"Developing Missional Disciples" Roundtable Discussion Recap

On March 14, 2018, Mission Central (Missions Fest Vancouver) hosted a roundtable discussion for mission pastors and outreach leaders. The purpose of the event was to stir reflection, share wisdom, and questions around "missional discipleship."

The event kicked off reflection for the 2019 Missions Fest conference theme: “Mission: Discipling.” Jonathan Evans (Boundless Vancouver) was the facilitator of the event. Sixteen years ago, he helped begin an incarnational community in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, 614 Vancouver. Currently Jonathan is planting a church, Boundless Vancouver, and pioneering Infinitumlife.com with his colleagues to create missional disciples in the 21st century.

Church experience, cultural background, age, and faith tradition (among other factors) trigger different concepts of discipleship. Here is the list of words associated to “discipleship” that were cited by the participants of the discussion:

• difficult (x2),
• mission,
• follower,
• discipline,
• strategic,
• incarnation,
• relationship,
• no word,
• following,
• love + compassion,
• surrender,
• mentorship (x2),
• shepherding,
• discernment,
• alongside,
• friendship,
• evangelism,
• apprenticeship (cited by a pastor at a subsequent pastors meeting)

Brainstorming by group 1 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.
Brainstorming by group 1 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.

Jonathan, the facilitator of the discussion, offered two questions:

a) What qualities of a disciple do we need to ensure we are cultivating to engage the church in God’s mission today?

b) What methods of formation, practices and curriculum can produce question one’s outcomes?

Discipleship is about “witnessing what Christ is already doing in somebody’s life,” said Jonathan. This resonates with me, as it acknowledges the missionary nature of a God who is already moving and reaching out to his children with or without our intervention. Our job in evangelism and discipleship is to listen to God on how He wants us to join the work that He is already doing in everyone. “Being willing to step out of your comfort zone” was mentioned as an important quality of a disciple, as it implies love, trust, and obedience to the lead of Jesus in our daily lives. Being “available” (part of a FAT acronym) was another quality. Business is often an obstacle in our discipleship. A simpler lifestyle and schedule may be one way to follow Jesus more closely.

Brainstorming by group 2 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.
Brainstorming by group 2 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.

“It has to be ‘discipleship’ not ‘recycleship'… Discipleship should go beyond having coffee with people to make them feel good,” mentioned one of the participants. There needs to be an element of modeling towards multiplication: experiences where the “disciple” watches (shadows) his mentor doing evangelism. I agree. Discipleship is not an end, but the means to reach this hurting world with the love of God.

There seems to be a real interest in knowing what methods or processes of discipleship are working. One of the participants pointed out that part of the discipleship process should include inner healing. This resonated with me as, “hurting people often hurt people.” Could part of the inner healing include sharing vulnerably during that process so others (insiders and outsiders of the faith) get to see how Jesus heals?

Finally, as Jonathan shared, discipleship ultimately happens in worship, in the church and in the sacraments: Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. It was when Jesus broke bread with his walking companions to Emmaus that they got the revelation of who had been walking with them.

A very interesting question was proposed: What are churches doing that interferes in the process of discipleship?

Brainstorming by group 3 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.
Brainstorming by group 3 for qualities and methods of discipleship. Click to view full size.

Resources

These are some resources on disciple-making initiatives that have been bearing fruit in Metro Vancouver, North America, and in the majority world. Most of them were kindly shared by pastor Addison Lacasse.

Churches in Metro Vancouver using 3DM Disciple Making materials:

Churches in North America involved in DMMs (disciple-making movements):

Additional resources

Bibliography

  • "The Cost of Discipleship," Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • "Masterplan of Evangelism," Robert E Coleman
  • "New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church," Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
  • "One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow," Scot McKnight, Yom
  • "T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution," Steve Smith with Ying Kai
  • "Contagious Disciple Making," David & Paul Watson
  • "Intentional Discipleship," Sherry Weddell

Mission Central (Missions Fest Vancouver) thanks all who made time to engage this conversation. We pray that the connections and ideas shared will bear fruit.

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About the author

Profile photo for Claudia Rossetto

Claudia Rossetto (BCS, M.A., D.Min.) is originally from Bolivia where she managed the department of information technology at Food for the Hungry, a relief and development organization. She holds an M.A. from Regent College and a D.Min. from Carey Theological College. She is passionate about evangelism and missionary discipleship as Jesus’ good news for those affected by the lethal impact of social isolation in the world. She has been deeply shaped by her church community, Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in east Vancouver, which is aware of colonial memory, active in social justice, and aims to extend radical hospitality. Claudia served on staff at Missions Fest Vancouver, now known as Mission Central, in a variety of capacities over many years, and now works for Baptist Housing Ministries.

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