Planting Disciple-Making Churches

Cynthia and I set out to plant a new church in Charlotte, North Carolina, by faith. We asked for the Rector of All Saints, Pawleys Island, South Carolina to pray for us and commission us as we left. It was August 6th, 2000.

We believed God had guided us to Charlotte and this work, but we knew almost no one there. We planned that I would continue to lead NAMS from Charlotte, but church planting would be my “tent-making” job.

I had been teaching others about church planting for six years with NAMS. I had planted a church in 1980, and I imagined that I knew what to do. I soon found that the culture of my country had changed dramatically in those twenty years, and I had to learn many new lessons in the large growing city of Charlotte. We prayed much and did the best with what we knew.

What we did know was the power of God and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We knew we had to trust God and live the Scriptures. We believed the NAMS vision for new church planting in North America was from God. We trusted the Holy Spirit to lead us.

On the very day we were sent out, God introduced us to two couples, who were visiting All Saints from Charlotte, who said they wanted to help. One of them gave us a key to their guest room over the garage, and that was our first “home.” Those two couples were foundational to all that came after. They were our first “households of peace.”

Cynthia and I prayed and read the scriptures together every morning, and I went out to meet strangers every day. That prayer time undergirded everything. It was the primary cell. We called the church King of Kings. I told everyone I met we were starting a new church and invited them to join us. I built an email list. I set in motion a ten-week training time for rising leaders on Saturday mornings. I shared the NAMS Vision for planting a new Great Commission Church. When the ten weeks ended, we found a place to meet for worship and began to hold Sunday afternoon services. There were thirteen of us on the first Sunday.

For the next few months I followed up on every new relationship that beckoned, and started a number of small house groups. A seminary student agreed to be a Church Planting Intern, and joined us with his family. We grew to about fifty-two people, when we encouraged the formation of a second church and seventeen people left to plant in another town, with the intern providing their leadership. For the following year we only added one new member. It was a time of testing for us.

With financial assistance of the AMiA we were able to hire a Youth Worker in our third year, and later a tent-making family moved from Florida to help us. We equipped our volunteers to serve wherever possible, and an old friend living in Charlotte agreed to be our worship leader. Another seminarian became a part-time member of the leadership team. We met in three different locations before settling at the local YMCA. That location helped us grow, as did moving our service to Sunday morning.

I established an early version of the NAMS Church Planting Pyramid as the structural framework of the new church: every member in a small disciple-making cell, all leaders growing as part of a leadership community, and Sunday worship. We began a weekly prayer meeting.

For the first two and one-half years, most of my support came through my work with NAMS. But, by the fourth year the church was providing about 80% of my support.

We helped cast vision for many new churches, and were able to help thirteen congregations to begin. By the end of our sixth year we were averaging about one hundred and fifty people at our Sunday Eucharist. It was a wonderful season of ministry, by the Grace of God. It showed us that one congregation, even a small one, with visionary leadership and biblical passion, could start a movement of church planting. It proved to us, again, that God provides for what he calls for.

In February of 2007 we were called away, and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. God had a new assignment for us. Leaving was hard, but God took King of Kings forward as they trusted Jesus. He was, and remains, the leader they needed.

— Rev. Jon C. Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Advertisements
Planting Disciple-Making Churches

Raising Disciple-Making leaders – A NAMS story (by Manik Corea)

Seemingly serendipitous meetings in the midst of daily living can become the setting for life-altering divine appointments by God’s grand design, and the Scriptures provide many illustrations. An unsuspecting shepherd sees a burning bush, a tax-collector sitting at his booth hears the words ‘follow me,’ fishermen are met and called by Jesus at the edge of the waters, an Ethiopian in a chariot on a desert road is met by running courier on divine duty.

I first met Isaac at the edge of a barbecue grill in England as he cooked a picnic for the members of his church.

He was barely 19 years old and was telling me about the six months he had spent in India on a short-term mission internship working with destitute young adults and children. I sensed immediately a heart for lost people and, perhaps, a calling to somewhere other than his home country.

That brief meeting culminated two and a half years later in an invitation from Jon Shuler and me to Isaac to join NAMS as an intern in Bangkok. He arrived in October 2014.

NAMS Companions are united under Christ for the work of (1) making disciples that make disciples, (2) raising up disciple-making leaders, and (3) helping start disciple-making communities or churches. Isaac is an example of the kind of disciple-making leadership that we seek to raise up through our work.

