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Dr. Harvey Kwiyani is a professor of African Christianity and Theology at Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom. Originally from Malawi, Harvey received his PhD in Theology from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN where I frist met him. He is the author of Sent Forth: African Missionary Work in the West. He is also the founder of Missio Africanus, a new initiative designed to train global Christians living in the west to engage thoughtfully in mission and navigate cross-cultural barriers. Harvey has become a thought leader on reverse mission in which global Christians from the two-thirds world are living intentionally and missionaly in Europe and North America in hope of revitalizing Western Christianity.

 

I’m personally excited about the conversation because Harvey has been a personal friend for many years and is one the first African friends to help me understand the world of African theology and spirituality. Over lunch one day he told me about the Bantu philosophy of Ubuntu and I ran home so excited to write a blog post on the connections between the humanizing tradition of Ubuntu and the work of making disciples of Jesus. Harvey and I have spent time together on 3 continents and I have grown to appreciate him as a fresh voice in the global conversation on global theology and mission.

 

For more information on resources discussed in today’s episode:

Dr. Harvey Kwiyani: hope.ac.uk/staff/kwiyanh.html

Sent Forth book: a.co/7SvaGVV 

Missio Africanus: www.missioafricanus.org

Nate’s blog on Ubuntu: www.jesusnomads.com/2012/02/ubuntu-humanization-through.html

Nate’s video for Missio Africanus: www.vimeo.com/117239602

Global Disciple Builder: www.globaldisciplebuilder.com

Global Disciple Builder Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/globaldisciplebuilder/

Worldwide Discipleship Association: www.disciplebuilding.org

Arahdna (music on today’s episode): www.arahdnamusic.com

 

When I look at the different people around my church, and talk to them about what they know about God or listen to discussions during our Sunday School classes, I realize that many people have an incomplete understanding of even the the basics of the Christian faith.  I think the our Christian education is like swiss cheese.  There are holes in what we know, or in how we have applied what we know, or even more so we don’t know enough it seems or lack the training necessary to help others learn.

WDA has spent years considering how we need to help people grow to maturity.  I would love to say that the process of discipling someone is a clean step by step process where we learn one thing and go on to the next.  The difficulty is that we tend to leap around without a clear idea of what we need to know and what we need to teach.  WDA has a progressive plan for helping people grow.  We begin with the basics and using tools such as the R-CAPS grid, we make a plan that allow people to grow in phases.

The challenge for any disciple building process is that people don’t always begin with one person at the beginning stages of faith in Christ and continue with them to maturity.  The disciples were with Jesus as he discipled them over a period of three years.  Not only were they with him, they left their jobs and followed him for the majority of that time.  This is not only impractical it’s seems impossible in our modern context.

My experience as a discipleship pastor has shown me that building disciples takes more time than I ever expected. Some contexts provide a more robust opportunity such as the college campus, however the week by week discipleship in the church means that we have to commit to stay with one another long enough to grow.  Having a plan enables your ministry to know not only where you are going but you can build out that plan, considering the time and commitment necessary to see people grow to maturity in your context.

RCAPS
With WDA’s R-CAPS Grid you can learn to see that discipleship is more than content alone, but is structured around relationships, focuses on application, involves praying with and for one another and builds situations where people can learn with others and do ministry.

WDA is working in a variety of ministry settings, with our 28/20 project, our Restorative Ministries, our International Leadership Training and Next Generation Ministry.  One thing that we have learned.  Discipleship requires a plan and takes time.

Take some time to learn more about our philosophy of ministry by reading Disciple Building a Biblical Framework.  Contact WDA to learn more about how you can develop a plan for your church and ministry which can help fill in the holes and develop leaders for years to come.

All our words, from loose using, have lost their edge. – Ernest Hemmingway

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Jesus (Matthew 16:24)

What is discipleship?  It is a word that has come to mean both everything and nothing and this is largely because our efforts to define the word normally relate to the actions associated with discipleship rather than understanding the core issues involved.  This is why in some circles discipleship has come to mean evangelism, in other circles it means bible study, scripture memory, and the pursuit of personal holiness, still in other circles it means being active in missional engagement.

