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…)
If you’re looking for something to read over your Christmas holiday break, or perhaps for a last minute gift idea, we’ve put together a list of Crossover’s top 10 books for the year and where to find out more. (more…)
There are many habits of church life that keep Christians inside the bubble and limit their missional potential. There are other habits that propel Christians outwards into a life of evangelistic cutting edge. At our recent Emerging Evangelists Conference Mike Frost fleshed out the five missional habits encapsulated by the acronym B.E.L.L.S. (more…)
Did you catch the look of incredulous surprise on the face of the guy sitting on the park bench in our recent Easter video? He suddenly realizes that God has chosen to use him to reach others for Jesus.
Why is he so surprised?
What has happened to our understanding of mission that realising that all Jesus followers are “sent” by God is a new revelation?cYes we have too often outsourced mission and outreach as the video suggests and have diluted down the call to mission to just a select few.
This stands in such sharp contradiction to our Baptist story in Australia and overseas. A story of creative witness in many diverse contexts that is such a rich one. We trace our inspiration to being sent out to bear witness with creativity back to way of Jesus, the early church and the creativity of our God as demonstrated in the Scriptures.
Being sent is at the core of God’s mission, highlighted in the sending of His own Son and so clearly understood by the early church. Of the multiple examples let just highlight one.
Luke in his inspired account of the sending out paradigm of the early church in Acts 11:19f provides an understated narrative of a local church in action at Antioch.
As Luke records it, some unnamed people, ”men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.” Understanding that their commitment to Jesus meant they had to go out, they were instrumental in the establishing the first non-Jewish local faith community.
This ‘sending out’ paradigm is so imbedded in the ethos of this local faith community, that it comes as no surprise that they participate so energetically in another significant “sending out” moment in the mission of God.
As Luke records in Act 13, this same community of believers – inspired by the prompting of the Holy Spirit affirmed Barnabas and Saul in their call to be sent out – “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
And this initiated another stage in the movement that was to see the transformative message of Jesus impacting “all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
The Church when it is authentically the Church is always a sending community. Sadly however the guy in the park bench characterises the lack of awareness of many believers of God’s purpose to use them to share the message of Jesus.
I find myself asking the question, what would it take for my local church to help believers like him understand that as s/he goes out into their daily life activities at work, in the community – s/he is in fact being sent as an agent of transformation?
What would it take? Let me offer five suggestions that would be part of the list:
1. A commitment by the local church to make mission its core business as directed by the Holy Spirit.
2. A strategy by the local church to strengthen the local believers to believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. To fortify their confidence in the Gospel.
3. A strategy by the local church to equip the local believers to be more competent in sharing the Gospel.
4. A process as a gathered community to affirm local believers in their engagement as agents of transformation in their everyday worlds.
5. A celebration of the stories of transformation in the local community and beyond which have occurred because the local believers have “gone out” on mission.
For more on being ‘Revitalised in Witness’ please read the other posts in this series:
In the western suburbs of Sydney there is a shopping centre that has been badged the ‘Carnes Hill Marketplace’. They suggest to those in the area that they are “Your Place to Meet, Your Place to Shop, Your Community Square.”
This is a widespread trend – modern shopping centers marketing themselves as ‘marketplaces’.
Back in the first century marketplaces fulfilled these meet, shop and community functions BUT they were so much more. They were the places of ideas. Places where big questions were asked and debated. The marketplace was an unpredictable and unsanitized gathering place.
I had the privilege last year of standing on Mars Hill looking down over the Athenian marketplace of Pauls’ time. Overshadowing Mars Hills is the architectural grandeur of the Parthenon. This is the scene of Paul’s ministry in Athens as recorded by Luke in Acts 17. A plaque of the Acts 17 passage is now attached to a rock face at the entrance to the area.
The Acts 17 passage has long been an inspiration and a challenge for me personally. There are two things I find revitalising from this passage:
What stands out to me is Paul’s confidence in the Gospel in engaging with the religious plurality of the Athenian world. His confidence in the Gospel no doubt grows out of his transformative experience of faith in Jesus. It is a salutary reminder to reassess our confidence in sharing the good news of Jesus in our contemporary scene.
