This is a creative but simple set of practices to transform how you and your church can BLESS your neighbourhood and relationships.

This is a creative but simple set of practices to transform how you and your church can BLESS your neighbourhood and relationships.

BUV is encouraging churches to adopt BLESS, not as a new program, but as a framework for being attentive to what God is doing in the world and joining in with that. As part of our identity as Baptists, and even more importantly as followers of Jesus, we are called to be moving with God in adventurous mission. But how do we do that? Where do we start? How can mission be accessible and achievable for ordinary Christians? How can we encourage one another to bless those around us without adding undue guilt or unrealistic demands? BLESS is a simple model to empower churches to have confidence in living out their faith in authentic ways. It is about being good news and sharing good news with people, and restoring our neighbourhoods back to God’s dream for them. The invitation and the strategy is called BLESS.

To help you and your church adopt and practice BLESS, click on the links below for further resources, ideas and stories:

  • BLESS 6 week Bible Study resource <download>

God is at work all around you. This is the basic assumption of BLESS. We expect to find God at work in every place we go and every person we meet. We look for what God is doing in our street, in our community groups, in our workplace, in our networks, in our neighbourhood. God is already active and has a dream for the world and for people, and the privilege of mission is that God invites us to cooperate and to join in with what God is doing. It is not that we as churches have a mission to pursue, but God’s mission has a church. The liberating thing about this is that because God is already at work, we don’t necessarily have to add new activities or programs to bless our world.

Where does God want us to bless? Sometimes God might call us to new places and people that need us. But often God wants to use us where we already are. Consider:

  • What places do you already spend time, or where is somewhere new that needs you?
  • What people do you already share life with, or who else is God inviting you to bless?

This is where BLESS begins – in identifying who and where God is inviting us to bless. You might start with where you already are, or somewhere new. Often you will find God takes you to places where you bless both people where you are already AND in new places and relationships that have needs but where God has already been working.

God’s strategy, since the beginning of history, was to have God’s people bless the world. God said to Abraham, “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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3) This is one of the most important early Bible passages. Abraham was blessed not to receive a blessing for his own sake, but to pass on and be a blessing. God’s call and invitation for us, and our churches, is to bless the world around us.

God has always wanted to bless people. The word that speaks of God’s heart for people can also be adopted as an acronym to remind us about the how and what to do when we are willing and available to be used by God to bless others. BLESS is based around five basic missional practices:

  • Begin with prayer
  • Listen
  • Eat
  • Serve
  • Share your story

These approaches are not all that hard. In fact they are beautifully simple, but also biblical and effective, and natural.
These five practices or approaches are foundational if we want to cooperate with God in transforming our relationships and neighbourhoods. The order is important too:

B – Begin with prayer.

BLESS starts with prayer – praying for our friends, families, colleagues and other neighbours we relate to, and listening in prayer for God’s dreams for our neighbourhoods and how we can cooperate. We want to pray God’s blessing for people around us, but also ask, “God how do you want me to work with you to bless the people and community around me?” Beginning with prayer reminds us that any mission is not firstly up to us, but about discerning what God is doing in people’s lives. We are like junior detectives looking for clues as to what the Spirit is brewing.
Where in your church life and neighbourhood activities might you create space to begin with prayer?

L – Listen.

After talking with God, BLESS intentionally talks with and especially listens to people. There is nothing better for fostering meaningful relationships. Listen to people’s stories and struggles, challenges and opportunities, what they are proud of and what they are working through. If we want to understand people, it takes more than observing them from a distance. As we listen to people, let’s listen also to for what God is doing, and where God might want us to cooperate.
In what ways could you better listen to others as you seek to BLESS?

E – Eat.

When we want to take BLESSing to the next level, a next step is to eat with people. Learn to love to enjoy coffees and meals, in homes and cafés, when spontaneous opportunities arise and whenever there is an occasion. Join in and attend any party or celebration that happens, or help host them. Remember Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding – and he helped keep the party going! Eating together is not necessarily quick and easy, but it’s not difficult either. Look for whatever opportunities you can to share time eating and drinking together.
Where could you most easily take time and space to eat with others to make space to BLESS?

S –Serve.

As we pray, listen and share life as we eat, to take things to another level listen carefully for how you might be able to serve them. If you want to know how to serve in ways that they feel the need of (rather than what you think you would like to do), then make sure you put the Listening before the Serving. When we have ears to hear, people will communicate with us how to love them.
In what ways might God invite you to Serve as part of BLESSing your neighbourhood?

S – Share your Story.

After Beginning with prayer, Listening, Eating and fostering the relationship, and Serving, then we can also look for opportunities to share our story and the story of how Jesus has changed our life. Note this is not the first item on the list, but neither is it missing. Sharing your story is an essential element in BLESS. Listen to people’s stories, ask curious questions, then share parts of your story and sensitively include how Jesus has changed your life. You won’t have to tell your story all at once – think about “bite-size” stories that are relevant to the people you are talking with. You will have earned the right to share parts of your story, and fostered the relationship to do it appropriately, and people may even ask you and invite you to share your story.
Consider what difference Jesus has really made in your life that you can share? Be open (as you pray and BLESS people) to sharing your story as you get to know the story of others.
Be encouraged to practice one of these principles each day. And be encouraged to share what you experience and learn as you gather with other Christians at church or in your small group. Ask one another “Who did you BLESS this week?”

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