The Five Habits of Highly Missional People, is a book written by Michael Frost about the BELLS method for sharing your faith. It is a “handy tool for mobilizing Christians up, in and out into mission. That is, up into deeper connection with the Triune God; in to a stronger sense of community with other believers; and out into the neighborhood.” – Michael Frost. Here you can download the sermon series guide, group study guide, kids program and watch accompanying videos that introduce each habit. (more…)
The Five Habits of Highly Missional People, is a book written by Michael Frost about the BELLS method for sharing your faith. It is a “handy tool for mobilizing Christians up, in and out into mission. That is, up into deeper connection with the Triune God; in to a stronger sense of community with other believers; and out into the neighborhood.” 1
The books sets out “a simple, easy-to-adopt set of habits that unleash essential missional values like engagement with neighbours, connection with each other, a deeper experience of God’s leading, a stronger understanding of the Gospel, and a framework for identifying ourselves as missionaries.“2
This reasonably short, useful book sets out both the why, and how-to of this principle and could be worked through as a group, or an individual. It also includes an “Accountability Form” at the end to help you work through some practical actions steps to begin implementing the BELLS principle of habits in your life.
Click here to access this book for free through Exponential.
1, 2: Quotes from Michael Frost in the introduction to “The Five Habits of Highly Missional People”
“We need to rediscover what it looks like to create curiosity arousing lifestyles…equipping people to live lives that are weird, that are odd, that break moulds.”.
Michael Frost in Missional Conversation Series
Is Michael Frost right?
There are many questions here. What business have respectable middle class Australian Baptists got being ‘weird’? Is there a biblical precedence to support Michael’s viewpoint?
A brief look at some of the Old Testament prophets may provide support. We highlight some of these in our annual Easter Offering video HERE.
Strictly speaking the prophets were in possession of a different set of messages than the Gospel, although we share in common with them the commission to pass on a message from God to the world.
Jeremiah engaged in some bizarre behaviour burying his underwear and walking around with a yoke attached to his back.
Ezekiel’s prophetic modus operandi is similarly odd in comparison to our modern day way of going about proclaiming the message of God. Events that stand out is his act of lying on his side for 390 days, and then repeating that. Eating barley cakes baked over cow manure was another
Perhaps Hosea amongst all the prophets would have the most traction today, due to the self-sacrificial nature of his decision to obey God and take on a prostitute for a wife. It’s not the kind of thing in modern times we expect of God – to be told to live such an unusual, controversial and sacrificial life that plays out like a long running drama speaking to the surrounding world of the nature of God’s love for his people and the degree to which they have defiled themselves.
Christians in popular misconception are perceived to be shunning of sex workers. The truth is that of all the people who reach out to street workers Christians across the world are often on the forefront.
Jesus got a hard time from the religious elite for hanging with tax collectors and other people of ill repute.
It can be argued that there is an incarnational logic to the somewhat bizarre ministries of the prophets. Under the direction of God to deliver a message, they didn’t just proclaim prophecies but lived their message out through their symbolic behaviour, be that in in the choice of marriage partners, their clothing or using their bodies symbolically. They took the word of God seriously and allowed it to have a disruptive and transforming effect on their lives.
Is anybody listening?
The prophets of old weren’t at any risk of being ignored. They aroused curiosity and made the message of God a talking point. It seems as if the church on the other hand is routinely ignored, except for when something controversial happens. So what would it mean to us to live lives that arouse curiosity? Do we have to do something outlandish or bizarre to be noticed?
It is important to note that the behaviour of the prophets mentioned wasn’t some grand plan that they schemed and hatched – it was under the direction of God.
Modern Day Curiosities
There are plenty of examples of Christians living extraordinarily sacrificial lives right across the globe, particularly those who minister amongst the poor and marginalised. However, this is not the preserve of Christian believers alone and therefore not necessarily curious from a religious perspective.
Some modern day believers do choose ‘curious’ ways of witnessing to the world around them. Carl James Joseph, a Catholic pilgrim from Detroit, Michigan, has been living without money and depending on the generosity of others for the past 20 years. Carl carries a large cross on his back and is dressed like Jesus. He is barefoot most of the time and lives a very simple life.
