I've begun to read from Michael Frost's tiny book 'Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People' (among a couple of other books). This book is packaged just how I like them: around 100 pages, small pages, inexpensive, and it has discussion questions for each chapter.
The book started out as a missional 'strategy' for his church, then it was published as an e-book, and finally just recently came out in print form. It seems pretty good so far.
The premise of the book centers around the idea that the church needs to develop certain missional "habits" (or "rhythms" or "practices"). Frost believes those to be Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, and Sent. He suggests these are the five habits of highly missional people...
BLESS - I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church.
EAT - I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church.
LISTEN - I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit's voice.
LEARN - I will spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
SENT - I will journal throughout the week about all the ways I alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ.
The rest of the book is spent explaining how these habits translate into missional values...
- If you bless three people every week, you're going to become a very generous person.
- If you eat with others, you'll develop a greater capacity for hospitality.
- If you foster the habit of listening to the Spirit, you'll become an increasingly Spirit-led person.
- If you're learning Christ, it's fair to assume you'll become more and more Christlike.
- If you're journaling the myriad ways you've been sent into your world, you'll increasingly see yourself as a sent one, or a missionary in your own neighborhood.
I like his description of "missional" on p. 21:
"By missional, I mean all that we do and say that alerts others to the reign of God.------------------------------------
South African missiologist David Bosch wrote, "Mission is more than and different from recruitment to our brand of religion; it is the alerting of people to the universal reign of God through Christ." In other words, mission derives from the reign of God... the ideas of our mission and God's kingdom are irrevocably linked. Mission is both the announcement and the demonstration of the reign of God through Christ.
Mission is not primarily concerned with church growth. It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God...
Missional habits aren't just strategic, they're consequential: Because of the universal reign of God through Christ, we bless, open our tables, we listen for the Spirit, we learn Christ, and we are sent out on this evangelistic task..."
I am taking the specific habits with a grain of salt at this point, but I really like this "reign of God" stuff connected with the idea of being missional. It reminds me of when Reggie McNeal talks about the "in-breaking of the Kingdom" (which I actually connect with better). These ideas are so different from using "missional" as a way to get people involved in church projects.
Good stuff so far...