What’s in a Word?

‘Disciple’ is the word most commonly used for a follower and believer in the risen Jesus in the book of Acts.[1] Jesus instructed us in his final command of Matthew 28:18-20 to ‘make disciples’ as the overarching focus and mission of his post-resurrection church, as told to his appointed pioneers of that universal church. And we know from Acts and the rapid spread of the Gospel in the Roman world in the first few centuries that this was certainly their practice.

Yet, being a disciple today may mean something entirely different. How often it is in churches around the world as I’ve traveled, that I have found discipleship to be reduced and redacted to something less than it should be. It is often seen only as a short-term follow-up course or program for new believers or a description for adult Sunday school classed or bible studies for serious believers. At worse, it is seen as synonymous with other popular words like mentoring and coaching. John Ortberg, Christian pastor and teacher comments thus:

“Words pick up baggage, so disciple, a great New Testament word, has come to mean a time-limited process that you can finish. Growing up, I’d hear people say, “I’m discipling him.” They meant, we’ll meet for a while and then we’ll finish and he’ll be discipled. That usually involved getting together at Denny’s at 6:30 in the morning and working through some kind of curriculum. The New Testament never uses disciple in that way. To be a disciple of Jesus was something all followers did in community, and did their whole lives long.”[2]

He is of course right – Discipleship that is not life-long and reproducing is neither biblical nor Jesus-pleasing. God has taught us at NAMS that we must call the Church of Jesus Christ back to an understanding of discipleship as Jesus and his apostles taught and lived it.

The good news is that we are living in days when the word ‘disciple’ and the work of ‘disciple-making’ is being recovered and reclaimed through the sovereign work of God’s Spirit around the world by missionaries, pastors and leaders as never before.

There is a greater realization today that being and making disciples is a fundamental call and work for all obedient followers of Jesus. We live in days when disciple-making movements around the world are paving the way for new church-planting and Gospel transformation in previously unreached people groups.

In the same vein, NAMS as a missionary society was founded in 1994 to model, train and call the church and all Christians to obedience to Jesus’ final command to make disciples of all peoples. We do this by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and seeking to plant disciple-making churches.

In this new year, it is our prayer and hope that together, we can be growing and reproducing disciples of Jesus, so that his Kingdom may come on earth and His Gospel reach the ends of the earth.


[1] See for example Acts 6:1-2, Acts 6:1-2,6:7; Acts 9:1, Acts 9:1,9:10, Acts 9:10,9:19, Acts 9:19, 9:26, Acts 9:26, 9:38; Acts 11:26, Acts 11:26. Butler, Trent C. Editor. From entry for ‘Disciples’. Holman Bible Dictionary. Accessed at http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/d/disciples.html. 1991.

[2] John Ortberg in ‘Holy Tension’ – interview with Leadership Magazine. Accessed at http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2004/winter/1.22.html


If you would like to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, you can find the following resources on our website that can help you be obedient to Jesus’ final command:

www.namsnetwork.com/assets/dmdsteps.pdf  An e-book clearly outlining a 7-step process to become a disciple who makes disciples by Canon Revd Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General.

Praxis is a 4-week small group training course on how to be a disciple-making disciple. The workbook for this course can be found at:
www.namsnetwork.com/assets/praxi-course-workbook_v2.pdf
with a facilitators/leaders guide at:
www.namsnetwork.com/assets/praxi-course-leader-guide.pdf

You can also watch our 7-part YouTube video series on being and making disciples: go to www.youtube.com and type ‘NAMS Disciple Making Discipleship Course’ in the search bar.

This resource is an offering to the Church universal to begin to apprentice, learn and practice the ‘family business’ that is the vocation and inheritance of all true Christians.

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What’s in a Word?

A Harvest Amidst Difficulties (By Rev. Andres Casanueva)

Last year in September, just before I was due to board my flight to Cuba on a visit to the brothers there, the airline suddenly cancelled its flight. Hurricane Irma was due to hit the island. It eventually destroyed much of the island’s fragile infrastructure. The very next month, I was finally able to visit the country. It was an important visit.

At the end of 2017, we had planned to hold a NAMS Latin America-wide retreat in Chile. We invited 9 church-planters and leaders to attend from Cuba, but encountered great difficulty in securing visas for them to travel. However, once more, the Lord intervened, in answer to our prayers. Only 4 days before the Retreat, everyone was granted visas to travel!

After they begged us to come over to help them, we planned a follow-up retreat in Cuba for 2018. However, 3 times, we had to change our planned dates because of various difficulties. Finally, I traveled alone to the island in October to make a final attempt to coordinate one, which will now take take place in December of this year.

During this trip, I was able to visit our NAMS connections in Havana – and to meet many new brothers and sisters there for the first time. I also connected with the leaders we knew in Cienfuegos.

And although we still face many difficulties (lack of resources, visa requirements, lack of places to meet, etc.), we believe that with our brothers and sisters, a new pioneering community has been birthed under NAMS in Cuba for the glory of God.

All this reminds me of the longing of the apostle Paul, writing his letter to the Romans 1:13, where Paul expresses his strong desire to see them soon. Paul planned his trips, but there were difficulties that were beyond his control. And still, the work went on. And finally Paul managed to visit them and encourage them in their faith.

Twenty centuries later, we also continue to trust that the many difficulties we face will not stop the work of God, and we can be sure that our plans will be fulfilled in the perfect time. We have no doubt that the Lord will provide the visas for the 3 brothers on the NAMS team travelling from Chile, as well as every dollar that is required for transportation, lodging and food for the Cuban brothers to host us and others.

