Surprise the World, Chapters 1 & 2
For those of you who skipped the first 2 chapters of Surprise the World, we’re giving you a short recap of those chapters in blog post form. If you’ve read those chapters, this will be a slightly redundant review of how Michael Frost sets up the rest of his book. Either way, it’s (hopefully) a helpful and succinct look at the foundation of the 5 habits we will be exploring as a church in 2019.
In chapter 1, Frost puts our minds at ease a little bit when it comes to evangelism. The prospect of having to be an “evangelist” makes most of us a little nervous. Or a lot nervous. Frost draws a helpful distinction between being an evangelist (a person with the spiritual gift of evangelism) and being evangelistic. Being evangelistic basically means being a person whose life is shaped by the good news of the reign of God through Jesus Christ.
Frost encourages Christians to lead “questionable lives” – meaning that our lives should lead other people (neighbors, co-workers, friends and family, etc.) to ask questions about why we live the way we do. And when they ask questions, we should be able “to speak about Jesus conversationally”. Frost gives us some historical info about early Christians in the Roman Empire whose acts of compassion, hospitality, and kindness was “stunningly different” from what most people had ever seen. This caught the attention of the Roman world all the way up to the Emperor. Frost says that “our challenge is to find what similarly questionable lives look like in the twenty-first century.”
In chapter 2, we learn that a questionable life will not arise from church programs and meetings, nor will it happen if we’re simply attending worship a few times a month. The questionable lives Frost is encouraging us to live comes from habits that we form intentionally. Our challenge is to find “regular rhythms or habits that transform our everyday lifestyles.” These five missional habits will make our values a daily reality in our lives and in the life of our church. In Surprise the World, ‘missional’ is defined as those things we say and do “that alerts others to the reign of God”.
Frost closes chapter 2 by reminding us of the importance of being mindful about our habits, so they don’t lose their power and meaning. He suggests three ways to be mindful about these 5 habits: (1) listen to those who are gifted evangelical leaders in our church; (2) remember that these habits “propel us outward, beyond ourselves, into the lives of others; and (3) connect with one another in the church by developing relationships of accountability so that we can help one another foster these habits and grow deeper in our own discipleship.
Over the next year, we will dive deep into the five missional habits outlined in Surprise the World: Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent. Our prayer is that God will lead us to live questionable lives that announce the reign of God in our world, sharing the hope and light of Jesus Christ.