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Over the holidays I met with two men who are connected with Forge Dallas. Their organization teaches people how to be missional in their neighborhoods. Forge International, which is the parent group, was formed by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. Frost has written a book entitled Surprise the World. This periodical encapsulates the basic premises of being missional using the acrostic BELLS. Each of the five components offer individual challenges for the participant.
Bless three people this week – at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
Frost states that to bless literally means to add strength to another’s arm. Blessing someone provides the effect of lifting one’s spirit or alleviating one’s distress. Those desiring to bless someone will offer a word of encouragement, perform an act of kindness or provide a gift.
Frost offers the following illustration from a doctoral thesis by Dave Ferguson: Blessers Versus Converters regarding this aspect of blessing. The researcher looked at two teams of short-term missionaries that visited Thailand. Each group had distinctly different missional strategies. The team referred to as the blessers went with the intention of simply blessing whomever came their way in whatever practical ways they could. The converters, on the other hand, went with the sole intention of converting people and evangelizing everyone they encountered. The research found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the blessers had far greater social impact, and were 50 times more successful at helping people find their way back to God. Frost’s point is to remind us of the eternal impact of blessing others.
Eat with three people this week – at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
Frost’s second strategy for being missional revolves around a basic event that happens every day – eating. He calls it a sacred practice when one chooses to engage in it with others. Frost speaks of it as “missional hospitality where one has an opportunity to extend the kingdom of God.” He further speaks of the fact that “eating was a key component of the early church” citing I Corinthians 11. He also cites the Lord’s Supper as support for this strategy. In Frost’s opinion, eating together helps to break down barriers between Christians and those far from God. It also helps people from different ethnic groups to learn about each other. In his opinion, building relationships through eating precedes conversation.
Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
Frost challenges each believer to begin the intentional practice of solitude and silence. He offers a word of indictment stating that “unless we can spend at least one significant period of time each week in the presence of the missional God, we are in danger of appearing no different than our frantic, harried and busy neighbors.”
In order to practice this habit, one must set aside a specific time, eliminate distractions, sit quietly and let God into one’s thoughts. As one listens, God may remind the listener of someone who needs to be contacted or the listener might be convicted of a personal sin they need to confess. His final comment reminds the participant that the more one practices listening, the more they will be able to recognize God’s voice.
Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
This habit will challenge the reader to once again take a specific time of the week to read through the gospels. Frost admits that this is not the only time one reads the Word. He challenges the reader to have a daily quiet time and to incorporate this additional reading time to be a time where one can “marinate their mind in the gospels.” This practice will remind the believer that Jesus is their hero, friend and king.
Journal throughout the week all the ways others were alerted to the universal reign of God through Christ.
The final habit is to begin identifying yourself as a missionary – a sent one. Individuals are challenged to journal with the intent of listing the ways that God has used them to be “God’s ambassador in the world.” For Frost, journaling forces the individual to take notice of the way God is using them to unfurl His reign in the world. It lets the believer know that they are making an impact upon their world.
In the closing chapters of Frost’s book, he challenges the reader to find two other people to meet with regularly. During these discussions, the participants will hold each other accountable for carrying out the components of blessing, eating, listening, learning, and sending. It is Frost’s contention that individuals that live in this way will be fulfilling their mission on the earth.