Saturday, April 09, 2016

Identifying as a missionary (sent)

The fifth and final habit in Michael Frost's book, 'Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People,' is: SENT. The idea is to journal the ways we have alerted others to God's reign so we can begin to identify as missionaries (sent ones).

Many people used to think of missionaries as exclusively describing those who traveled overseas to spread Christianity. A big part of "missional" ideology is reframing this to include all Christians being called to glorify God in our daily lives wherever we are.

Personally, his phrase "alerting others to God's reign" makes me cringe a little, but I like what Frost is getting at. The idea is to present what we believe the reign of God will look like in the world. Frost says it will consist of these things:
  • Reconciliation - between God and humankind, as well as among humanity.
  • Justice - Whether donating to a cause, signing a petition, or opening our homes to the poor.
  • Beauty - (I like this) - Inviting others to recognize the beauty of God's kingdom, as well as the beauty of what we can create as his agents of grace.
  • Wholeness - the restoration of broken people, relationships, and the world.

Frost suggests journaling because, not only is it a way to record our thoughts, but it will help us identify ways we mirror God's work of justice, reconciliation, beauty, and wholeness in the world. It will help us sort through the myriad ways we operate as God's ambassadors in the following ways:
  1. Processing events - It helps us see everyday acts - of creativity, diligence, service, and kindness - as being as legitimately missional as acts of evangelism, preaching, or social justice.
  2. Making sense of God's work - Journaling forces us to take notice of the way God is unfurling his reign throughout the world through our small contributions.
  3. Keeping a record of insights - Writing things down leads to a deeper understanding of the ways God is using us, or working among us.
  4. Asking important questions - It's a place for us to be honest with God, and ourselves.
  5. Identifying ourselves differently - It's about reshaping our identities around our fundamental calling as the sent ones of God.


As with the other four habits, this one too makes a lot of sense. In a way I think this kind of pulls it all together. I would imagine it is also probably the most difficult to keep up with. I've been a long-time journaler - even aside from this blog. It's not easy to maintain, especially so around such specific content. But imagine the power it could have?

In the final chapter Frost proposes the idea of DNA groups - for Discipleship, Nurture, and Accountability. He likens them to Neil Cole's Life Transformation Groups. The idea is to meet weekly with a few other people to see how you're doing with the new habits. First he suggests simply reading the book together, then committing to regularly meeting for the purpose of discipleship, nurture, and accountability. I think that's a great idea. He has a "DNA Accountability Form" in the book to use as a guide (very simple).

So, all in all, I really liked this book. Again, it was small and super easy to read. While I'm not in love with the BELLS acronym, it is definitely memorable (I have called on it many times in the week or so I spent on the book). I also like the practical nature of the questions, accountability, and other resources in the book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in following Jesus today. I think it would also be really handy for a small group.