The question of missions is crucial and the focal point of the Discipleship Training Ministry. The early believers were called Disciples.
The name was given by the outsiders who wanted to link the believers with Christ. What Christ commanded the Church to make is not Christians not just to go and win souls, not go and make converts but “GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES” (Matt 28:19). It was very glaring that the early church took the matter of discipleship very seriously.
“Then those who gladly received his words were baptized…. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles….” (Acts 2:41-42). This show that those who believed were not just left to grow by themselves but were assisted to grow to maturity.
1. WHO IS A DISCIPLE?
- He is a born-again person – John 3:6; ICor.5:50; ICor.2:14; Rom 8:7-8.
- A disciple is a learner – Matt. 11:29; 10:24-25.
- A disciple is a person who has voluntarily decided to take up Jesus’ yoke and put it on his neck – Matt. 11:28-30
- A disciple has surrendered his life to be tied down for the Master’s use – Mark 11:1-3; 2Tim.2:21
- A disciple is a person who loves his Master and is loyal to him. He gives Jesus supreme love. He is like David’s three mighty men – Ichiro.11:15-19; Acts 4:19-20; Matt.4:18-22; Mark 10:28.
- A disciple influences people for Christ.
2. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DISCIPLESHIP AND DISCIPLE TRAINING
- Discipleship: “This is a process whereby a Christian who has voluntarily surrendered himself to the Lord Jesus Christ is being made to become like Jesus by various exposure, activities, and discipline. Today, churches are making a mad rush of making Christians instead of making mission-minded disciples. Every disciple of Christ should be willing to be trained and, thereafter, train others.
- Discipleship training: All activities directed towards helping a disciple of Christ exhibit Christ-like character. It is a life-long process of spiritual development or growth based on a commitment to study and obey the Word of God to share in the ministry and lifestyle of Jesus.
3. DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING TOOLS
- The Discipleship Training Ministry under the Christian Education Department of the Nigerian Baptist Convention has enough resources and tools that churches can use. Unfortunately, many churches do not make use of these tools and as such do not have discipleship as a requirement for full membership. There are no better tools for raising mission-minded disciples and for church growth than the DTM materials. Well-disciplined members and mission-minded disciples are great assets to the church and the expansion of God’s kingdom. The following tools provided by the Discipleship Training Ministry should adequately be used to raise mission-minded disciples:
- Christ Indwelling Your Life: This is a basic discipleship course consisting of a set of six basic Bible studies.
- BSF Basic Discipleship Lessons: This is made especially for Baptist Students. It is an eight-week discipleship study.
- Follow the Master: This is an eleven-week study of Daily Bible Meditations designed to establish the habit of daily private devotions in the believer.
- Serve the Master: This is an eleven-week discipleship course that is very helpful and enriching for growing Christians.
- Witnessing Training Course: This study will help to learn how to witness to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
- Great Bible Teachings: This study focuses on the great teachings of the Bible, including what the Bible teaches about the Bible, sin, salvation, the Trinity, etc.
- Master Life: This is a twenty-seven-week discipleship training course designed to help committed Christians grow into maturity by focusing on six necessary areas related to Christian growth.
- Experiencing God: Knowing and doing the will of God – This is a twelve-week discipleship course by which you can learn to hear when God is speaking to you. One will learn how to see where God is working and how to join Him in His work. You will experience God working through you.
- In God’s Presence: This discipleship course of seven weeks is a study on prayers and it will help to develop a meaningful, well-balanced daily prayer life.
4. BENEFITS OF DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING
Discipleship training is a life and ministry-changing experience. It is beneficial to all who participate in it in the following ways:
- It makes a disciple to be sound in the Word of God.
- It makes one have a revelation of the gifts God has bestowed on him.
- Discipleship training helps to break the stronghold of sin in one’s life.
- It makes one a better assurance of one’s salvation.
- It makes a desire a better witness.
- Discipleship training makes the church grow.
- It equips the disciple to work effectively in the church. It also teaches the need to tithe, give offerings and serve faithfully in the church.
- Discipleship gives training on how to deal with conflicts and problems and gives tools for solving the problems in a Christ-like manner.
5. MISSION MINDEDNESS
What Does It Mean?
- To be mission-minded is to think of missions, to talk about missions not only giving to the mission but missions (Mathew 28: 19-20; Mark 16: 15-16; Luke 24: 45; 48; John 20: 21; Acts 1:8) When a disciple is passionate about the things that Christ is passionate about that disciple is truly mission-minded.
Duties of Mission-Minded Disciples
- Mission-minded disciples have to follow Jesus’ plan in Luke 10 to go work “His Harvest”. They actively seek out opportunities for conversation and friendship (acts 8: 26-38)
- Mission-minded disciples should look for creative ways to share the gospel. They understand that the gospel is not just for them but for all.
- Mission-minded disciples pray a lot (Acts 6: 4)
- They fear the voice of God and obey (Acts 16: 6-15). Mission-minded disciples go where God tells them to go.
- Mission-minded disciples send other disciples and give support to those sent. We can be mission-minded in our homes, in our neighborhoods at our jobs in the place, etc.
Characteristics of Mission-Minded Disciples
- Devotion in Reading, studying, and meditation on the word of God: Without active and systematic involvement in the scriptures, there will be no ingredient for dismission-mindedness
- Growing in maturity: The ultimate goal of discipleship ministry is producing mature, spiritual, and fully functioning believers.
- A life of prayer: Paying attention to one’s prayer life is very important. The disciple who has a consistent prayer life and spends quality time with the Lord daily will become the most effective disciple.
- Eagerness to share the gospel with ease.
- A mission-minded disciple should be teachable and disciplined.
- Faithfulness: Any disciple who is willing to be faithful to Christ and pay the price will be able to disciple others.
- Love: Mission-minded disciples, first of all, have tremendous love for others and do not want them to perish. The motivation is the love of people and the concern for their good.
- Have practical commitments to mission involvement such as training program disciples and mentoring and modeling.
Why Are We Not Succeeding in Mission?
In 1901, Andrew Murray wondered why, with millions of Christians in the world, the army of mission-minded disciples, fighting the hosts of darkness is so small and hence no remarkable achievements are made. The reasons why much success is not made in this regard are as follows:
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Lack of vision
- Lack of enough personal and regular involvement in sharing the gospel of Christ.
Rising Mission-Minded Disciples
- Fundamental Baptist Churches will say “We say “We give to missions, we say for missionaries, we hold mission conferences and send people to visit mission field.” Rising mission-minded disciples go beyond that. We need serious believers who will be vigorously committed to one-on-one personal evangelism to make them disciples. Training plays a major role in this regard.
Rewards of Mission-Minded Disciples
- Mathew 11: 28-30
- The Lord reveals His innermost thoughts and most intimate secrets to mission-minded disciples (Mark 4: 34; John 15: 15)
- There is nothing the Lord denies His mission-minded disciples that are not for his/her ultimate good and nothing He takes away that He does not replace with something better. (Psalm 34: 10, 84: 11)
- The greatest reward is Jesus Christ Himself (Hebrew 11: 6; Genesis 15: 1)
The main objective of the program is to create greater awareness in raising truly mission-minded disciples. The Discipleship Training Ministry provides useful tools to achieve this objective if well utilized. Churches should therefore gear up for concerted efforts of discipleship and mentoring. God will grant that we are mission-minded disciples by His grace.
This lecture was delivered by Pastor Abraham Olatunji Akanji at Ibadan Baptist Conference Annual Kingdom Worker’s Retreat 2021