Friday, April 18

Is discipleship really our priority?

Confession time... As of today's writing, April 18, I, Guy Muse, a disciple and follower of Christ have not discipled a single person this year. I am truly embarrassed. It is the skeleton hidden in my closet that I don't want anybody to know about.

Everyday for the past two weeks and continuing for two weeks more, our team has been teaching groups of fifteen pastors who are coming to Guayaquil from all over the coastal region of Ecuador. They are being introduced to our COSECHA (Harvest) discipleship/church planting training materials that will be used to reach the goal of 1-million disciples in one year.

The heart of the training is making disciples. The only way to win/disciple a million in a year is to begin making disciples that make disciples. Nothing new. But are we doing it? Am I doing it?

If we are out there everyday exhorting everyone about the priority of making disciples, who am I discipling? My biggest fear everyday in the trainings is that someone will bluntly ask me who I am discipling! It happened the other day. Instead of answering, I ask one of our co-workers to share about the disciples they were working with.

Don't get me wrong...I do my fair share of witnessing with taxi drivers and people whom I cross paths with in my daily living. And of course, like everybody else, we do a lot of Gospel sharing when volunteer teams come down. But that isn't making disciples, is it?

In the daily trainings it is shared that if we would just win and disciple ONE person per year, and they in turn do the same, in 32 years the whole world would be saved. Yet after 50+ years of Baptist presence in Ecuador we can claim only some 28,000 believers. What this says is that we aren't even discipling ONE PERSON per year! Something is terribly, terribly wrong!

On our team of twelve (2 IMBers, 10 nationals) we have adopted the language amongst us about asking one another about our disciples. This is to stimulate us and exhort one another to be about doing what Jesus said to do. I can guarantee you that my most frantic prayer these days is that God would give me at least one soul that I can report back to our team that I am discipling.

What is even more embarrasing is that the youngest believer on our team who was baptized 14 months ago has 17 new believers she is discipling every week. I doubt Monica could tell you the names of the books in the NT, but she is making disciples in two house churches along with her husband Medardo and daughter Aneida.

But I am not alone in my embarrassing confession. In each of the trainings with the daily groups of fifteen pastors we ask them for a show of hands of those who are actually discipling someone. Out of the nearly 150 pastors we have met with so far, maybe 5 have raised their hands saying they are actually discipling someone.

Question. What are we doing? We are certainly busy. But doing what? In all the stuff that we are doing are we actually making disciples? I fear the enemy has us so distracted with all kinds of good activities, but in the midst of all we are doing, can we honestly say we doing what Christ commanded?

Do we need to start an AA group for followers of Christ who don't make disciples ...Hi, my name is ____, it has been three years since I last discipled someone...

With all the attention in our denomination and organization over tertiary issues, it is truly amazing that no one seems to be asking the infinitely more important question with eternity of souls riding upon its answer: are you actually making disciples?

What are you doing to encourage a disciple making movement amongst your community, people group, town, sphere of influence?

P.S. I have an appointment this coming Monday evening with a family who live in one of the upper class neighborhoods. I am praying desperately that the Lord would allow me to lead them to Jesus and then begin with them the discipleship process. Would you please pause a second and pray for this Monday night meeting in their home? Thanks.

22 comments:

dorcaslhawker said...

Guy -

I will be praying for your Monday night meeting. And, wow, what a convicting post. Thanks.

GuyMuse said...

Dorcas,

Thanks for stopping by and for the prayer on Monday. BTW, be sure and stop by the IMB booth at the SBC in Indianapolis to meet you. We'll be there, Lord willing, and the 'creek don't rise'!

Manny Fernandez said...

Ah, I think you have put your finger on the point that is the weakest for all missionaries. Not only do many missionaries fail in this area, but most have incomplete concepts of discipleship. Perhaps the greatest book I have read on discipleship is Robert Coleman's "Master Plan of Evangelism." It is short yet powerful and highly motivating.

You are in my prayers!

GuyMuse said...

Manny,

Not only is this a weak point for missionaries, but all believers in general. If every existing believer would commit to making only one disciple per year, the whole world would be followers of Christ in four short years! The fact of the matter is that very few of us actually take seriously Christ's words to disciple.

CmlCros said...

