15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:15 – 16
So, having begun to learn how to live our lives in Christ, and to live out our life in the context of the body of Christ, participating in its ministry, there is that third dimension of witnessing to that life in the communities where God has places us. I think we often give ourselves a hard time because we’re not Billy Graham [or insert evangelist of choice here]. The role of evangelist is not something that everyone carries though, in the same way that not everyone is a prophet/teacher/pastor/apostle etc. (Ephesians 4 ministry functions).
We are, however, called to engage in mission in our day to day lives, in the words of Peter, knowing how to ‘give an answer for the hope we have’, whilst being gentle, kind etc. Living a missional live, sharing our story, seeking to demonstrate the values of the Kingdom of God. Thats all well and good, but how?
For a long time I’ve been convinced that we all need practical suggestions of how to live the Christian life. It doesn’t happen by accident. And, although we’re all free in Christ, it doesn’t do any harm for us to be kept on our toes by others in the process, quite simply because a missional lifestyle can be the first thing to be jettisoned when things are turning cold in our spiritual lives. It is often the first thing we won’t engage in, shortly followed by prayer and engagement with the bible and ultimately gaps appear in our connecting to Jesus. But equally, we can do all the other stuff but never get over the fear of living it out.
The best simple suggestion I’ve come across is Michael Frost’s missional BELLS, or a similar pattern. These are 5 missional practices, not just about outreach, but about keeping connected to the Spirit, to the body of Christ, and to living out the missio dei, the mission of God. These are ‘In, Up, and Out’ practices which can help bring balance to our daily lives. I heartily recommend them to you. They are something I hope to encourage people to engage in as we plant some missional churches and make disciples in Newcastle from the summer. Below , you’ll find a link to Solace’s proposed planting strategy and a copy of an e-book by Michael Frost explaining the full BELLS practices. Please take time and have a read. Live out God’s mission and your life in Christ where you are.
Just to recap the key essentials of missional discipleship:
1) Learn how to live ‘in Christ’
2) Learn how to live out our lives as part of the people of God, how to live as the body of Christ
3) How to share the possibility of that same life to those who don’t yet know it