He came to us with a strong foundation of faith through the godly influence of his own family and DNA Networks, his sending church. But, in the time we have spent together these last 2+ years I have seen him grow and develop into a more confident, faithful, and faith-filled pioneering leader who now is not only a full-fledged NAMS Companion, but who has been given increasing leadership responsibilities in our global work.

How did it all happen?

When Isaac joined All Nations (our NAMS community in Bangkok) as an intern, I began to meet with him weekly for discipleship. We prayed, read Scripture, shared vision, and planned together for the work of the Kingdom. We also met one other morning with another leader, to strategize for our work and pray for NAMS Companions globally—and for those we were seeking to reach and disciple locally.

Isaac also accompanied and assisted me in two small groups I led at that time, one of which was a Great Commission Cell meeting in my home.

The other group was our ‘Questions’ group: five young Western expatriates, none of whom were believers. We explored big questions of life, like ‘Does God really exist?’, the problem of evil and suffering, and other religious worldviews. Isaac grew adept at listening and then answering such questions with wisdom, and there were clear opportunities to present the Gospel as well. This outreach group gave Isaac an opportunity to watch and learn how to do pioneering outreach in a cross-cultural setting.

Within a year as an intern, I encouraged Isaac to find his own avenues for mission. With our Thai partner church, he launched and led an English Club to teach and practice conversational English and play games on a Friday night. He began to intentionally reach out to try and disciple a few young guys, including two Pakistani asylum-seekers who were part of our community. We continued praying for people that he was building relationships through playing football and other social activities (including a young migrant worker and his family, and another young Thai man).

Isaac continues to actively disciple young people. God has opened a door of discipling opportunity for him in a Christian student hostel for university students, 80% of whom are Buddhist.

Today, Isaac is the Global Coordinator of the NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP) through which he hopes NAMS can raise up other disciple-making leaders for our global three-fold work.

We can see that Isaac is a gifted leader God has given us for global mission. We thank God for bringing him to us, and for the role he gave us in preparing him for his ministry to the Kingdom.

 

Raising Disciple-Making leaders – A NAMS story (by Manik Corea)

Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

“Do you ever meet with guys to talk about God?”

The question was joy to this disciple-maker’s heart. “Of course I do. When can we meet?”

I began to meet with two young men, Rion and Jamie, in September of 2015. We set a pattern of meeting on Tuesdays for a sack lunch, bibles in our laps, for an hour and a quarter.

I began to share with them the central things God has taught me about making disciples who make disciples. I required these things of them:

  • You spend quality time in the Word of God every day.
  • You memorize twelve scripture passages.*
  • You meet with me every week for six months.
  • We re-evaluate at the end of that time.

We always started and ended with prayer—usually me to start and one of them to end. We discussed whatever had come up in the preceding week, relating it always to Scripture (with particular focus on Jesus’ teaching about discipleship). Are you abiding in the word of Jesus?

After six months, they wanted to continue. I invited them to a men’s retreat focused on disciple-making, and they came. After a year I challenged them to begin to multiply. They formed a small men’s group, with unbelievers and believers. They began to re-evaluate their other commitments and use of time. They are becoming fruitful.

We continue to meet most Tuesdays. They have both grown in their walk with the Lord. Rion is now Senior Warden of his parish, and Jamie oversees the Youth Ministry in his parish. Both have interiorized the principles of being disciple-making men. Both are seriously engaging with other men about being disciple-making men. Both are re-prioritizing their use of time, seeking God’s will for them in a new way.

As we have grown together as disciple-making friends they have also come to understand NAMS’ ministry to the nations, and to pray with and for us. They are learning about their part in Jesus’ Final Command. Finally, both of them have become familiar with the NAMS Centurion Project, and have signed up as Centurions.

This is an example of elementary disciple-making, as I have learned to live it.

* Matthew 4:19, 6:33, 28:19; Luke 14:26,27,33; John 8:31-32, 13:34-35, 15:7-8

— Rev. Jon C. Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

Our weekly blogs, like this one, are read across the world by numerous NAMS companions, supporters, intercessors and friends. We are grateful for every one of you wherever you are reading this from. We pray that what we write and share would not only be an encouragement, but make a positive different to the quality of your walk as a disciple and follower of Jesus.

Please will you also continue to pray for us, that we would stay faithful to the work God has called us to as NAMS companions?

What exactly is that work, some may ask?

Our primary goal and work is to help plant and multiply disciple-making communities/churches through the intentional making of disciples and raising up of disciple-making leaders.

