In this series, we have been looking at Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, with its challenge to live surprising lives. He uses the acronym B.E.L.L.S. to describe what a missional set of habits would look like. In our last several reflections, we have looked at the five letters which stand for BLESS, EAT, LISTEN, LEARN, and SENT.
In this final reflection, I want to talk about Frost’s insights on developing habits. Being a blessing to our neighbours and pointing to the Kingdom of God are not one-time events. Frost is talking about something much more interesting: a whole life lived in this way.
That seems like a tall order! How is it possible? Frost teaches that building habits in our lives leads to inner transformation over time. He wants us to practice each of the B.E.L.L.S. habits regularly, and starts us off with some suggestions.
1) Bless three people every week – at least one of whom is not a member of the church.
2) Eat with three people every week (this is harder in Covid, but the idea is important.)
3) Spend at least one period of every week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
4) Spend at least one period of every week learning Christ.
5) Reflect throughout the week on the times you have been sent to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ.
Habits take a lot of time. Studies have shown that it can take an average of 66 days to form a habit. Of course, some habits are easier than others. For instance, people who have resolved to drink more water in the day can form this habit quickly. Those who tried something harder like “50 sit-ups after morning coffee” took a lot longer. To develop these habits takes time, which is why we have suggested following a Rule of Life.
Support for Developing Habits
Developing habits is easier with the support of a couple of other people who would like to do this with you. Frost calls these small groups DNAs, which stands for Discipleship, Nurture, and Accountability. The groups meet on a regular basis to talk about their experiences of B.E.L.L.S. This reflection piece is crucial. It brings the experience full circle. The DNA acronym helps form the conversation. The Discipleship piece would include reflecting on your experience of B.E.L.L.S. since the last meeting. ‘Nurture’ involves seeing the group as a helpful support, especially when life is difficult and tricky. The final one, Accountability, means that we have someone to talk with and keep us from giving into laziness or fear. The point of habit formation is not instant perfection, but transformation over time.
However you live your call as a follower of Jesus, remember that you are spiritually fed by the love of God in Christ in order to be a blessing to the world. And don’t forget, if you want to explore these ideas in greater depth, you can always read his book!
NOTE: These reflections are only meant to be a synopsis and study of Michael Frost’s work, Surprise the World! Our purpose is to encourage our readers with these great ideas. If you interested in going further, please go read the book. We encourage you to support your local independent bookstore.