We believe this retreat will greatly strengthen the faith of our Cuban brothers and that we will receive into full communion with us, the community gathered in Ciefuegos. Please pray and partner with us in this great adventure of faith into Cuba in the midst of a great challenges.

 

Revd. Andrés Cananueva is our NAMS Regional Team Leader for Latin America. He leads our NAMS Base Community in Temuco, Chile.

A Harvest Amidst Difficulties (By Rev. Andres Casanueva)

Disciple-Fu (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

For several years as a teenager and as a young adult I studied traditional Kung-Fu. Like the funny panda in the martial arts cartoon movie, I love Kung-Fu! It started on Sunday afternoon when we got home from church. About four o’clock, black belt theater came on. From that point on I was hooked. No one in our city taught Kung-Fu. There was karate and other forms, but no Kung-Fu. It had to be Kung-Fu. Then one day, a new school opened. Could it be? Yes! Boom! I could be living the dream!

In two years I became a black belt in shaolin Kung-Fu. You could come as often as you desired, and I did. We trained hard every day. Over time, I picked up the pedagogy of the Sifu (teacher). He modeled it. I imitated him. He corrected. Then he would show me what each technique meant. Later he would match us up for live boxing. Each practice made us sharper. Each practice moved us from jerky reaction to calm response, even in the heat of battle.

It has been thirty years since that time. I still remember the techniques and training. I still love Kung-Fu! You might be asking, what does this have to do with discipleship? It has reinforced the idea of apprenticeship pedagogy into how I disciple others. In the last few months, I’ve begun to practice with some old buddies. We are also starting discipleship. I’m calling it Disciple-Fu. We train to be followers of Christ and fishers of men, then we train in Kung-Fu.

This training pedagogy was taught by Jesus through a pattern of Model, Assist, Watch and Launch (lead). Jesus used the common life of people to develop them into the people he intended them to be. They learned together. Practiced together. Jesus corrected and explained to them why things didn’t work and the meaning behind the teachings. He made sure that they had the confidence and competence to do the work. It takes practice. It takes seeing it done successfully and in failure.

Training in this manner, we learn to pass on quickly what we have learned. In turn we become better because we are still learning and growing. While I still love kung-fu, I love being a disciple of Jesus more. It is great to see God work in people’s lives and they embrace the disciple making lifestyle.

Go Train – Make Disciples.

 

— Pastor Clay Hamrick
Mosaic International Church,
Jacksonville FL

Disciple-Fu (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

Come and Join Us In 2018? (By Revd Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General)

Why wouldn’t you want to join the community of NAMS in 2018? Seriously?

I find myself asking this question after experiencing the most wonderful retreat earlier
this month with eight of our global society who live in North America. We met in the
beauty of holiness at the Christian Retreat Center known as The Close, nestled in the
midst of the Daniel Boone National Forest in the state of Kentucky. Of all that we did,
just being together again as friends and fellow Companions of Jesus was central. We
laughed and sang, we worshipped and wept for joy, we ate and drank, we prayed
together and in silence, we brainstormed and planned for the New Year, but most of all we listened for the “still small voice” of the Lord together. And then we all headed
back to the “place of our assignment” to serve the Lord and his church.

The relational connection that comes to us in this community of gospel servants is a gift from God. So too is the encouragement and support we find as men and women who are obeying the command of the Lord Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.” Also a gift from God is the accountability that it places in our lives, to the Lord and his Word, and to the covenanted life we have promised to pursue together.

I for one would not know how to carry on without this band of brothers and sisters in
Christ that he has given me in the global family of NAMS. We are serving on every
continent. We are a hidden “clan” within the wider church of Jesus, bound together to
“work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God” in the particular calling of new church planting. It is a wonderful gift to belong to such a religious order.

Would it possibly be true that you who are reading this may be called to join us in some concrete way in 2018? Would you pray about this and seek the Lord for his will in the matter?

How can you join us? There are many ways, but here are five, in ascending order of
commitment:

1) Join us as regular contributing NAMS Partner. Even a starting gift of $25 per
month will help the gospel go to the nations. Go to ‘www.namsnetwork.com/be-involved.html’ to begin doing so.

2) Become a dedicated praying NAMS Intercessor. Set you phone to remind you
to pray for us at 10:02 am each day. Ask the Lord of the Harvest to raise up laborers to go into the harvest, as Jesus commanded in Luke 10:2.
Contact Mary Garrison at ‘mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com’, our NAMS Global Prayer/Intercessor Co-ordinator, to become a prayer partner with us

3) Become a NAMS Centurion. Be one of the men and women who are taking up
the call to help spread the gospel right where you live, in covenanted partnership with
NAMS. Sign up to be a NAMS Centurion. Go to ‘www.NAMScenturion.com’.

4) Volunteer to be a NAMS Global Apprentice. Give a year or two to the Lord to
serve in the mission field of his choosing for you. In North America, Nepal, or Norway. Wherever he needs you. Go to ‘www.namsgap.com’ for more information.

5) Decide to become a NAMS Companion. Begin the journey of discovery that
leads to a life under rule in our global missionary society. Write to us today at
info@namsnetwork.com.

Will you join us this coming year?

— Jon Shuler

Servant General (NAMS)

Come and Join Us In 2018? (By Revd Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General)