Having visited about 20 countries in the world he has now become a well-known figure in the old city of Jerusalem, where he explores the life and path of Jesus Christ.
If you drive down the old Route 66 into Groom Texas you will see a giant cross which attracts up to a thousand people a day. It was built by Steve Thomas of Pampa, Texas in 1995. Mr. Thomas, disgusted with the huge billboards advertising pornography wanted to make a public profession of faith along the Interstate. Originally he wanted to put up his own billboard with Bible verses but could never find the appropriate verse. Instead, inspired by a cross built by a rancher in Ballinger, Texas, Mr. Thomas decided to construct a giant cross. The cross was constructed by a hundred welders in two pieces and stands 190 feet tall.
Alongside the cross is a replica of Calvary, with steps leading to the crosses, and a replica of Christ’s tomb. The Stations of the Cross feature life-sized sculptures of the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. The Groom Cross is fast becoming a roadside pilgrimage site with the number of travellers visiting the site increasing exponentially.
But what about us ‘normal’ people?
The most elementary way togain traction and cut through is to upset the applecart of expectations.Through perception that is often justified and at other times unwarranted the church and Christians at large in Australia seemed to be pegged when it comes to expectations of attitude and action. Upsetting those expectations arouses curiosity. Here’s some ways I’ve found makes a difference:
- Not judging when you are expected to.
- Taking an interest in others lives and views rather than just trying to ‘push a message’.
- Being found in unlikely places (outside the bubble of the church).
- Learning to build friendships with people outside of your usual Christian networks.
- Being at the heart of a community rather than the fringe.
- Asking questions rather than making statements.
Whilst the examples above don’t attract as much attention as the antics of the prophets or giant crosses it does make a difference one life at a time. Like the prophets, we can submit our lives to God to be used for whatever purposes he wishes and whatever way he wants. The question is, how are we going to respond if he wants us to do something off the wall?
By Stan Fetting (Operations Manager, Crossover)
For more on being ‘Revitalised in Witness’ please read the other posts in this series:
Good ministry practitioners are in constant conversation about ministry strategy and principles, and in particular, about how to get the Good News of the Gospel across to the people we connect with. One particular conversation that has been going for over a decade now is the missional conversation. Crossover has developed a DVD resource designed to help churches, in particular leadership and ministry teams, to ask and discuss the hard questions about their mission strategy in a post-God generation. (more…)
The mission of God is concerned with alerting people to his universal reign through Christ. One of the ways we join him in that enterprise is through the verbal announcement of that reign. We must see evangelism in this broader context, but we need to be careful not to assume that unexplained action is evangelistic. (more…)
At face value, Australian churches seem to be fairly racially divided. There seems to be distinct, racially separate churches for a multitude of racial groupings and cultures from Afrikaaners through to Zulu’s. Well not quite, I haven’t spotted a Zulu Baptist Church yet but just about everything else seems to exist. This seems to suggest a range of things, the least flattering being that we don’t mix very well interracially. But is this true?, or is the face value picture not telling the whole story? Michael Frost explores this issue in the Tinsley Papers Summer Edition and asks “If the kingdom of God is multiracial then why aren’t our churches?” (more…)
This quote by the writer of The Little Prince gets at the nub of the problems many of our churches are facing. Too many church leaders have tried to marshal their members into the technicalities of ship-building – that is church growth – without having first inspired them with a yearning to sail the high seas. Christians, though, should live for the sea. If we can reinvest our members with a yearning for the wide, boundless ocean of mission, the issues associated with building church will be far easier to address. How do we teach people to yearn for the ocean? (more…)
One of the most influential books about the nature of church and mission in the last decade was The Shaping Of Things To Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. Seven years on I asked Alan Hirsch to reflect back on the legacy of the book, especially in terms of how, if at all it has affected the mainstream church. He provides some interesting insights about changes in his thinking and also an interesting claim about the future of missions to the West. (more…)