Pour out the B.L.E.S.S.ings

This winter in the Learning Centre we did a series on outreach and evangelism based on a strategy developed by Dave Ferguson. We talked about the SPAM that fills up our in-boxes despite the fact that almost no one ever responds to it. Spammers keep sending out their junk e-mail because it costs so little and might reach a few. It’s possible to approach evangelism like a junk e-mail spammer: caring very little for the collateral damage as long as we get the message out.

In contrast to the SPAM approach to evangelism, Mark Russell presents research on two teams of missionaries in Thailand he labels “converters” and “blessers.” Those weren’t their actual names but those terms describe the approach to ministry of the missionaries in the two teams. The converters had the sole goal of converting people and shared the Gospel with everyone around them. The blessers tried to bless the community, to care for the needs of people, and to share the Gospel as they had opportunity. The impact of the two teams was studied and compared. The first finding was that, not surprisingly, the blessers had a greater social impact than the converters. There were visible improvements in the conditions of the community where the blessers served. The next finding however was more unexpected. The blessers had almost fifty times as many conversions than the team that just focused on converting people. It needs to be said that it wasn’t just that the converters shared the Gospel and the blessers were nice to everyone without saying anything. Both teams passionately shared the Gospel, but the blessers did more than just share the Gospel. They shared the Gospel as they looked for ways to love and serve people. That was the big take-away from the research study.

In Genesis 12:2 God blessed Abraham so that through him, blessing might come to the nations.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

Inspired by the commission to Abraham, Dave Ferguson calls Christians to build mission into our lifestyle with the five simple practices of the acronym, B.L.E.S.S.:

B - Begin with prayer: Pray for the non-Christians around you. But also begin your day praying that God would use you to bless someone.

L – Listen: We are to be people who listen and are truly interested in the struggles, pains and challenges in the lives of people where we live and work. If you listen well, the person you’re speaking with will give you clues how to reach them. You’ll see how the cross most naturally relates to them.

E – Eat: To build genuine relationships that bless the world, it helps to share a meal with the people we’re praying for and to whom we are listening. It might start with coffee. But a meal communicates friendship, acceptance and interest.

S – Serve: As we build relationships through listening and eating with others we will know how we can love them. In response to that we choose to meet others’ needs in practical and impactful acts of service.

S – Story: As we bless people, we look for and expect the opportunities that God will give us to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and the story of Jesus’s work in our lives.
Who comes to mind that you might begin to B.L.E.S.S.? Let’s ask God to bless us as we seek to bless our neighbourhoods and workplaces with the love and good news of Jesus Christ!
In awe of Him,