As I revisit works we have planted, I discover the area we need to strengthen most urgently is being and making disciples. Are you surprised? Isn’t that what I am “going on about all the time”? Yes, but…
WE TAUGHT THE TRUTHS from the time we first began pioneering in Malaysia many years ago. But, now I realise we didn’t drill people thoroughly enough. We didn’t give them tools to practice over and over until they would become very competent and then teach others.
So, we addressed the problem and wrote up the discipling lessons we used as Following Jesus. But, the book is not enough. Just giving someone, even a ‘mature’ Christian, a copy of the manual, and saying, “Go, make disciples” is like throwing a Kairos pack at even experienced missionaries and expecting them to do it well. It simply is not enough training.
Recently, we have begun to run courses that equip people to make disciples using Following Jesus as a tool. Jesus ran a three year course, so our one-day course is not going to be enough, but it is a step in the right direction.
We need to identify and isolate certain key skills and then practice them until we master them. For example, prayer! I am obsessed with helping illiterate people to enjoy a dynamic walk with Jesus. That means they must be coached in how to pray. How? I need to give them some words, just like Jesus did.
Then, starting with those words, I teach them to expand each phrase of the prayer into a more personal prayer. They will start with “Our Father who is in heaven.” But then they may pray, “Dad, it is so amazing that I can come right into your presence, like into the throne room of heaven and talk to you like this.” Or it may develop like this, “Wow, I can’t get over the fact that I can call you, the creator of the universe, my very own father.”
And we will need to practice together many, many times for them to GET it and begin to do it on their own, in the fields or on a boat. Identify the skills, isolate them, and practice them until you have mastered them and can coach others. Do you want more help? Buy a copy of Following Jesus and then plan to attend a Following Jesus equipping day!
Jo and Jenny’s passion is to help a new generation of young people, many sons and daughters, to make disciples of unreached ethnic groups.
Jo and Jenny live in Osaka, Japan.