In considering missional communities and missional groups one question which is commonly asked is, “how do we live this out” or “what does this look like.” While many understand the theory behind being missional they do not easily understand how to live it out in their own lives. In this post I will include some examples of this which serve as a good illustration of living out missional intentionality. The acronym BELLS is one rhythm that is easily remembered and easily reproduced.
BELLS is an acronym from Michael Frost’s book EXILES and gives practical steps in becoming salt & light to our communities while aligning our lives to be more like Jesus.
The B.E.L.L.S. : Missional Rhythm / Accountability (adapted from Michael Frost’s book EXILES)
BLESSING—The Hebrew for “blessing” (barak) means “to empower to strength”. We seek God’s blessing and pass that blessing on to others. *Bless 1 person this week (preferably a non-Christ follower)
EATING—Sharing food has always been central to a life of community. We want to place worship and communion back where it began, as a provider’s delight in the middle of the shared table. *Eat with 1 person this week (preferably a non-Christ follower)
LISTENING—We believe that God is capable of speaking to us. We do not confine Him to any particular medium, but we try to be attentive to His voice, wherever and whenever it speaks. *Take time to listen to God for 1 hour/week (listening, not talking)
LEARN—We desire to take on the image of God and to participate in His plan. We seek out knowledge about God to help us to do this. *Study Jesus’ life a little bit each week from the Gospels.
SENT—We are ambassadors who bear God’s image in the world. Remind yourselves regularly that we are “sent” to participate in God’s activity and mission in the world. *Take time each day to reflect on the question: “How have I worked with or resisted Jesus today?” Gospels. How did he live? With whom did he interact? What were his commands? Then “go” live like Jesus did.
Living a missional life is not a new add-on, but a way of life focused on others and the mission of God. Try the BELLS for a month and see how your life and others are changed.
Small Boat Big Sea has adopted BELLS and made it their own you can read more at: http://smallboatbigsea.org
Likewise Soma Communities have formed their own rhythms that in some ways reflect BELLS buts incorporates other components. Read more at: http://tacoma.somacommunities.org
Dave Ferguson adopted BELLS and changed the acronym to BLESS based off Genesis 12:2-3 which says, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
- B- Begin with prayer. We want you to ask, ‘God how do you want me to bless the people in the places you’ve sent me to?’
- L- Listen. Don’t talk, but listen to people, their struggles, their pains, in the places God sent you.
- E- Eat. You can’t just check this off. It’s not quick. You have to have a meal with people or a cup of coffee. It builds relationships.
- S- Serve. If you listen with people and you eat with people they will tell you how to love them and you’ll know how to serve them.
- S- Story. When the time is right, now we talk and we share the story of how Jesus changed our life.
- Read more on BLESS here
There is no magic rhythm and each subculture must wrestle with what this looks like to them but these are great places to get started in forming your own missional rhythms.