Deliberate Discipleship: An Example
I feel that discipleship is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ and missions. He spent the majority of his time on earth in deliberate discipleship. He started discipling 70 men, and then narrowed it down to 12. From there, He narrowed it down even further to 3 key men. Discipleship is also my heartbeat.
In 1988, during our second term of service in Brazil, I began seriously discipling. I started with 7, then later added another 7, then another 7, and finally another group of 9. I met with the separate groups for 2 hours weekly. I also met with certain individuals for informal discipleship during the week. These informal times were spent in one of two ways: 1) working on their personal lives, or 2) training them in ministry activities.
My ministry goal was to never do any ministry by myself, but I sought to always have a disciple with me. (Later, in a second church plant among the Deaf, I accomplished that by having one or more of my own children accompany me everywhere I went. I gave them similar training to what I gave my deacons and other disciples.)
In 2006, our family returned from Brazil to start Silent Word Ministries International. As I began to travel overseas, my goal became that of training men for deaf ministries. However, I soon found out that many of these men had never been discipled, even though they had Bible college and seminary degrees. Therefore, I began intensive discipleship with these national pastors and leaders. As time has gone by, I have increasingly made discipleship more deliberate.
As SWMI accepted new missionaries, I began to disciple them as well. As I traveled around the USA, I began noticing some very sharp young people, including pastors, missionaries, and students, who needed discipleship. Deliberately I began investing in several of them. I have seen them grow tremendously, especially in their personal and intimate walk with Jesus Christ. However, I became burdened that I needed to spend even more time in deliberate discipleship.
In the last 14 months, I have had 3 different Deliberate Discipleship Retreats (DDRs). I have 3 more planned for this year. These retreats last 7 days and begin at 6:30 am each morning. Recently, I had a DDR with 7 men in ministry, three of them being Deaf. Two are missionaries, three pastor churches for the Deaf, and two lead deaf ministries in hearing churches. I was thrilled to see the men grow in their personal intimacy with Jesus Christ as they learned to walk in the Garden of God with Christ.
Discipleship is the heartbeat of missions. Discipleship is my heartbeat. The multiplication of men for ministry drives me. What are YOU doing to deliberately disciple others? SWMI is in the business of discipling men and women for ministry!
(Contact me for my complete manual on discipleship).