Leaders cast visions of everyone being everyday missionaries. Truth be told? Most leaders struggle to do it. Most people don’t have a clue how to do it.
Here’s a great model to turn unlived aspiration into action…for everyone.
Easy to remember. Easy to start practicing.
Teach it. Practice it. Ask people to regularly tell stories about it.
People will move from consciously incompetent to consciously competent!
The acronym is BLESS!*
For simplicity, I’ll reference “neighbors” but this can apply in any context.
B- Begin with prayer.
Pray for your neighbors. As you get to know them, pray for them by name (we frequently write down the names of new people we meet so we don’t quickly forget).
Stop and listen. If you’re out for a walk, stop. Introduce yourself. Learn about them. You’ll learn where they’re from. Family. Career. History. But, over time, as you listen, you’ll learn their joys but also what hurts…what’s broken. The inventor of the stethoscope said: “Listen to your patients; they’ll tell you what’s wrong.”
Share a meal. Coffee. Jesus ate meals with people. If you’ve never invited a neighbor or another for a meal–in your home or out for lunch/dinner–it might seem strange. You’ll be surprised. Food makes everything easier. Relationships get better. We’re a country filled with isolated, lonely people. Seriously! Virginia is a great example.
Zaccheus I’m coming to your house today! –Jesus
At this point you’ll know how to serve them. Because you’ve listened. (Oftentimes, they’ll want to serve you, too. Let them!) Because you Begin to Pray…Listen…Eat…you’ll know how to serve them. Many times it’s simple, easy, in the middle of busy… Serve. Big ways. Small ways.
Everyday when I go to work; I pray for opportunities. I show up differently. –Midwest 1000 Young Leader
OK… you’ve already been doing this…while you listened and ate. Sharing your story. Your story includes faith. Jesus. Forgiveness. Restoration. Comfort. Hard times. High Points. It came naturally. Not all at once. But… let’s be clear: It includes words. We’re a story culture. The better you know your story and how God’s story has changed your story, the better equipped you are. After we had BLESSed one of our neighbors for several years, she called Gail: “The whole family is together. Can you come right now and share the hope that you’ve shared with me?”
How can they hear about Jesus unless someone tells them?… How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news. –Romans 10:14-15
As a leader, after BLESS has been taught…
Find a regular way in your small groups, board meetings, classes, staff meetings, etc. and ask people to share stories where they have BLESSed. It will start slowly. You will create a learning lab. Accountability. Encouragement. Helpful insights. Celebration.
And unlived aspiration gives way to actual action! Consciously incompetent gives way to consciously competent!
A church in Canton, Ohio, has nearly 90 people BLESSing people. AND 8 being trained in 1000 Young Leaders now. They heard their first testimony of someone who’d come to faith in Jesus in February!
An east coast region has encouraged all of their churches to regularly practice something similar.
Our friend Greg Finke offers more help in his widely read book Joining Jesus on His Mission.
Three simple questions:
- What are you already doing that causes you to celebrate?
- What would keep you from starting to BLESS?
- Do you have a candidate(s) for 1000 young leader training to add some missionary to millennials boost in your congregation.
* I believe Michael Frost first introduced me to BLESS.