Resetting a Mindset

BLESS
Five Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World
by Dave and Jon Ferguson
Salem Books, 208 pages

Reviewed by Tim Ciccone |  October 21, 2021

Being a “Gen Xer” (people born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s) means I tend to be immediately suspicious when anyone tries to sell me something. One of the hallmarks of my generation generally speaking is our skeptical mindset. For me, this is mostly an internal dialogue—one that God has chipped away at as I have grown older. Through the years this internal cynicism has been particularly heightened anytime I hear of a new evangelism tactic or model.

To be honest, that was my initial response when I was first introduced to BLESS: Five Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World, by Dave and Jon Ferguson. My initial cynical assumption was that this was just a gimmicky effort that I wouldn’t resonate with—another acronym that at first glance felt annoying and likely not genuine. Don’t get me wrong—I fully acknowledge and affirm the biblical calling of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to help people who are far from God find and follow Jesus. This is the work of the Holy Spirit building the kingdom of God.

What has been refreshing for me, to my surprise, about this book is the humble disposition and focus the Ferguson brothers bring to this conversation. Their focus is on blessing one’s neighbor—and making intentional space for the Holy Spirit to do the work. The Fergusons juxtapose the difference between having a “converter” mindset (those whose sole intention is to convert others) and a “blesser” mindset (those whose intention is to bless the people God has brought into their lives). It is an invitation to love people into the kingdom of God in practical ways.

But the Fergusons don’t just focus on the theological/spiritual side of the evangelism conversation—they also spend ample time sharing relevant applications for everyday lives. For example, the “Who Is Your Neighbor” tool instructs readers through the process of intentionally praying for the eight neighbors closest to their home. The “Simple Tool for Storytelling” highlights and coaches to clearly communicate a person’s Jesus transformation story. There is even an appendix that offers fresh ideas of blessing your community during a pandemic.

The BLESS evangelism mindset is based on a simple acronym and framework:

  • Begin with Prayer—to bless our neighbor, Jesus invites us to begin with prayer.
  • Listen with Care—to bless our neighbor, Jesus invites us to be great listeners.
  • Eat Together—to bless our neighbor, Jesus invites us to eat with them.
  • Serve—to bless our neighbor, Jesus invites us to serve them.
  • Story—to bless our neighbor, Jesus invites us to share the story.

I invite you to join me in setting aside any cynicism, fear, inhibition, or lack of evangelistic vision and engage the challenge of this book to join the Holy Spirit by practically blessing our neighbors. This book brings just the challenge we need to grow toward this missional mindset.

For God’s glory, friends, and neighbor’s good

About the Reviewer

Tim Ciccone serves on the Make and Deepen Disciples Team as the Director of Youth Ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has served the ECC for 27 years in local and denominational ministry contexts. He is also the author of In Transit: A Youth Worker’s Guide to Navigating a New Beginning. Tim and his wife Maria live in Minnesota and have four wonderful children and one fluffy dog.

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