be a servant community and counterculture for the common good.
Missional Churches present a strong alternative society in which sex and family, wealth and possessions, racial identity and power, are all used and practiced in godly and distinct ways.
Missional Churches also pour out their resources sacrificially for the common good of the city.
While they exist as a distinct counterculture, they situate themselves within society, so their neighbors can observe a separate but servant community.
(5) A Missional Church must itself be contextualized and should expect nonbelievers, inquirers, and seekers to be involved in most aspects of the church’s life and ministry.
Missional Churches know how to welcome doubters and graciously include them as much as possible in community so they can see the gospel fleshed out in life and process the gospel message through numerous personal interactions.
In order to make that happen, believers in the church must be contextual – that is, culturally like yet spiritually unlike the people in the surrounding neighborhood and culture.
A missional church, then, doesn’t depend on an evangelism program or department for outreach. Almost all parts of the church’s life are ready to respond to the presence of people who do not yet believe.
(6) A Missional Church must practice unity.
Missional Churches define themselves more by contrasting themselves with the world instead of other denominations. They seek unity across denominational lines when appropriate, showing the surrounding community Christ unifies instead of divides.
Question for Reflection
- What other marks of a Missional Church would you include?
Post adapted from Timothy Keller’s, Center Church, 271-74.