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Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People

av Michael Frost

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1163182,877 (4.5)Ingen/inga
Christianity is a surprising religion. It has changed the world in remarkable ways throughout history simply through Christians living out their faith. More recently, we've become afraid of a habituated Christianity, thinking that routines will rob our faith of its vitality. The net effect is that we've replaced the habits that surprise the world with habits that mimic the world--and both we and the world suffer for it.Integrating the five habits in the BELLS model--Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and understand yourself as Sent by God into others' lives--will help you spread the gospel organically, graciously, and surprisingly.Michael Frost, a world-renowned expert on evangelism and discipleship, makes evangelism a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, effective, and easy to live out!… (mer)
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BELLS - Bless - Eat - Listen - Learn - Sent. Missional living - live this way and we surprise the world. The challenge is to do it... ( )
  cbinstead | Dec 31, 2020 |
Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. We Christians at the beginning of the 21st Century should recognise that kind of insanity: if we expect our usual patterns of worship, however contemporary and relevant, to continue to draw people into Christ, then we shall continue to be disappointed by the Church.

There is a place for ministry to aging Baby Boomers using traditional worship, but every member of the congregation is aware that the mean age of our fellow church-goers is increasing. In other words, Baby Boomers are aging, dying and not being replaced by younger people. Older people in their eighties continue trying to keep up the level of Christian activity that had when younger, and are experiencing burnout and disillusionment.

The answer is not more of the same. The Anglican pattern of gathering everyone for the Sunday Eucharist is only 60 years old, going back to the Parish and People Movement of the 1950s. We can dare to envisage new ways of being church.

Bunbury’s new Bishop, Ian Stuart, has been circulating copies of Surprise the World! as he visits parishes in his diocese. Bishop Ian states that responding to the Good News of Christ is pretty simple, really. Loving each other so that we want to reach out and love others.

He has chosen a book that all Anglicans can use and act on. The book is about “shar[ing] your faith in surprisingly simple ways.” Michael Frost, Co-founder of the Forge Mission Training Network, an Australian evangelist, encourages us to follow is model of B.E.L.L.S.: “We BLESS people, both inside and outside the church. We EAT together, sharing meals with believers and non-believers alike. We LISTEN to the … Holy Spirit. We intimately LEARN CHRIST, … [and] we see ourselves as SENT by God to everywhere life takes us.”

The strength of this model is that it does not assume that every Christian is a gifted evangelist. Few Christians are: we are to live our lives so that they provoke questions, “living a questionable life”, and answer them simply and directly as they arise out of our mixing with nonbelievers.
Frost emphasises that the B.E.L.L.S. model is not a one-off program, but the cultivation of life-long habits that will feed this evangelistic lifestyle. The model is described is not difficult or complicated, and it sounds fun, social justice will be practised and beauty will be encountered.

I am impressed by this little book. As a Franciscan tertiary, my first aim is “make Christ known and loved everywhere”. These habits will speed my steps to opening doors to conversations about the Good News.

I am also in ongoing pain, a misfiring of my nervous system. Pain is closely related to depression: if you have pain, the pain will eventually make you depressed. Two spiritual strategies to defeat the depression, and so modulate the pain, are to reach out to others in need and put yourself out in the community (and not hide away in dangerous isolation). B.E.L.L.S. gives me means to do that (Blessing and Eating) and also shows how to nurture these activities through prayer and Bible study (Listening and Learning Christ).

There are questions for discussion for each chapter of Surprise the World! These will help readers take in what they have discovered and put the five habits into practise.

I am delighted that Bishop Ian recommended the book to me, and that he is encouraging others to discover B.E.L.L.S. and whistles (no whistles actually!) I read the book in three hours. Now I want to find three people to meet with, discuss the book, and get busy. Hopefully, B.E.L.L.S. will lead away from insanity! ( )
  TedWitham | Feb 7, 2019 |
As I write this review we are a week into 2016. Many people have already had their resolutions wrecked on the reef where good intentions and harsh reality meet. Most of these New Year's resolutions are about personal development: losing weight, exercising more, mastering a new skill, etc. What about making habitual changes that will make you a more compelling force for God's Kingdom mission in the world? Can we pursue the sort of life change which will impact others?

Enter Michael Frost. A popular author, speaker and cofounder of the Forge Mission Training Network presents the five habits of highly missional people and a simple plan of how to incorporate them into your life. Surprise the World! exhorts us to live questionable lives--"the kind of lives that evoke questions from [] friends, then opportunities for sharing faith abound, and the chances for the gifted evangelists to boldly proclaim are increased" (5). Frost argues that we are not all gifted evangelists, but we support the work of evangelism as we live the sort of lives that invite questions from our neighbors and friends.

So what are the five habits of highly missional people? Frost proposes the acronym BELLS:

  • Bless-- Words of affirmation, acts of kindness or gifts for at least three people per week (at least one who isn't in your church).

  • Eat--Eating with at least three people (at least one who is not in the church).

  • Listen--Setting aside at least one period of time per week to listen to the Spirit in silence and solitude.

  • Learn--Spending time each week learning Christ through the gospels, the Bible, movies and film, good books, etc.

  • Sent--Journaling throughout the week about ways you have alerted others of 'the universal reign of God through Christ.'


Conventional wisdom tells us it takes about six weeks to form and solidify a habit. At least that is what a lot of sermons tell us. Frost thinks otherwise. Drawing on the insights of Jeremy Dean (author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits), Frost suggests significant life change takes months of intentional practice (101). So he suggests structures of accountability he calls DNA groups (for Discipleship, Nurture, Accountability) which will hold each other accountable and encourage these missional habits for participants.

The gift of this book is its simplicity. Books on missional theology and ministry often present many fine ideas about what it means to be missional, often from a big-picture perspective. This book is super practical. It gives you a simple plan,--Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent--which is sufficiently challenging to live out.

For me, to intentionally eat with and bless people in and out of church each week, plus set aside time to listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and journal through my experience in sharing God's reign would mean major changes and greater intentionality in mission (and I like mission already). There is enough structure and flexibility in how to live these habits out that it adaptable to whatever context. I also really appreciate the structure of DNA groups. I have little patience for accountability groups that focus solely on sin (as though that is the only thing important we have in common). Discipleship and nurture are essential as well for supporting the kind of life change that Frost suggests here.

I recommend this book for anyone wanting to live missional lives. This is a fantastic goal for 2016. However I would suggest, don't read these book alone. Read it with a friend, read it in a group, read it with those who will disciple you, nurture you and call you to account as you pursue the goal of living a questionable life. Five stars:★★★★★

Note: I received a copy of Surprise the World! from the Tyndale Blog Network. I was asked for an honest review. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
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Christianity is a surprising religion. It has changed the world in remarkable ways throughout history simply through Christians living out their faith. More recently, we've become afraid of a habituated Christianity, thinking that routines will rob our faith of its vitality. The net effect is that we've replaced the habits that surprise the world with habits that mimic the world--and both we and the world suffer for it.Integrating the five habits in the BELLS model--Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and understand yourself as Sent by God into others' lives--will help you spread the gospel organically, graciously, and surprisingly.Michael Frost, a world-renowned expert on evangelism and discipleship, makes evangelism a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, effective, and easy to live out!

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