We believe that God raised NAMS up for such a time as this. We, along with faithful like-minded Christians, churches, organizations, networks and movements around the world, are calling and equipping Christians and churches to obey the final commandment that Jesus gave to his apostles and by extension, to all His Church everywhere through the ages (see Matthew 28:19-20).

We do this by being and making disciples that do the three things Jesus said his ‘made’ disciples would:

1) they will be missionary followers, whether to their neighbours or to the nations (i.e., they go where they are sent);

2) they will be plunged into the fullness of relationship and community with our Triune God and his people (i.e., they are baptized into the triune God), and

3) they will be taught to do all that Christ asks (i.e., they obey all of Jesus’ commands).

Believing this to be a serious call, we have banded together as NAMS – a working company of brothers and sisters around the world living under and accountable to a common rule and order – in order to work together for the spread God’s kingdom to all people.

But we cannot do this work alone.

By definition, the Church is the body of Christ, and so wholly dependent not only on Christ our head, but on each part of the body. For ‘we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.’ (Romans 12:5, ESV).

Therefore, we seek friends of NAMS who will pray with us and for us, and who will give to the work we are called by God to do.

If you would like to pray regularly for NAMS work in these and many other places, please write to our Global Prayer/Intercession Co-ordinator, Mary Garrison-Ruiz at mary.garrison@namsnetwork,com.

If you would like to learn how to be a friend of NAMS or would like to learn how to be a part of NAMS, write to info@namsnetwork.com.

If you would like to be a NAMS Global Apprentice, are young or young-at-heart and would like to spend a year or two in one of our NAMS base communities learning to be a disciple-making leader, go to www.namsgap.com.

If you would like to partner with NAMS in an active way locally, you can become a NAMS Centurion. Find out more at www.namscenturion.com.

Finally, if you would like to give a one-time or regular gift to NAMS, go to this page of our website to do it on-line (or, contact us if you are in the USA and wish to do a direct bank transfer or send in a cheque): http://www.namsnetwork.com/be-involved.html (click on ‘Donate now!’) at the bottom of the page.

May the words of Galatians 6:9 be an encouragement to us all today to continue the work God has begun in us: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

At the end of our global Novena gathering in April, a few of NAMS’ executive leaders debriefed in an air-conditioned room in Bangkok. We reflected on the all-encompassing nature of global mission given to Christians everywhere, for which NAMS as a missionary order was founded to serve and work towards.

At that point, reference was made to Genesis 12:1-3 – God’s purpose and promise made known to his servant, then still called Abram. We saw that morning that within the ‘first call’ to Abraham were already clear indications of God’s desire for the spread of his tent to cover all ‘families of the earth’.

God called Abraham to a walk of faith that would involve loss of family, and journey to a new unfamiliar land of both opportunity and challenge – some would curse him. Ultimately, God was going to bless him greatly, and that blessing was going to be contagious.

The blessing on the obedience of Abraham would be earth-sized – all families of the earth, all peoples – would be touched by his personal journey and obedience.

We see this in the strategic location of the promised land God gave to him in Canaan, which lies at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa, a narrow but fertile land bridge between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by arid desert. The nations would certainly pass through! And so the Israelites, the physical descendants of Abraham, were called to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ so that God might ultimately be known among the nations (Exodus 19:6; 2 Chronicles 6:32, 33; Psalm 22:27; Habakkuk 2:14, etc.)

In many ways, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 – what we at NAMS call the ‘Final Command’ – mirrors the same themes of God’s desire for obedience in His people and for global blessing through them. Only now, in the full revelation of God in Christ, it requires a response of repentance and faith to the Gospel of Jesus and the being and making of faithful disciples.

Then, as now, it was meant to go from there to everywhere.

Therefore, of all peoples, Christians cannot afford to be ethno-centric in our thinking and focus – or worse, in our prejudices. We must see as God sees, so that we do as He wants.

Indeed, in the words of the late John Stott, ‘we must be global Christians with a global vision because we serve a global God.’ God’s desire from the start was that his family would be made up of people from all families of the earth. The Apostle John saw this in his end-time heavenly vision (Revelation 7:9). He saw a truly global worship service at the foot of God’s throne, for which – surely – all our other worship times on earth ought to be dress-rehearsals for.

Therefore, NAMS Companions are called not only to work and make disciples wherever God places them, but also to pray, work and give towards the global work of NAMS and other ministries as God blesses them. This should be true, too, of all true Christians.

