5 Simple Missional Practices
In today’s post-Christian culture, many immediately turn cynical when they hear “outreach” and “evangelism.” Unfortunately, this is true for people both inside and outside of the church. Our mandate from Jesus to be disciples who make disciples is, of course, timeless. At the same time, we know that it can help to refresh our language and our approach as times change.
True outreach is not about making a sale, but extending a blessing. And being blessed continues to appeal to everyone. This is why within the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) denomination, we love to use the simple acronym BLESS to illustrate what outreach is all about. We were first introduced to BLESS by Dave Ferguson, pastor of Community Christian Church outside of Chicago, and we continue to give thanks for his gracious encouragement to freely use it to advance the cause of Christ.
We encourage people to engage in outreach through five simple missional practices:
B—Begin with Prayer. Acknowledge that God’s power is needed to successfully extend God’s blessing.
L—Listen with Care. Evangelism is typically associated with talking at people rather than hearing from people, engaging authentically and listening to their stories. When we listen, people feel loved—and they are also much more willing to listen to us in return.
E—Eat Together. Many of Jesus’ most significant interactions involved some kind of food or drink. There is something about breaking bread together that creates meaningful and lasting connection.
S—Serve with Love. Once we understand people’s needs, we more effectively imitate our Savior “who did not come to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28).
S—Share the Story. We take the risk to share the story of how Jesus is transforming our lives and the world.
Of course, one of the reasons we believe that BLESS is particularly effective is that it may be the most ancient way of approaching outreach, taking us all the way back to God’s declaration to Abraham in Genesis 12:2: “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.” We are, and have always been, blessed to be a blessing.
Within the ECC, we have developed a series of free downloadable BLESS resources, which can be found at CovChurch.org/BLESS. These include bulletin inserts for each letter of BLESS, giving practical ideas and exercises to equip pastors to engage their churches in a BLESS Sunday or in a five-week BLESS sermon series. We also have developed sample sermons, small group curriculum, BLESS for Youth, BLESS for Kids, a BLESS Spanish version and more.
We encourage you to take a look and to make BLESS your own, just as many of our own congregations have done with creativity and flair. And consider how BLESS can move beyond a program to a way of life. In the ECC, we are committed to developing new BLESS resources for years to come in order to deepen a culture of blessing in our movement.
For so many, doing “evangelism” sounds scary—but being a blessing sounds like a privilege. By God’s grace, as we equip others to bless their loved ones in these tangible ways, they too will receive the exponential blessing of eternal life in Christ.