Tim Keller on Mission

November 1, 2009


Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and The Prodigal God, wrote a short paper in 2001 called “The Missional Church” (view it here).  I thought Keller had some good thought on “the Elements of a Missional Church” and wanted to pass them on:

  1. Discourse in the vernacular
  2. Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel
  3. Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
  4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
  5. Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level.

(Again, for elaboration on each of these ideas, follow the link to the original paper)

Keller ends this short two page paper attempting to delineate how “missional” goes beyond “program”–a tension we are presently exploring in our own way here in Holland.  Here are his closing thoughts:

Case Study

Let me show you how this goes beyond any ‘program.’ These are elements that have to be present in every area of the church. So, for example, what makes a small group ‘missional’? A ‘missional’ small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific ‘evangelism’ program (though that is to be recommended) Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood, 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) 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.

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