December 5, 2016

Missional, Spiritual Practices

Just finished reading Michael Frost's short book, Surprise the World. There is a simple yet fundamental challenge in this little book: what if we adopted a different kind of spiritual habit?

I would imagine that when most of us think of spiritual disciplines we think of practices focused on our inward transformation.

Prayer. Silence. Meditation. Bible Study. Fasting.

Most of these are private. If conducted corporately, they are intended to transform the inner life of the individual. At least, that's how we tend to talk about them.

I want to be clear, these are valuable and formative practices but I am wondering if what we truly need are outward focused practices that will shape our inner life.

When I lead workshops on starting missional communities, I often say that it is difficult (if not impossible) to share good news that you haven't already experienced. I will then go through a variety of practices folks might adopt in order to recall their spiritual journey and learn to articulate this. The trouble is that all of the practices I am encouraging still leave the individual focused inward. Which is, I am wondering, why I frequently see such little change (or maybe I'm just a terrible trainer).

This is where Frost comes in.

In this little book he recommends habits such as breaking bread with the other and offering acts of kindness to those outside of our faith community as practices just as vital as private prayer, etc.

I think he's right. We need habits, spiritual disciplines that draw us outside of ourselves and assist us in seeking God at work in the other.

I won't go into the details of the book further. It's written for an evangelical audience but it's an approachable, quick read that I think more of us should read. My hunch is that his premise is really profound while practical and in a few short chapters gets further into application of the missional agenda than most books twice it's length.