Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Sent

So far in this series, I’ve covered the four habits of highly missional people─ using the acronym BELLS─from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!. These weekly habits include: Bless, Eat, Listen, and Learn. The final habit is to begin identifying yourself as a missionary ─ a Sent one. Frost encourages journaling to reflect how you either demonstrate or announce (describe it, explain it, advocate for it, champion it) God’s universal reign.  

Our English term mission (from Latin missio) means “to send; to be propelled outward”. In the past, this word has been used almost solely to describe someone who travels overseas to spread Christianity. Frost notes that in more recent years we’ve adopted the term to describe all Christians who attempt to glorify God in their daily lives. We are not all called to be evangelists, but if our mission is to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ, then all believers should see themselves as missionaries.

Trailers are tasters, short film versions of the soon-to-be-released feature, and they usually include the best special effects or the funniest scenes or the most romantic moments depending on the film of the upcoming feature. Now, watch those around you in the theater at the end of each trailer. If it has done its job, usually one person will turn to the other and say, “I want to see that movie.” This is a great metaphor for the missional church. If it does its job well, people will see what it does and say, “I want to see the world they come from.”

Michael Frost

So what does the reign of God look like? As believers, what exactly are we to point others toward? N.T. Wright proposes the following objectives. The way in which we carry out these objectives will vary, but the manner in which we speak and act always needs to be covered in God’s love and grace. Otherwise, we do more harm than good (1 Corinthians 13).

Reconciliation

Reconciliation between God and humankind is the foundation of Christ’s work on the cross. We see this concept woven into Scripture: reconciliation between slave and free, Gentile and Jew. We are instructed to announce reconciliation and demonstrate it. The more we write/journal on how we are agents of reconciliation, the more we will become aware and live it out.

Justice

Christians have a history of living out the Scriptural admonition to defend and uphold the well-being of all people, especially the powerless and poor. Past leaders have campaigned for prison reform, labor reform, the abolition of slavery, and the temperance movement. Leaders such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day, John Stott, and Jim Wallis have more recently committed to antipoverty, antiwar, environmental, and immigration causes.

Today, there are many ways we can demonstrate God’s reign through justice: fight homelessness, eliminate sex trafficking, promote fair-trade products, campaign for clean water, or some other specific cause. Many Christians in my church have fostered and/or adopted disadvantaged children. Whether signing an online petition, donating to a cause, or inviting a disadvantaged person into your home, begin journaling ways God has sent you to promote justice this week.  

Beauty

Where do you often feel closest to God? Is it inside a beautiful cathedral? Maybe music or art leaves you with a sense of wonder. Do you sense His presence in the mountains or on the beach? For me, being outdoors reminds me not only of God’s power and creativity, but also that He is the author of true beauty who wants to share His creation with me.

Rudolph Otto, a German theologian listed some responses associated with an awe-encounter with God: a sense of majesty, unapproachability, a feeling of fascination, including both fear and attraction. The feeling that we are important enough to be invited to encounter the Holy, but in its presence are overwhelmed and made aware of our smallness. We need these paradoxical frightening, yet comforting experiences that usher in God’s reign. Consider how you can invite your friends to encounter God’s beauty.

What are your gifts and abilities? Can you create beautiful music, art, craft and/or food and invite others to join you? How can we alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ by an observation of His creation and personally creating expressions of beauty? Remember to write it down.

Wholeness

Jesus healed the lame, the lepers, the blind, and the deaf─even raised the dead─as proof of God’s kingdom coming in glory (Luke 7:22). So wholeness, the healing of broken people, is key proof of His reign today. Beyond the important work of doctors, nurses, psychologists, and counselors, Christians also usher in God’s reign when they provide emergency relief for natural disasters and/or help repair a broken marriage. Is there someone you can pray for supernatural healing? When we see God’s restoration, record it as a reminder of His great work.

Weekly Challenge

  • Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
  • Learn – Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
  • Sent – Briefly journal throughout the week all the ways you alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ.

I wouldn’t be surprised if heavenly bells chime along with angelic chorus when we attempt even one of these following disciplines! Wishing you a wonderful week!

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Learn Jesus

What kind of living ushers in God’s reign by arousing curiosity among unbelievers, which lead to questions and faith sharing? How can we foster a set of habits that will help shape others’ beliefs and values?

BELLS is an acronym from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World! He gives practical steps to help us develop rhythm and accountability as we align ourselves to be more like Jesus while sharing His love and hope to those around us. These steps include: Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Holy Spirit, Learn Jesus, and Sent.

