“What if” – Part 2

14 Jun 2020 by Rev Andrew Smith in: Letters, Thoughts, News

“What if” – What it might look like to live out the Five Habits of Highly Missional People

From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures

Last week we began to imagine a series of “What ifs” to helps us picture how adopting Mike Frost’s five habits could transform a congregation. These habits are from Frost’s handy little book “Surprise the World – The Five Habits of Highly Missional People”. This week let’s imagine again. Maybe all this imagining will help you see ways that Frost’s habits could take shape for your church in your local community.

What if a couple of people in the congregation are really keen about basketball? Between them they not only love playing basketball, but also enjoy helping others develop their skills in basketball. They meet up regularly at the local university courts for skills training and playing one on one games. As it turns out, there are others who come to the courts individually or in small groups to do pretty much the same thing. Often, they join in playing games with each other.

What if the couple of people from the congregation are encouraged to read Mike Frost’s book, and they begin to see that they are already practising parts of the book in their basketball group, and they begin to imagine how else they might put those habits into practice.

What if they decide to be intentional about blessing the people they meet on the basketball court? In the first place they will bless these others through the fun they have together playing games. They will affirm them in their skills and good plays in games, and will offer them suggestions for how they might improve their technique. They realise that this is what they would do naturally quite apart from Frost’s habit, but with Frost’s habits in mind they now see that their passion and skills in basketball are part of their Christian ministry. They are aiming to live questionable lives in how they interact with those who they join with in playing basketball.

What if over some weeks of playing, there is one particular person who is joining in with them regularly. Through their common interest in basketball friendships are developing and they are learning more about each other’s lives. In one of their conversations it comes up that the two know each other from church. It seems really easy at that point to offer an invitation to come to church with them. But they hold off from doing that. Instead they are imagining that in some way a new form of church might grow out of these relationships.

They are imagining that over time some from the group of basketball players might be keen to meet up for a BBQ together, which might turn into more regular times of eating with each other. The two from the congregation want to keep blessing and eating in this way and will be watching and listening for how the Spirit is moving among them. They feel called to invest in sharing deeply in the lives of their new basketball friends. On this journey of sharing life together they are trusting in God to be working and are ready to encourage signs of faith – perhaps there will be a small group from among the bigger group who will want to explore questions of life and faith together.

What if COVID-19 comes along and puts a hold on the group getting together to play basketball. But the two from the congregation keep meeting up, and at times shoot around together at a basketball court (keeping appropriate social distancing!!). It is during this time that one of them speaks about his work in retail. Before COVID-19 he was struggling with the attitudes of customers. In COVID-19 it has been even worse, and it is taking a bigger toll on him. They remind each other of the accounts of Jesus relating with people, and the compassion he showed. Together they wonder about what it means to live in Christ and for Christ to live in them, and how the compassion of Jesus is in them to be compassionate, even toward the difficult customers. They are learning Christ together. They are discipling each other, nurturing each other and keeping one another accountable. Maybe this is a pattern for the small group of basketballers who might, down the track, want to explore questions of life and faith together. Maybe this is the beginning of fresh and vibrant expression of church.