How is my connection to Jesus? Am I giving time to nurturing my experience of Jesus?
The other sticking feature for me is Paul’s competence in sharing the good news of Jesus in a variety of different contexts. Paul took the context of the people he was engaging with very seriously. He sought to find appropriate bridges to connect with the worldview of his audiences. In Luke’s abbreviated record of Paul’s ministry in Athens, he highlights his engagement with the Jewish community in the synagogue, the commercial traders in the marketplace and the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers of the Areopagus.
Believing Jesus is the answer, that’s the issue of confidence.
How might I engage in a helpful way – that’s the issue of competence.
In conclusion, I ask what might my confident and competent engagement look like with 3 groups in my “marketplace”?
A. The religious people in my world. Most communities in Australia today present people from all of the worlds religions. The mission field has come to us and the challenge is how might I – how might you take an ACTS 17 approach to these seekers in our midst.
B. The local commercial community. What bridges am I building with my local business owners – be it informally or via membership of Rotary or the like?
C. The thought leaders. How can I connect with and influence in a helpful way local politicians, local radio and local newspaper journalists and bloggers?
Food for thought.
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There can be little doubt that one of the ongoing major issues for the future of the local church is the vitality of its ministry to children and youth. Local Baptist churches have traditionally been well engaged in this area of focused ministry. However, the decline in church attendance, falling from 25% of the Australian population in 1990 to 15% in 2011 (NCLS Survey 2011), highlights the increasing need for our children and youth programs to be more purposefully focused on reaching the kids of our districts who are increasing unlikely to be associated with church attendance activities.
This edition of PRAC raises the issue of what it will take to see our kids’ ministries being more genuinely missional. Is it possible that traditional ministries such as playgroups and Brigades can be re-engineered to reach families for Jesus? The short answer is yes. The articles in this PRAC highlight how two local Baptist churches, Caringbah in Sydney and South Pine in Brisbane, have seen traditional children/youth ministries reconfigure to impact families for Jesus.to impact families for Jesus. Click on the link to download this edition: PRAC Autumn 2013
A pastor recently asked: ‘Where in the Bible do you find camping culture mentioned?’ Well, I’m glad he asked because I’ve been reading an excellent book by Bruce Dunning called ‘God of Adventure’ which establishes the biblical validity of ‘Christian Adventure Learning’, arguing a case that liminality (conscious awareness) and adventure learning combine to be one of God’s principle tools to connect with his people, challenge them, and have them participate in his redemptive purpose for his creation. (more…)
If you could hatch a plan to be a powerful witness to our nations biggest political power brokers would you: (a) Run for Parliament in a major party, (b) start or join a Christian lobby group, or (c) open a tiny Chinese restaurant? (more…)
It’s not often I am mistaken by a fellow traveler at an airport for being a New Age type but the title of this book beside me led the person next to me to imagine that I would be interested in staying over at her retreat where I could engage in mud baths, reiki, card reading and massage. The book found its way into the cover of my newspaper for the rest of the trip before just in case someone else invited me to their establishment to get my fortune told and my energies re-centered. The last book along these lines I read was ‘Exiles’ by Michael Frost but this one is purely fictional. For many people, not wanting to go to church any more is not fictional at all. Read some sections of the book for a preview here. (more…)
About 1,700 years ago, Roman Emperor Julian gained eternal infamy as “the Apostate” for his renewed attack in Christendom which had become “mainstream” during the reign of his uncle, Constantine I, widely viewed as the first Christian Emperor.
Julian the Apostate was a man of letters, and transcripts exist of his rants against the Christians whom he referred to as the ‘Galilean Sect’. The ineffectiveness of widespread persecution of Christians was still within living memory and for the most part Julian did not set out to destroy Christianity but to drive the religion out of “the governing classes of the empire”. (more…)