Guy---
Thanks for the honesty. Here may be part of the problem.... We recently did a teaching time on discipleship with our team. The person leading asked our group to openly share about someone who had discipled them.....out of 22 people...2 raised their hands...2...It's hard to pass on something we're not ourselves experiencing. In the last 16 months I've sent in over 65 language reports yet not once have I been asked about my walk with the Father...why? Because we don't value it.

When we went through the appointing process we were asked to share the last time we led someone to Christ. The better question would have been, "Tell me about the last person you discipled and how you're currently being discipled."

Good stuff.

GuyMuse said...

cmlcros,

It does seems like we are asking the wrong questions, doesn't it? I totally agree with you about the endless flow of reports and meetings, but when are we going to ever get around to addressing the big issues that really impact reaching a lost world for Christ? Discipleship is not the priority by a long shot. There are at least a dozen other priorities ahead of it, and the results show.

Burkhalter Ministry said...

Guy,

Thanks for bringing your thoughts and experiences into the light. I know that God will give you someone as you ask for it.

Travis

PS That is truly amazing that people can have the title "pastor" and they aren't "shepherding" any disciples?

GuyMuse said...

Travis,

It is not just the 'pastors' who do not shephered, but what about everyone else who consider themselves to be disciples? Are we all not called to make disciples?

When dialogging with the pastors what we find is very similar to that of missionaries. We are busy doing the "Lord's work" of preaching, teaching, etc. but when confronted with actually doing what Christ said we are falling short.

Darrell said...

Amen Guy! This is HUGE! I often ask people this question. Everyone loves to nit pick theology and concepts about the church, but when asked if they are making disciples who are making disciples the conversation ends.

Cmlcros, GREAT observation. I know I have felt this same void in my own life. It is hard to create what you have never experienced.

This is the question and this is our greatest sin. Until this changes nothing will change!

Rock On Guy! I will join you asking God for someone to disciple. I am asking God for this right now in my life as well. I am glad that this really bothers you. IT SHOULD! I know I am very uncomfortable with this in my life. There is no excuse. Jesus commanded it and if I love and believe Him I will obey.

Dion said...

Once again, good stuff Guy. I've been discipling, but not seeing my disciples discipling, that's my frustration, something isn't quite right yet.

I saw you're going to Indy, when is that? Any chance you'd want to come to Columbus, OH?

GuyMuse said...

Darrell,

Thanks for the word of encouragement. I think this kind of interacting with one another to encourage is what Heb.10 is referring to ...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds... We need to spur one another on to help remind us of those things we ought to be doing if we claim to be disciples of Christ.

Dion,

I'd love to pop over to Columbus but we still haven't gotten around to planning that leg of the trip, so don't know what we'll be doing after the convention, but we'll keep your invitation in mind. Thanks!

Deborah said...

Okay, Guy, may I challenge this "not discipling" post just a bit. If you're working with leaders then you are discipling. Discipling in the basics of Christianity is not all there is to it, imho. Jesus spent 3 years with his disciples.

If the work is to continue multiplication of ourselves is just as important. I think we see less of this in the States than we do on the field. How many preachers open up their pulpits for those that are called to preach to give them a chance to learn. How many pastors have someone that they are "training" for ministry. And even other workers in the church, are they training someone how to do what they do? (teach ss, work in the nursery, visit the sick, etc.)

My husband is on the field now because our home pastor nurtured what God was doing in our lives. (And he is still very active in discipling us along even after all these years.)

We have to prepare folks for the "work of ministry" and I just believe that is discipling as much as working with new believers. We do need to do both, but we need to be sure that we are training leaders to replace us!

Keep up the good work with your leaders. You're just multiplying yourself.
Blessings,
Deb

Rhea said...

Baptised 14 months ago and discipling 17 new believers?!?!?!

Monica rocks!!!!!

Praise God for how He's using her in such a mighty way to impact the Kingdom of God!

She's seriously a certificate or a plaque or something though! To be honest, I doubt that most American Christians even simply share their faith 17 people in their entire lifetime. Monica could teach the American church so much about evangelism and discipleship!

GuyMuse said...

Deborah,

Funny you should write what you did. I just finished responding to a long letter from my mother who was basically saying the same thing!