“Adoration” davidbowmanart.com

Learn Jesus

There are two main reasons Frost places emphasis on learning Jesus. First, there is the devotional value of growing close to Jesus. We sense His presence through His Word and learn to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings. God also enables us to become more Christ-like when we not only study Jesus’ teachings, but also increasingly submit ourselves to His will. The second, more missional reason to learn Jesus is our need to know Him if we’re going to effectively share Him as the reason for the hope in us.

Frost writes: When we’re living questionable lives, both the devotional and missional purposes for studying the Gospels intersect. I think that if we’re being sent into the world to live intriguing lives, arouse curiosity, and answer people’s inquiries about the hope we have within, we need more than ever to know what Jesus would do or say in any circumstance. And we can’t know that without a deep and ongoing study of the biographies of Jesus written by those who knew him best ─ the Gospels. . . . We need to be students of the whole Scripture, which includes understanding the Gospels in their total biblical context.

Frost also encourages us to go deep with others, in which he terms “Incarnational” Mission. While the term mission (from Latin missio) means “to be sent; to be propelled outward”, the term incarnational refers to another aspect of mission. It describes not simply going out, but also the difficult work of going deep with others. As God took on flesh and made His dwelling among us in Jesus, so we too are called to dwell among those to whom we’re sent. How are we to do this, unless we become devoted students of the life, work, and teaching of Jesus?

Frost suggests learning Christ through the following disciplines:

  1. Study the four canonical Gospels (without neglecting regular Bible devotional reading and/or Bible study.) You can read the Gospels in sections, or with the use of commentaries and/or devotions. Read, reread, and reread again Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  2. Read about Jesus. Your church might have a collection of reading material, including chapters from preferred books, articles, and blogs. My pastor recently recommended The Challenge of Jesus, Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright: “A rigorous historian and true academic, Wright will wash the insecure and pretend foundations of a folk fable version of Jesus right out from under you (me),” (Pastor Cliff Purcell).
  3. Further viewing: Explore a range of films to get a better sense of what the Gospels teach. According to Frost, Godspell and Jesus of Montreal aren’t technically films about Jesus himself, but beautifully capture different aspects of Jesus’ character and action.

Although we’re not all called to be evangelists, every Christian is called to live evangelistic lives and be prepared to give the answer for our hope.

Weekly Challenge

Including our previous challenges, here is one more for us this week: 🙂

  • Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
  • Learn – Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Bless

Last week I shared how God blessed my family by answering our prayer to send help when our boat engine decided to take a nap. In the midst of catching Kokanee, these people reeled in their lines before one man dove into the lake and secured a rope between our boats. Then they towed us for an hour back to the main dock. (You may read my story here: When God Winks.)

Do you recall a time when someone blessed you through an act of kindness? Did you wonder why that person took the time to put you first?

Knowing full well how serious most fishermen around here are when they find a great spot, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why would they set aside their successful Kokanee run just to give us a personal tow back to the dock? They could have pretended they didn’t see our boys rowing and let the next boaters who happened into our cove help out. They could have saved themselves precious time by flagging down the sheriff on patrol. But no, in the middle of their cherished recreation, they set aside their agenda and favored us as though we had been lifetime friends.

What a blessing! Although we didn’t ask why they helped us out, I couldn’t help but think, that’s exactly what Jesus would have done! What a shining example of what Christian living should look like! As Christians, our task is to surprise the world in a positive light. We may not all be called to be evangelists (2 Timothy 4:5, Ephesians 4:11) or missionaries overseas, but we are all called to pray and conduct ourselves in word and deed to provoke others to question their beliefs and engage in an evangelistic conversation.

In his book, Surprise the World!, Michael Frost writes: The trick is to develop habits that unite us together as believers, while also propelling us into the lives of others. We also need habitual practices that don’t deplete our energy and burn us out, but rather reenergize us, replenishing our reserves and connecting us more deeply to Jesus. I have seen these missional habits do just that:

BELLS – Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent

What kind of living ushers in God’s reign by arousing curiosity among unbelievers, which leads to questions and faith sharing? How can we foster a set of habits that will help shape others’ beliefs and values? The first habit of highly missional people is to intentionally bless others.

Generosity Challenge

Bless three people this week, one of whom is not a member of your church. We can do this in three ways: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of kindness, and/or 3) giving a gift. Do this and see if you won’t be blessed by being a blessing!

When God Winks

Wafts of fried chicken wet our appetites as we back our boat away from the dock. Can’t beat this weather, I think as I determine to make the most of our last family outing before our oldest son returns to college for his summer session.

