Tim Keller identifies the following characteristics of a missional church. I’ve found them very helpful in encouraging groups to recognise what it means to engage with their neighbourhoods in a missional way.
A ‘missional’ small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific ‘evangelism’ programme (though that is to be recommended). Rather:
1. If its members love and talk positively about the city and neighbourhood.
2. If they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language.
3. If in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture.
4. If they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically.
5. If they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures.
6. If they do not bash other Christians and churches.
Then seekers and non-believing people from the city (a) will be invited and (b) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, ‘Christianized’ people.
1. How does your community measure up against these criteria?
2. If we find ourselves changing the language we use when unbelievers are present then we should probably change it all the time. Think about how you might talk about evangelism when unbelievers are present.
3. Tim Keller says the members of a missional community ‘love and talk positively about the city and neighbourhood’. List ten things you love about your neighbourhood.
 From Tim Keller, ‘The Missional Church’, June 2001.