But these things are the fruit of discipleship, not the tree itself.  To define discipleship in these terms would be like describing marriage as sex, or parenting, or filing for joint bank accounts.  It certainly CAN describe the word, but it definitely doesn’t encompass it.

And if we’re honest, this is a big problem right?  Jesus left us with a central command to go into all the world and make disciples, and many of us can’t even agree on what that means practically.  But if we’re honest, our problem doesn’t really come from a lack of understanding, it comes from our unwillingness to swallow the distasteful words that Jesus plainly speaks.  Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me.

The truth is that we have selfish and rebellious hearts that chafe under the command to humble ourselves and submit to the will and authority of one who is higher than us.  The truth is that we are afraid of any cross, because we are afraid of death and pain.  And the truth is that our claims to “follow Jesus” are related much more to our minds and words than to our hands and feet.  At least this is the truth about me.

Is it really more complicated than that though?  Has the word discipleship lost the edge that it was intended to have?  At WDA we’ve thought about this a lot; take some time and check out some more of how we’ve tried to work this out in the day to day and please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Jesse DukesAuthor:  Jesse Dukes
Jesse leads LocalScope a WDA Next Generation Ministry

Why Your Church Doesn’t Need an Arts Ministry  –

(this article first published at atlantaartsnetwork.com)

 

Some Churches start out to have an Arts Ministry hoping that there will be a influx of new creative people; maybe they hope to keep on the cutting edge of church planting. With goals that center around building a program or ministry they forget that Jesus’ kingdom was about bringing restoration to a broken world. Your church doesn’t need an Arts Ministry, your church needs to fulfill the call of Christ to make followers of Jesus who learn how to live like Jesus lived!

Artists, like all people benefit from being part of a healthy church that keeps the central priorities of Christ as the focal part of life and ministry.

The first priority that Jesus calls us to is found in Matthew 28:19: Go and make disciples.
The second priority is to teach them all that Christ commanded.

Sitting in-between these two commands is the context. Jesus tells us to bring new followers into community, symbolized by the command to baptize, where we become one with Christ and part of His body the church.

I think of the best way to minister to artists or creatives is by inviting them into relationship with others. Once artists are part of the church, they, among other followers of Christ, can grow to maturity. As people grow as young believers toward maturity, they have the opportunity to learn how their particular life and calling is guided by Jesus. They will be encouraged and challenged to do their work to the glory of God and find other artists and creative people that share their passion and love for the arts. They will also develop relationships with others who may become a “friend” of the arts who do not share a similar calling but love and support their work.

This community becomes a mosaic where people grow together to fulfill the purposes of God. Jesus will use his people to share the gospel and help see people become disciples who grow to maturity. Artists and others in the same body support one another as they fulfill the great commission. Each learning where they fit together in Christ’s kingdom.

So how does a church help people grow to maturity? You might want to read, What Jesus Did/ What We Can Do, by Worldwide Discipleship Association and look at how Jesus helped his disciples grow. WDA has more resources that look more deeply into the process of Christian growth. We also have staff who provide consulting for your leadership team who may want to design and build a strategy for discipleship for your church.

Author: Buddy Eades

Buddy is the Coordinator of the Atlanta Arts Network, WDA’s new ministry to Artists based in Atlanta. The Atlanta Arts Network: Connecting, Creating and Cultivating through building a Network of Artist and Worship Artist communities throughout Atlanta.  For more info about AAN visit atlantaartsnetwork.com

Wade Ewing is the US director of African Inland mission, an organization that has been reaching out to unreached people groups in East Africa for over a hundred years.

Wade carries a peacefulness and quiet resolve which make him winsome both as a Christ follower and as a leader. Through decades of ministry and organizational leadership from his start as an African bush pilot to his current role helping to shepherd an organizational culture, Wade has cultivated a good humored gentleness and genuine interest in the contributions of others.

I sat down with Wade in his office to hear more of his story and to understand why in his view, humility is the key to everything from developing leaders to changing a culture.

For more information on resources discussed in today’s episode:

Global Disciple Builder: www.globaldisciplebuilder.com

Global Disciple Builder on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/globaldisciplebuilder/

Worldwide Discipleship Association: www.disciplebuilding.org

Africa Inland Mission: www.aimint.org

Tim Coons: www.giantsandpilgrims.com