This boat might be old, but it still has kick. The wind cools our skin as we zip across the lake to our own quiet cove, tucked away from other boaters. Eric, my husband, kills the engine and we dive into the bucket of chicken while taking in the blue sky and surrounding pine covered mountains. With three teenagers, it doesn’t take long to clean out our lunch.

“Who’s up for wakeboarding?” Eric asks as he turns the key.

Silence. Not from our kids – from our boat engine!

Maybe he needs to push the button on the throttle first? He tries a second time . . . and a third . . . still nothing, not even a click from the starter.  

Handing the oars to the boys and pointing, Eric lays out the plan: “We need to get past that point so we can flag down a boater for help.” The boys are good sports as they start to row. But we’re not the only ones enjoying the water today. Persistent boat waves from many boats on the lake prove to be a daunting challenge with our heavy boat. None of us voiced what we all knew to be true. It would take at least a couple of hours before anybody would see our dilemma because the closest boat is not very close.

“Maybe we should pray,” I offer. We bow our heads. “Lord, please bring another boater and/or a sheriff soon who can help us get back to the loading dock.”

I kid you not, maybe three or four minutes pass before a fishing boat rounds the corner. I signal them with our orange flag. “They’re heading our way!”

“We see you!” A lady yells. It’s not long before the boat with two couples are within 20 feet.

“How’s the fishing?” I ask, my attempt at small talk.

“It’s been great . . . catching lots of Kokanee,” the lady answers.

“Looks like you need a tow. Do you have a rope we can use?” The dark haired man (I’ll call Nick) asks. Well aware of disrupting their fishing, none of us were about to object to receiving a tow. So Eric throws him our rope as Nick assesses our boat. He secures one end of the rope to their boat. Without hesitation, he dives into the water and ties the other end to the lower tow hook on the bow of our boat. And without much more verbal exchange aside from saying “thank you so much”, we gratefully accept their help.

Back at the main dock, Nick declines our offer to pay him something, but tells us to repay the favor to the next person who needs a helping hand. I tell him that he and his friends are a speedy answer to our prayer— which was that God would send a boater and/or a sheriff.

“Well, I am a deputy sheriff in another county” he says with a big grin.

I think God must have been smiling, perhaps winking too. Not only did He remind us that He is closer to us than our heartbeats, but He also cares about every little detail of our lives. He may not answer every prayer that quickly. But He certainly hears our prayers and savors the time and attention we give Him.

Nick and his friends could have ignored us and kept on fishing. But instead, they dropped what they were doing, and helped us out. What an example and huge blessing! My challenge to myself, my family, and to you Dear Reader, is to be watchful and intentional on how we might bless others. Have a wonderful week!

Unique Opportunity: Reach North Korea With the Gospel

We starve, but it’s not food we want. We thirst, but not for water. We are sick and have no medicine but we know that only the Gospel can heal our people.”

With tears in her eyes, this is what one woman told FEBC President, Ed Cannon, from his recent travel to Asia to meet with a group of North Korean refugees.

Who is FEBC? Far East Broadcasting Company is an interdenominational ministry whose sole purpose is to share the Good News to the world through radio, the Internet, and emerging technologies. FEBC seeks to cooperate with and support existing missionary efforts and the ministry of the greater body of Christ worldwide, based on a common belief in the Bible as the infallible, authoritative Word of God.

What is the one message FEBC proclaims? “The truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.”

Where does FEBC minister? For 73 years, FEBC has been committed to reaching people in the most unreached places on earth. The 10-40 Window, a geographic area between lines of latitude 40 degrees and 10 degrees north of the equator, hosts 69 nations containing 4.65 billion people. This is where 90% of the world’s poorest people live; 95% of these people are unevangelized. The Christian minorities here are often heavily persecuted for their faith.

FEBC is committed to seizing the moment by boldly positioning all of their resources for God. Their broadcasts are heard in 113 languages and 49 countries around the world aired from 149 stations and transmitters, totaling 842 hours of programming a day/365 days a year. Last year alone, 2.6 million responses to the Gospel were made in response to their ministry. While these numbers are impressive stats, the reality is that these people are being transformed because of the hope they now have through Jesus Christ.

And now God has uniquely positioned FEBC to broadcast the Good News into one of the darkest, most hopeless place in the world: North Korea. President Ed Cannon writes: “With the help of friends like you, we are dramatically expanding our ministry through a powerful new radio tower in South Korea that will blanket the entire country of North Korea with the Gospel!”

The cost estimate of this radio tower is $320,000. Would you pray for this endeavor as well as prayerfully consider giving to this ministry? You may check out their ministry at their website: FEBC. Here is a link to donate toward the radio tower in North Korea: https://www.febc.org/north-korea. Thank you for your consideration!