I guess there is a fine line between 'leadership training' and 'discipleship'. As I tried explaining to my mom, I realize that 'discipleship' is more comprehensive than simply one-on-one working with new converts. What I am getting at though, is that if all of us define discipleship as something we are doing with existing believers--call it leadership training, development, mentoring, etc.--and nobody is out 'making disciples' of those who do not know the Lord, then it is no wonder that after 2000 years the world is still "lost"!

So yes, I do a great deal of 'discipling' existing believers. But is that the intent of Christ's command in Matt. 28:19-20?

Again, thanks for sharing the "other side" of this issue of the importance of multiplying ourselves in others. Your words, like those of my mom, ring true and bring balance to the discussion underway. But in saying wisely what you do, let us not forget the 5-billion others out there who do not know the Savior. We are sent to 'make disciples' to them as well.

Rhea,

Thanks for the kind words about Monica. She and so many of the others we work with really inspire me as well. If you like to read more about her and her family click on these earlier posts What a difference you've made in my life, and here.

Timothy said...

hey....i was wondering if you have found a version of the bible that you prefer to use in Ecuador, a lot of people don't understand the form of vosotros so i was thinking of nblh's as an alternative to the more common reina valeria or whatever it is, any suggestions? i am not sure how the translation is i just know they don't use vosotros and that seems great to me to make it easier for ecuadorians to understand the word

GuyMuse said...

Timothy,

Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. While Reina Valera continues to be the most popular version of the Bible amongst our people, we generally try to have on hand for our in-house use the Reina Valera Actualizada, or the NVI (Nueva Version Internacional). I am not familiar with the NBLH. What is this version?

Timothy said...

hey.....the nlbh is just the version i found online that is as far as i know similar to the niv but without the vosotros form of speaking, i have not had the time to read much from it to tell you whether or not it is reliable, but it is a much easier read, especially considering that in ecuador the church is the only place ecuadorians use the form vosotros

Timothy said...

just found this online

Using the LBLA (La Biblia de Las Americas) as the basis, La Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos has sought to make a Bible that is more readable while retaining a literal translation philosophy. From my use of it over the last few months, I think they've done a good job. The most striking change is the dropping of "vosotros" and using "ustedes" in its place. For most in the Americas the only time vosotros is used is in religious talk or Bible reading and it can have the effect of detaching scripture from reality. IT can have the effect of making a "spiritual vocabulary" which tends to make the Bible just a little less accessible to the masses. I think that this translation if widely adopted will do wonders for making the Word of God available and accessible to the common people in Spanish-speaking America.

Background & History

Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos (NBLH) uses La Biblia de las Américas (LBLA) as the foundation for this new work. It was inspired by the growing demand of today's Hispanic in the United States of America and throughout all of Latin America. While La Biblia de las Américas uses the formal form of Spanish (Vosotros), the Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos uses the less formal form of Spanish (Ustedes) and incorporates features to help the reader deeply understand the text. Also, the NBLH continues its commitment to accuracy, while increasing clarity and readability. Vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure have been carefully revised for greater understanding and smoother reading for today's demanding Bible reader.

Read it. Live it.

Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos is a faithful translation from the Sacred Scriptures as they were written from the original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This edition is presented as another contribution to the translation of the Sacred Scriptures in our language of today, in this beginning of the third millenium. It has been produced with the desire that the Message of the Word of God be presented in such a way that will help every reader study and understand His Word, whether the reader is seasoned in the gospel or is just starting to walk in the ways of the Lord.

i hope this is helpful, it was for me..... i'll take mine out tonight and start using it to see how it is

Timothy said...

u could read it for yourself at this link

http://nblh.bibliaparalela.com/isaiah/40.htm

Timothy said...

also do u have any good resources for worship songs in spanish?

GuyMuse said...

Timothy,

Thanks for the info about the NBLH. Sounds interesting. I will keep my eye open for its availability here in Ecuador.

As for songs, we have compiled a 3-volume "Salmos, Himnos, y Canticos Espirituales" that we use in our house churches. I would send you an electronic version of it, but it was done at a local printers, and we do not have an electronic version. We are currently working on getting all the songs recorded so that they can be learned by new believers by listening to the CD's.

Timothy said...

glad to know it was of interest....
thats a great idea about the music,if you ever get the music or the lyrics/chords online let me know....