In my musings, I sometimes contemplate writing a book but instead I read one. This is both easier and on occasion frustrating. It is frustrating when I read a book I had imagined writing. Someone beat me to it and more infuriatingly wrote a much better book than I would ever have scribed!
Such a book is “Surprise the World” by Michael Frost. The subtitle is “5 Habits of Highly Missional People” Frost simply, and beautifully names and describe habits which, when cultivated, create “questionable” Christian lives.
As a teacher of evangelism, 1 Peter 3: 15-16 has long been a favourite text, of mine. Peter assumes that as we practise setting Jesus apart in our hearts that people will ask, and that each of us need to be prepared to share the reason for our hope. Frost unpacks the kind of life which causes these questions and conversations. As he does so he describes the ‘questionable’ way we of Street Hope try to live.
He uses the acronym BELLS.
B is for “bless” and calls the readers to purposeful lives of encouragement and kindness.
E is for eating together. Jesus came “eating and drinking” As we share over the table with others we share not just victuals but our lives.
L – is for listening to the Spirit’s guidance. Frost encourages individuals to set aside a definite time for this purpose of listening to God.
L – is for learning of Jesus. Frost encourages an intentional focus on the person of Jesus through study of the Gospels. He encourages that this study be in addition to whatever devotional practice we might have not as a replacement. A study of Jesus’ life helps us determine how we can follow him.
S – is for sent. Frost encourages that we develop habits of journaling or reflecting on the ways we have expressed our ‘missionaity’ in our lives. This will help us maintain an intentional commitment to ‘questionable’ habits.
At Street hope and its previous incarnation as Up Town we have always stressed kindness and acts of kindness as being a distinct habit we want to develop. We eat and drink coffee often with ourselves and others. We spend periods each week of listening and praying. We ‘major’ on Jesus and see ourselves as sent. This is what we believe!
As I read this book I think “If only I could write like that, I could have written that.” Setting aside my petty jealousy I am grateful for this book. I think I will stick to practising these habits and influencing Street Hope. Together we will attempt to lead highly questionable lives in hopes of being highly missional.