Over the last few years, our discipleship team has undergone some perspective changes that have led to a different view on how we partner with churches and what God is already doing in Hungary.
One of the most frustrating things in modern life is when your phone dies. Whether you have an important text coming or you just want to take a photo of your food. Either way, a dead phone is nothing more than a reflective paper weight.
For so long, this has been our view of evangelism. We go out and try to share the gospel with lots of people and feel good about doing that, but then, much like a phone that never gets plugged into a power source, people run dry. People in the church like to use the term “baby believers” for new believers, so then, in what world would someone ever say it is okay to leave a baby alone to fend for itself?
First thing’s first, missions has been one of the biggest proponents of this kind of thinking and we need to and are apologizing for this and trying to correct how we function.
Instead of just thinking in terms of discipleship and evangelism as two different things, we are recognizing that evangelism is a part of discipleship, both in hearing the gospel for the first time and in sharing one’s faith. This is still a concept many believers are wrestling with. We have adopted terminology that has started to become more prevalent in the church: disciple-making, an individual disciple being known as a disciple-maker.
The general process of discipleship (disciple-making) looks like this example from Dan Spader in his book Disciple Making Metrics, however we would extend the first chair further, thinking about it as someone who might be anti-christian.
Therefore, this has led us to a new strategy on how we work with our partners. Through many conversations the following have become our main convictions and filters on how we approach discipleship:
- Intentional – Rarely do things grow and progress without a level of intentionality.
- Mutually Agreed – Disciple-making should be a process that is understood and committed to.
- Progressive – Disciple-making is a dynamic process exhibiting progressive growth both numerically and in spiritual maturity of disciples, which in turn produces multiplication. A progressive strategy equips disciple-makers with the vision, understanding, and skills to reproduce disciple-makers.
- Occurs best in intimate community – Discipleship happens best in intentional and accountable small groups of 3-6 individuals who are the same gender. While one-to-one disciple-making can result in growth, this type of vertical arrangement is heavily dependent on a mentor, can often devolve to counseling sessions, and frequently leaves the mentor out of the growth process.
- 360° – Disciple-making is relational and happens best when everyone is growing together horizontally and vertically in relationship with Christ.
- Simple – Disciple-making should be a simple process of growing in the likeness of Christ. A simple and clear process is preferred over a complicated or cumbersome program.
- Reproducible – It is Christ’s desire that disciples multiply and He has chosen to work through people to make new disciples. Therefore, not only is a simple process necessary, but it should also be transferable.
- Connected to the local body of Christ – While there are different methods that yield some level of growth in the lives of disciples, groups should be connected to the local body of Christ. The idea being that they are to look outside themselves and avoid a “huddle” mentality.
In Hungary, we have been using a process called Banding Together by Jon Wiest that focuses on John Wesley’s Band setup as the foundation for growing new believers into disciple-makers.
The way this works is that groups of three or four will meet together asking questions already laid out around what they have been reading in scripture, allowing time for confession, and praying for specific people who do not know Christ. Acknowledging that for someone to be growing in Christ, fruit looks like praying for and reaching out to others.
A lot of this relies on the Holy Spirit and asking Him to stir each other into action and to trust that He is already at work in others.
Discipleship has so much baggage with it, and it is not all bad. It means a lot of things to a lot of people: a program, a one and done, different sized groups, different levels of intentionality, etc. We have taken the approach that disciples make disciples and should be raised up and walked with. Our faith is not our own, we are merely walking a path, one that many others have already walked and will walk after us. Disciple-making is just that, walking that path together and asking more to join in with you.
– By Daniel Buck, OMS Hungary Team Member