Discipleship in Missions
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -Matthew 28:19–20
Discipleship is part of the Great Commission and thus is a large part of missions. Michael & Debbie Bannon from World Venture held a breakout session where they shared their experience of disciple-making in a variety of overseas contexts. Lyubov Zheleva, with Josiah Venture, also joined us at the missions conference, and discipling is also a large part of her role in reaching the youth of Bulgaria.
The Bannon’s mentioned three areas they see as crucial elements of discipleship:
Time: Making disciples isn’t an overnight process. It may require long evenings, many hours of listening ears, and Christ-like compassion. It is an investment into the soul of another for the sake of Christ. Expect it to take time and much patience.
The Word: Discipleship, very simply, is helping someone know and love Christ. We know Christ through the Word where He is revealed. Thus, discipleship must include spending time in God’s Word together, studying, and asking questions.
Prayer: It is the Lord who brings fruit. We can do nothing without his help. Pray together with those whom you are discipling. Show them the reliance and relationship we have with God through prayer. Pray alone for those you disciple. The church was also huge in helping Debbie pray for women she was trying to reach for Christ. They asked the church to pray daily for these women and sent them monthly calendars with prayers for each day.
It was encouraging and a great reminder to me that discipleship in missions and discipleship in our own lives is very much the same. It takes time, God’s Word, and much prayer. I would also add that it takes hospitality. I could see this trait in both the Bannon’s and Lyubov. This hospitality I’m referring to is not limited to when you open up your home. Discipleship requires hospitality where you have a posture that welcomes people into all of your life with open arms. This is the posture of Christ. We move towards people with open arms as he moves towards us.
A passion of our church is to make disciples here and help missionaries do the same afar – and we believe that this is in obedience to God’s Word. I pray this encourages us in our local disciple-making and spurs us on to pray for the missionaries we support as they labor to make disciples among the nations.