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Posts Tagged ‘missional’

Ring the BELLS

I recently finished two books in the missional genre. In this post I will share some brief thoughts about the first one, by veteran missional strategist and practitioner Michael Frost.

frost

I read his first book, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church (co-authored with another missional pioneer, Alan Hirsch), over a decade ago and recall highlighting sentence after sentence in agreement. Frost has written many other books since then (as has  Hirsch), and I decided to check this one out. I should briefly note that yes, “missional” is something of a buzzword, but I don’t think it’s a fad, and there is much we can learn from and put into practice.

The book’s subtitle sums up Frost’s aim: namely, to inculcate in his readers five missional habits, conveniently expressed by the acronym BELLS:

bells

The beauty of these habits is that they can easily be incorporated into the daily rhythms and routines of life. Frost acknowledges that most of us are not gifted as evangelists, BUT if “all believers are leading the kinds of lives that evoke questions from their friends, then opportunities for sharing faith abound, and chances for the gifted evangelists to boldly proclaim are increased. In brief, our task is to surprise the world!” From my own experience as well as observations of other Christians, I feel we are lacking in living intentionally and incarnationally. In my opinion, a large part of this stems from our modern (mis)conception of church. Nevertheless, we are all called to serve in our current context, and in this regard, Frost’s five habits are a welcome corrective to the insidious individualism of modern Christian spirituality.  Thus Frost wisely notes that

if our only habits as Christians are going to church and attending meetings, they’re not going to connect us with unbelievers nor invite their curiosity about our faith. The trick is to develop habits that unite us together as believers, while also propelling us into the lives of others.

This book should not be read in isolation, but is best read together with others, for example, in a fellowship group. Indeed, in a closing chapter, Frost proposes the DNA model to help in the formation of these habits: Discipleship, Nurture and Accountability. This invovles meeting with two other people each week to see how well we were able to “ring the BELLS” in our lives as we interacted with others. OK, I am going to need two comrades for this: anyone out there who wants to join up with me for this DNA thing?

Our church is about to start an Alpha session. While I have some reservations about Alpha, I wholeheartedly appreciate the opportunity to meet some unbelievers in a safe environment and will support this as much as I can. (I have been part of a group that hosted the Alpha program, so I do have firsthand experience with the program, and I would say that some of the concerns with Alpha are justified; nevertheless, God can and has used Alpha, so I don’t go out of my way to oppose it.) However, a complementary and more sustainable approach would be to have EVERY member of our church read Michael Frost’s affordable and accessible bookSurprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People (NavPress; 2015). By equipping everyone in our church to develop missional habits, we will be more open to and effective in reaching others with the Gospel. In short, Alpha is an event-centered approach whereas Frost is promoting a lifestyle-centered approach. Of course, the two approaches can complement one another, so I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to promote Frost’s book to the whole church. I mean, why not?!

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Let’s Get Missional

Very excited by these two books that I’m currently reading:

JR Woodward and Dan White, Jr., The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities (IVP; 2016)

Michael Frost, Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People (NavPress; 2015)

Will be reviewing them both in the New Year!

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Mission, Community, Worship

Michael Frost is a leading voice in the missional church movement and I really enjoyed reading Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church which he co-authored with Alan Hirsch. Both have since written many more books.

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