Yesterday I gave some descriptors of what a MSC (Missional Small Community) is not. For instance, it is not centered on a room or a time-slot on Sunday mornings. A MSC does not have "welcoming guests" as its primary form of outreach. We also discussed that the word "missional" is not the same thing as "missions". If outsourcing, or paying other people is your primary way to accomplish evangelism, then you are probably not a missional small community (unless you are homebound, which a few people are).
So what are some descriptors or some keys for you to look for in your small group or Sunday School community that indicates that your group is missional?
Start with prayer. This is one of the key indicators. Does your class pray "around the world" prayers, the kind of prayer where we ask God to save everyone everywhere, bless the little children, etc. Of course, you are undoubtedly familiar with organ recitals, where we pray for the healing of Larry's liver, Bill's bunion, and Harry's heart. A gathering of missional people will pray for their lost friends and neighbors by name. They will pray for opportunities to make relationships and share the gospel.
Shared experiences of God's presence. When a missional small community does gather, people share about God's activity in their lives the past few days. It may be something they learned about God in a morning meditation, an answered prayer that only God could have done, a redeemed relationship with a family member or friend, or the recognition that someone they know is moving closer to a relationship with Christ. Someone in the group may share how they applied the previous week's Bible study and what the results were.
Sense of identity. This is more than just identifying with a group, but it is more of a sense of movement. A MSC is working together as part of the greatest rescue mission on the planet – the rescue mission of Jesus Christ to bring every person into a knowing relationship with Him (Colossians 1:13). Their identity is not in themselves, but beyond themselves. A missional small community has its identity in Jesus Christ, not as Young Adult 2 or the Smith & Jones Home Group. In reality, when a group has its identity in Christ, suddenly things like starting new groups to reach and disciple more people makes sense. A group whose identity is in Christ loses selfishness and turns from being a group that collects people into a group that is sending people. A group whose identity is in itself well automatically become self-centered and will work to protect its identity – and therefore not start new groups or send its group members to mission fields that are either down the hallway, down the street, or across the world. MSC's know that the word mission means "send".
Community impact. Ultimately, a missional small community will begin to have an impact on its community. Friends and neighbors who have been cared for, prayed for, and involved in the group will move into a relationship with Jesus Christ. If a MSC is part of God's rescue effort, then that effort should ultimately begin to see results. This kind of community impact can only happen when the group lives out its faith individually in such a way that their friends and neighbors recognize there is something different about them. MSCs impact their community by understanding who their neighbors are, their backgrounds, and their lifestyles; and then share the gospel in such a way that it can best be received by their friends.
I'm sure that there are other key ingredients of a missional small community, but perhaps this will serve as a good starting point for more discussion so that we are focusing on have small groups that honor Christ, make disciples, and have impact in their communities.