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 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.


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.  


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.


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.


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: Listen

Taken from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, the third habit of highly missional people is to listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16

For Christians, the Holy Spirit is our constant friend and endless supply of strength and guidance. Without Him, we are subject to get off course and falter in sin. We need to set apart time to stop talking, quiet our hearts, and ask Him to speak to us. This is no small task in the busy culture we live in, especially for the extroverts among us. But we need to listen to God’s voice, especially if we want to be instruments of His love and peace. Otherwise, how are we going to be salt and light if we are hurried and harried like so many around us?  

The Holy Spirit will never instruct against God’s Word. He often gives us understanding and/or a realization through His still small voice.

Bruce Demarest (Satisfy Your Soul) writes: A quieted heart is our best preparation for all this work of God. . . . Meditation refocuses us from ourselves and from the world so that we reflect on God’s Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works . . . . So we prayerfully ponder, muse, and “chew” the words of Scripture. . . . The goal is simply to permit the Holy Spirit to activate the life-giving Word of God.

So how are we to take this challenge of silence and solitude as a missional habit? Frost gives the following advice:

Set Aside a Designated Time

Start with one designated time block a week for 15-20 minutes. View it as a special time between you and God. Don’t count your designated time when you are on the run.

Eliminate Distractions

Find a place free from noise and interruptions. Avoid sensory distractions: touch, sights, sounds, smells, taste. The quieter your surroundings, the better one can listen to the Holy Spirit. Find a comfortable position in a chair and close your eyes. Allow the distractions in your mind to dissipate, which usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Let God In

Begin your time by simply enjoying God’s presence. Don’t ask questions (something I need to work on!), or tell the Holy Spirit what you need or want. He knows before we do. Don’t listen to the Enemy’s lies either, reminding you of your unworthiness and sins. Remember how much God loves you. I know this sounds cliché, but let his love wash over you. For He’s the One who created you in the first place. His Spirit longs to dwell in your heart, the temple He created for Himself. Try to focus your thoughts with a simple centering prayer: Abba, peace, grace, love or Jesus’ prayer from Luke 18:13: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Frost writes: Centering prayer is different from classic Eastern mediation, which is attempting to empty your mind by pushing thoughts away or by having no thoughts. Christian contemplative practices expert Phil Fox Rose says that when engaging in centering prayer, the key is to “resist no thought.” Most of us simply can’t stop thinking anyway. Our minds are constantly racing. If we make having no thoughts the goal, we’ll get discouraged. In centering prayer, we let thoughts happen, but we don’t engage them.”

Follow God’s Promptings

We need to be governed by the Spirit’s promptings. Frost writes: The Spirit might bring to your mind the name or face of a person you are to bless or eat with. He might convict you of sin or encourage you in your faithfulness. He might prompt you to reengage with someone you blessed last week. . . . If we allow the Spirit to guide us, we will be free to enjoy our appetites in a redeemed, godly fashion.

How do we know if the prompting is of the Holy Spirit? You will sense His presence in your heart. He will reward you with the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc.

Weekly Challenge

Adding to the previous challenges, here is our challenge for the week:

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

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Eat Together

Last week, the focus of my post was on ways Christians can intentionally bless others. We can do this in three simple ways: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of kindness, and 3) giving a gift. Did you take the challenge of blessing three people during the week, one of whom is not a member of your church? If it slipped your mind, no worries, we have a new week coming up! Along with this challenge, I have added one more for you at the end of this post. I think you’re going to like it. 🙂

Highly Missional People Habit #2: Eat Together

Yes, you read those words correctly. Highly missional people intentionally eat together. In our highly digital world, connecting face to face is becoming a rare, but treasured feat. Honestly, I feel challenged in this area. My breakfast is usually on the run, lunch is eaten during work break, and dinner is a toss-up between a family meal and/or snacks at a baseball game. But in reality, grabbing a snack or drink with someone at a ball game is easily attainable. After all, everyone needs to eat and drink. And most of us eat at least three times a day, which equates to 21 meals a week.

Eating together has been a common practice among Christians since the beginning of God’s church. Sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways where people connect not only with God, but also with others. It’s a place where relationships begin and flourish. When we take the time to eat together, we are showing the other person that we care enough about them to live ordinary life with them. It satisfies our need to know and be known through face-to-face conversation.

In his book, Surprise the World!, Michael Frost shares a posed question: How would you complete the following sentence: ‘The Son of Man came . . . ?” There are three ways that the New Testament completes that sentence: while the first two are well known, the third is surprising:

  • “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
  • “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, ESV).
  • “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34).

While the first two oft-quoted verses tell us about Jesus’ purpose in coming—to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost—the third describes his method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we see him reclining “at the table” while interacting with common people and sinners as He furthers His kingdom work. This is also where true community and genuine fellowship among His disciples developed (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 11:37; 14:15). The early church gathered regularly in homes to “break bread together” as a practical expression of their fellowship in Christ (Acts 2:46). The Apostles also exhort us to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). (A great article on hospitality can be found here: A Meal Says More Than You Think: The Importance of Hospitality.)

Finally, God declares that eating together is important through the depiction of the great marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 9:6-10). Joyous, soul-quenching eternal communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is detailed through the sharing of a meal together.

Weekly Challenge

So here’s our challenge for this week:

  1. Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  2. Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy meal. If you’re a coffee lover, go ahead and have that cup of coffee with that person who has been on your mind.

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!