In conjunction with our Wednesday Night Study on Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People by Michael Frost the blog over the next few weeks will consist of reflection on the previous day’s lesson.
First, let’s talk about how I was taught to do “evangelism” versus how it actually happens. I was raised hard core Southern Baptist, and we were taught the Roman’s Road and the Sinners Prayer and given Chick Tracks to hand out at school. We had Tuesday Night visitation and tent meetings and evangelists come through regularly. None of which was particularly useful. Not in the long term. How people actually do evangelism is by inviting someone to dinner, meeting them for coffee, and being their friend without any strings.
People know when there are strings attached. They know when you are only talking to them to invite them to church and when you are just making human connection. Apparently at some point hard core evangelism must have worked, but it has not worked well in decades if it ever really did.
Instead we are talking about the BELLS method. Developing attitudes and habits that will help us connect to people in real and meaningful ways.
B stands for Bless. Our goal is intentionally bless three people each week, at least one who is a church member and one who is not.
We bless people in many ways, but here are some examples:
1. Words of Affirmation. This is the simplest way to bless someone. Send them a note, write them an e-mail, or text them. Just words of encouragement that say “I am thinking of you today.” Encouragement, however, requires empathy, the ability to see the world through another’s perspective and not simply projecting our own on to them. If we cannot empathize we cannot encourage.
2. Acts of Kindness. Here is a line from an old AA card, “I will do somebody a good turn and will not get found out. If anyone knows of it, it will not count.” That is a sure way to prevent yourself from doing things just to get praised, but I am not saying you have to be anonymous. I am going to encourage you to go out of your way to do it. Make it a deliberate act. You probably do small acts of kindness all the time, this is about being aware of them and making sure we keep up the habit.
3. Gifts. Gifts show the recipient that they are cared for, known, and valued. Especially when there is no occasion that might obligate acknowledgement. Gifts can be of any kind, any value, they are ultimately tokens of affirming the other’s worth.
Finally, we want to be aware of how we can mess this up. Our goal is not converting, it is blessing. When we set out with the wrong goal we will warp our results. Blessing gets better results than conversion in the long run. We should be aware that some are going to mistake our goals no matter what we do. They have been trained to expect that, don’t let it bother you or stop you. We want to make sure that the recipient feels blessed and not manipulated or used by our blessing.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning it will be taken for a curse.
So being thoughtful, prayerful, and empathetic go out and bless three people in the next week. Let one be a church member, one be someone not in church, and one more.