In Colossians 4, Paul tells the church at Colossae, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” In 1 Peter 3, Peter tells his scattered readers to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
What Paul and Peter’s words reveal to us is that communicating the Good News is a matter of both our words and our deeds. Our words are to be seasoned with salt, gentle, and respectful. However, our actions are to be wise, such that we make the most of every opportunity to exhibit or demonstrate the good news we proclaim. For the early church, mission was less an event that they went to, or a speech that they made but, rather, a way of life.
In Luke 10, Jesus sends the 72 disciples to the places where he is about to go. He tells them to eat with people, to stay with the people who welcome them, to heal people and, when they do, to announce that the kingdom of God is in their midst. The BLESS rhythms are a great set of missional rhythms that flesh out the heart of Luke 10. BLESS is actually an acronym that, when spelled out fully, reveals some practical ways that we can live missionally in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, teams, and social networks as individuals, couples, and families.
Step 1 | Begin with Prayer: Yes, this is sort of cheating a bit with the letters. Still, intentionally identifying and praying over the people in your network, workplace, and neighborhood is a great first step.
- Who in your life is on their way back to God?
- Who of these individuals welcomes you, listens to you, and serves you?
Step 2 | Listen: Listen to the stories of the people in your life. Learn to ask great questions, lean in with curiosity, and extend empathy and compassion.
- What brings your friend joy?
- What disappoints your friend?
- What are the pain points in your friend’s life?
- Where is there deep meaning and purpose in your friend’s life?
- Where is God bringing healing and restoration in your friend’s life without them even knowing it?
- Essentially, what’s the Pixar short of your friend’s life?
Step 3 | Eat: Share your table with others. This could look like actual meals, drinks, or coffee or games, sports, and other things that you do for fun. Tap into your own sense of joy and invite people into it with you.
- What “meals” can you share with others?
Step 4 | Serve: When you listen and eat with others, you learn how to serve them in intentional ways like mowing the lawn when one of the adults is traveling for work, or picking up the kids from school when both parents are stuck at work, or sharing Christmas cookies that don’t include the one nut your neighbor’s allergic to, or more seriously, offering tools and opportunities that help your friend experience the healing and restoration that announces the kingdom of God in their midst.
- Where does your friend need to experience Good News in small ways or big ways?
- How can you partner with God, and maybe a few other people, to exhibit good news?
Step 5 | Story: Michael Frost once said that true Christian witness is about learning to tell three stories: God’s story, your friend’s story, and your own story. Listening is required for all three. We listen to God’s story by being steeped in the Gospel story: the story of how God redeems and restores all things through Christ. As previously mentioned, we listen to a friend’s story by being steeped in the story of their life…and we listen to our own story by being steeped in the story of God’s presence and activity in the highs and lows of our own lives.
- Practice telling the story of 1) God’s (Good) Creation, 2) the Fall (into Sin), 3) Redemption (in Christ), and 4) the Restoration of all things.
- Where have I seen God throughout the highs and lows of my own life story?
- Briefly describe your life before Christ. What was missing, lacking, not working? Describe the circumstances that led to your encounter with Christ. How did you encounter Christ? Describe what has changed and is changing in your life after meeting Christ. How has Christ added to your life?
Start the BLESS rhythms by identifying the context, network, or neighborhood God has called you to as a missionary. Then, begin with prayer…