After all, God told Israel through the prophet Isaiah that it was too small a thing that he should only restore Israel, since his desire was that they would be a light to the Gentiles (all other peoples) that ‘my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6).

We live in days when God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled like never before in world history. It is too small a thing then that we should not likewise be passionately concerned to pray, give and work for the same?

— Rev. Manik Corea
NAMS Global Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

Church Planting in France

Those true Christians who have ever traveled in Europe will know that the evidence of past Christian faith is everywhere. Place names, existing buildings, and ruins—once symbolic of a lived faith, and used in direct support of that faith—are scattered all over the continent, but the living communities that built and named them are gone.

Here in France, about 1% of the population will attend a Christian service this Sunday, and only God know what percentage of that small number are truly his. To rekindle the faith in this land is a daunting challenge.

To this challenge, Matt & Katie Riley have given themselves. They are living, and raising their four children, in one of the most difficult places on the face of the earth to be boldly follow and serve Christ Jesus. Why?

The short answer is simple: they believe God has called them to do it. They would serve him wherever they lived, but they believe their Lord wants and needs them in France. He has work there for them to walk in. After nearly six years, they are well integrated into French life, are very fluent in the language, and have just taken possession of a new home in their assigned village. How do they do their work?

First, they build relationships with their neighbors. They are constantly open to the possibility that the next person may be a “person of peace.” They are building webs of relational connectivity – at the grocery store, the bank, the hardware store, and on the playground.

Second, they make opportunities to break bread with those they meet. Tomorrow night there is a concert in the square behind their home, and they are cooking out with a few of their newest acquaintances. They are trying to honestly and lovingly get to know them as people.

Third, they have established a simple entry path for those interested in exploring the Christian faith. They call it Discovery Bible Study. What does the bible really teach about God, about human beings, about the purpose and meaning of life? No one has to believe to participate, but the prayer of the Rileys is that—in time—some will.

Fourth, Katie has specifically begun to meet with other young mothers, to share the joys and challenges of motherhood. She is the gospel leaven in the lump.

To this date Matt has not begun regular public Sunday worship in Pontivy. That will be added when the time is right. But there is daily prayer that the kingdom will come in Pontivy, as it is in heaven.

Will you join them as intercessors for the arrival of that glorious day?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

 

Church Planting in France

Why Do We Disobey God?

Why Do We Disobey God?

“But I do not”, you might be saying. But I dare to challenge you.

As I write, Cynthia and I are just settling in to a small farmhouse in the Brittany peninsula of France. We have come for two months to help Matt & Katie Riley with their new work church planting in Pontivy. I will be directly working with Matt, and Cynthia will be painting – of course. We will also have a most needed and wonderful respite from the pace of life in the USA. Already, after only two days in France we are slowing down. There is a sublime quiet here, near the little town of Bannalec, which is intoxicating to us. We are anticipating daily times of silence with the Lord, regular bible study, regular sabbath, and the rhythm of occasional retreat. By God’s grace we hope to reclaim this pattern so we can reintroduce it to our life in the States. In the last year it has slipped away from us a bit.

I have often pondered the Sabbath command, and wondered at its beauty. From sundown on Friday till sundown on Saturday. Twenty-four hours with no work. And then, the evening of Saturday and another night’s rest. If we stopped work at 6:00 pm on Friday we would have 36 straight hours of rest and time with the Lord. If we subtract sleeping hours, 20 hours of undistracted time for God, our family, and our community of faith, as well as our own physical rest. How many of us are setting that much time apart in any given week? Why is it so easy for us to break the Sabbath? Is it different than the other nine commandments?

The early church clearly believed that the Sabbath command could now be moved to Sunday, because of the Resurrection. In the centuries of faith, the Christian community honored the Lord of the Sabbath with serious purpose and obedience. When and how did we decide that we were exempt in the 21st century? Is it alright to murder? To steal? To commit adultery? God forbid!

As an ordained clergyman, I know how easily the work of the church can become a seven-day tyranny. It ought not to be so. If we model breaking the commands of God, why should our people be any different?

The Sabbath was also to be given to those who labored for the People of God. All were to observe the day. Have you ever felt a twinge of guilt going out to eat after services on Sunday, and seeing all those who must work on the Lord’s Day so you can be served?

Might it be time for all of us to reconsider how we came to be caught up in a 24/7 cycle of life and work? How we have allowed the cares and concerns of this world to choke out of us time needed for the fruit bearing call of Jesus to be deeply planted in our hearts and lives?

Are we disobeying God?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Why Do We Disobey God?