I am convinced that the people are yearning for blessing and hope. And I am also convicted that they do not often consider the church and Christians to be the places and people where they will find that blessing and hope. Christianity was meant to be something so startling, so counter-cultural, that people would be able to tell by our actions that we are indeed Jesus followers, and be intrigued enough to get curious about Jesus and want to learn more. The way we live should be turning the world upside down and ushering in the abundant life movement that is God’s intention for all of creation.
This Lent (February 14-April 1), the Bishop and Cabinet invite all Minnesota United Methodists to take on some intentional practices of being generous, hospitable, Spirit-led Christ-like missional people that surprise the world. Beginning on February 15th, each week in the MN Connect e-newsletter, we will post a new video introducing these practices, based on Michael Frost’s book Surprise the World: Five Habits of Highly Missional People. We will also include a link to scripture and reflection questions weekly. We encourage congregations to purchase copies of the book ($4.99 on Cokesbury.com), and to form small groups to journey together as a DNA (discipleship, nurture, accountability) group during Lent. And then tell the stories of what happens as you engage in these five practices by posting on social media with the hashtag #surprisetheworld! Let’s start a movement!
Somewhere in history, the practice was begun to give something up to identify with the sacrifice of Jesus. Think meatless Fridays for Catholics. But in the early church, Lent was a time of catechism: to learn the practices of Christian faith so that the new Jesus followers were ready for their baptism on Easter that signified the commencement of a life of discipleship and witness. As resurrection people, they lived out of a different frame of reference, and it changed everything. We are to be a peculiar people who stand out, who show the world there is a more excellent way. They see the truth and power of our faith because of the way we love, the way we eat with sinners and outcasts, the way we give, the way we let God guide our lives.
There are 60,000+ United Methodists in Minnesota. What if we all blessed three people every week? What if we just started there? Would that surprise the world? Would that change us? Let’s find out! Join us on the journey to #surprisetheworld!
Rev. Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church