Book Review | Surprise the World!

A dear friend gave me Surprise the World! by Michael Frost for Christmas and I’m grateful she did. I really appreciate Frost’s perspective on how to live missionally by setting up some intentional habits. This book really appealed to my desire to live a gospel lifestyle, while recognizing that God created me with a systems mindset. The BELLS strategy that Frost lines out addresses 5 missional habits to live out a gospel mindset. One example is to intentionally share a meal with people that you don’t go to church with. That’s not hard to do. Several of the ideas can even be done at the same time..if you buy the meal for the person…you are eating with them and blessing them. It’s not complicated, but it is a simple and helpful strategy to use your life to make an impact for the sake of the gospel.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,  so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:2-6 p. 3
  • but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:15-16 p. 5
  • Mission is not primarily concerned with church growth.  It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God. p. 21
  • Missional habits aren’t just strategic, they’re consequential: Because of the universal reign of God through Christ, we bless, we open our tables, we listen for the Spirit, we learn Christ, and we are sent out on this evangelistic task. p. 21
  • 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 spent 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 through the week about all the ways I alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ.
    BELLS: The five habits of highly missional people. p. 22
  • Each habit shapes us around a particular missional value:
    BLESS > Generous
    EAT > Hospitable
    LISTEN > Spirit-led
    LEARN > Christlike
    SENT > Missional p. 23
  • Challenging the behavior of people is a profoundly important challenge for churches trying to thrive in a shifting cultural environment.  John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, says that “the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems.  The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.” p. 25
  • We must become attentive to the needs, fears, hopes, and yearnings of our neighbors in order to bless them appropriately. p. 37
  • The invitation to share a table is a profoundly meaningful one in every culture. p. 47
  • Trying to figure out how to sit somewhere in the middle–a godly, intriguing, socially adventurous, joyous presence in the lives of others–is tough. p. 68
  • If beauty is an expression of God’s reign, we need to think about ways to invite our friends to encounter it.  Take them hiking. Climb mountains.  Walk along beaches.  Encounters with true beauty can’t help but make us think of Psalm 8: “When I consider…the work of your fingers, what is mankind that you are mindful of them?” p. 90

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