Systematic disciple making

Photo: Wilhelm Unger
Release date: 
Thursday, 4 January 2018

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)

At Renewal 2027 – Transformed by the Word: Reading Scripture in Anabaptist Perspectives in Augsburg, Germany 12 February 2017, the YABs committee (Young AnaBaptists) reflected on Matthew 28:19–20 from their local perspectives. The columns in this section have been adapted from their presentations.

I grew up in a small village in the Philippines far from cities, close to mountains, lakes and farms. I live in a close-knit community with a modest lifestyle.

We are relationship-oriented people. We share our things with our neighbours, expecting that someday you can ask for their help when you need them too. Sometimes several generations live under one roof. We tend to be emotional: Filipino has words for different intensities of feelings which other languages may not have.

In a poor community like ours, when we are in need of certain things, we ask the Lord for it. When a child is suffering from a disease, we pray for healing because it is our only option. When you have nothing, you experience miracles, and you appreciate every small act of God’s grace.

We have pastors who have barely finished high school, and only few of our church leaders were able to get a formal education. None of them graduated from a Mennonite seminary. I have a dream for our young people to be more exposed internationally, to be properly trained and to be more united in theology.

That brings me to our text: Jesus’ instructions to his disciples at the end of his time on earth.

The first step of discipleship is letting Christ own you. Being completely dependent on his will, a boat without a paddle, fully dependent on the wind. Nurturing a heart that is willing to sell all possessions and give it to the poor just to follow Christ – that’s the heart of a disciple. Just like the early Mennonites, willing to die for their faith, willing to leave everything behind to live a peaceful life in other parts of the world.

The second step of discipleship is about training, a process of learning to follow Christ. One does not immediately become a mature disciple after baptism.  

Thirdly, being a disciple means you are responsible to make disciples. Discipleship is a mandate to every single believer, not just the pastors. It’s your destiny as a follower of Christ. Jesus intentionally looked for disciples, asking them to follow him, teaching them, taking care of them – and afterward, asking them to do the same and make more disciples. It’s not a gift that only few have, it’s everybody’s responsibility.

The passion for discipleship comes from our deep understanding and full experience of God’s power and grace.

Mentoring or teaching others should be undertaken with a systematic approach.

In our Mennonite youth organization in the Philippines, we realized young people were leaving, so we created a system. In the past few months, it has doubled the number of our youth attendees and created a lot of leaders. The concept is a cycle of mentoring and teaching that promotes relationships and accountability with each other.

We select a few young people who are involved in ministry. We start training them how to be a good leader, how to teach, how to take care of new believers and how to handle a small group. As they are equipped and encouraged, they start taking care of each other, inviting friends, conducting their own Bible studies, reaching their parents, siblings and their friends, making more disciples for Christ.

My hope is that we can have a culture that encourages everyone to mentor and to have accountability to one another. And I ask those who are graduates from seminary, those who are theologians, those who have more experience – would you please share your knowledge?

If we really want to stay relevant in this world to be the voice and ambassadors for peace in this world, we need to be more intentional on our approach in obedience to Christ’s command! We must deeply soak ourselves in the love of Christ to discover unspeakable passion for discipleship. We Asians multiply by birth, but as a church, we multiply through discipleship.

—Ebenezer G. Mondez is a member of the YABs committee (Young AnaBaptists). He is from Lumban Mennonite Bible Church in the Philippines.

This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier October 2017

Geographic representation: 
Asia and Pacific