Tag archieven: discipelschap

A Biblical Theology of Disciple-Making

(Summary of chapter 1 in: Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making, An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation, The Anglican Consultative Council, London, 2016)

A. Disciple-making in the OT
Being a disciple in the OT is ‘to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul’ (Deut 10.12–13). That includes keeping to God’s instructions, but also imitating or reflecting God’s character. Israel, as a whole people, was called to that kind of discipleship, by living as the people of YHWH in the midst of the nations, being faithful to its covenant with him, worshipping him alone, and living by the standards of the Torah.

aspects of such practical discipling are outlined here.
(1) The training and mentoring of a new leader
The OT gives several examples of the transition from one leader to another: the role of the older one is preparing, training, and mentoring the younger. Moses has Joshua serve under him for a long time, and gives him both encouragement and warning before passing on the baton of leadership (Deut 3.21–22; 31.1–8). God himself reinforces the lessons that Moses had taught (Josh 1.1–9). Other examples: David and Solomon & Elijah and Elisha.
(2) The discipline of the family
Deuteronomy stresses the importance of the parents’ role in teaching each new generation to walk in the ways of the Lord. This included constant reminders of the story (what God had done) and of the teaching (God’s covenant promises and commandments) (Deut 4.9–14).
(3) The teaching impact of the community’s worship
Israel had its rich and complex system of worship, which should have functioned as a means of discipling in two ways:
(a) The teaching of the priests: Priests not only brought the sacrifices of the people to the altar. They also were responsible for teaching God’s law to the people (Lev 10.8–11; Deut 33.10).
(b) The instructive impact of the Psalms: Simply by repeated singing of the words of the Psalms the Israelites would be shaped in their thinking and practice by the values inculcated in worship.
(4) The shaping function of Scripture
The whole community was to be discipled by hearing and responding to the Word of God (Deut 31.9–13). Nehemiah 8 is a remarkable occasion of community discipling, as the whole law is read through in a week, and trained Levites are on hand to translate, explain, and make clear the meaning of the words read, after which the heads of the families pass it on to their families (Nehemiah 8.12,17).
B. Discipleship in the NT
The accounts in the Gospels of Jesus the Messiah are inevitably foundational in any quest to discover what is distinctively Christian about discipleship. Jesus was doing two main things:
(1) He was giving us a model in his own actions of how to be a disciple-maker;
(2) He was allowing his first disciples to become, for us, a model of how we should respond to Jesus’ call and follow him too.

Jesus the disciple-maker
In Mark’s Gospel we see, first, how Jesus does his training of his followers. In brief we see:
(a) His first calling of the disciples, which is clear & directional, vocational and radical (3.13–19);
(b) His commitment to sharing his life with them;
(c) His intention to give time for de-briefing (6.6b–13, 30–32) and his use of recent events and teachings as an opportunity for further teaching and discussion (4.35–41; 8.27–30);
(d) His willingness to have an inner circle (Peter, James, and John) who would witness more intimately and directly three momentous events in his life (5.37–43; 9.2–8; 14.32–36);
(e) His willingness to expose and rebuke his followers, while being totally committed to their growth and restoration (8.17–21; 9.35–37);
(f) His ability to ask questions which would bring to the surface their wrong motivations or confused ideas (8.17; 9.33–34);
(g) His occasional giving of strange instructions which simply had to be obeyed ‘because he said so’ (but which would make sense later: 11.2–3ff; 14.13–16);
(h) His deliberate policy of letting them see him both in public and in private.
All of these will need to be borne in mind whenever we come to ask the contemporary question: how can we be disciple-makers in our own generation?

Following Jesus: in the Gospels
Secondly, we can see in the Gospels how the first disciples responded to Jesus. Here are the marks of authentic Christian discipleship:
(1) Jesus the teacher – we must listen to his words
We, as followers of the Risen Jesus, are to be students of the words of Jesus, attentive to his living voice, obedient to his principles.
(2) Jesus the person – we must learn from his character
Christian discipleship means modelling our lives and characters on Jesus’ own; it means living his life.
(3) Jesus the leader – we must follow his direction
Jesus said, ‘Follow me’ (Mk 1.17). This then involves the idea that Jesus’ disciples are to set out on a journey – on a journey where Jesus is ‘out in front’ as the leader. We are to go where he leads and to be guided by his directions, even if, like the disciples, we do not always understand where he is leading us.

This following, however, takes the disciples into a mission which will outlast, and in some ways surpass, Jesus’ own ministry. Jesus was quite clear that he not only wanted his disciples to go out and minister as he ministered (Mt 10.8) during his lifetime, but that they would ‘do the works that I do, and in fact will do greater works than these’ (Jn 14.12), and furthermore that he wanted them to teach others to obey all that he had commanded them (Mt 28.19–20).

This journey therefore requires numerous qualities: self-denial, exposure to risks, setting out in faith, sticking close to Jesus, and actively trusting in his guiding. So being disciples of Jesus is an all-encompassing activity, which ‘demands our life, our soul, our all’. And it is this because the person whom we are called to follow is gloriously alive. We are to trust and obey this Risen Lord: ‘listen to his words’, ‘learn from his character’, and ‘follow his leading’.

Following Jesus: in the rest of the NT (1Peter)
So what does the rest of the NT say about discipleship – this following of the historical Jesus, now gloriously raised from the dead? For now we only focus on 1Peter.

One of the most powerful ways to read 1 Peter is to see it as the mature reflections of the same Peter who had been discipled by Jesus:
(a) ‘prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you’ (1.13);
(b) ‘do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance’ (1.14);
(c) ‘Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the [a pure] heart’ (1.22);
(d) ‘Rid yourselves … of all malice, and all guile, insincerity …Like newborn infants’ (2.1–2);
(e) ‘For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution’ (2.13);
(f ) ‘Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps’ (2.21);
(g) ‘have unity of spirit [mind], sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse’ (3.8–9);
(h) ‘Since … Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention’ (4.1);
(i) ‘tend the flock of God that is in your charge … Do not lord it over those in your charge … but be examples to the flock’ (5.2–3);
(j) ‘And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another’ (5.5).

Peter’s own speech, person, and agenda have so evidently been transformed by those of Jesus. And we too can now be transformed in our own discipleship by observing Peter’s words.

A full analysis of the NT’s teaching on this theme of following Jesus would confirm that Christian discipleship is inseparably linked with both the historical and human Jesus and the Risen and Exalted Jesus. In Luke 24 we see the Risen Jesus effectively emphasising six key themes as essential for his future disciples:
(1) his Resurrection (vv. 34, 46),
(2) his Cross (vv. 26, 46),
(3) the Holy Spirit (v. 49),
(4) the Scriptures (vv. 27, 44),
(5) the Sacrament (v. 35), and
(6) Mission (v. 48).

Luke portrays these six as being the top priorities of the Risen Lord for those who want to follow in his Way. This is Jesus’ curriculum for his training course in biblical discipleship. It would be great if these six themes were each given their proper place within the life of our Anglican Communion.

Radicaal discipelschap

In het theologische tijdschrift Soteria van december 2017 schreef Sake Stoppels een boeiend en uitdagend artikel over ‘Radicaal discipelschap’, met als ondertitel ‘Vruchtbaar kerk zijn in de eenentwintigste eeuw’ (pp. 49-61).
Ik denk dat veel in dit artikel niet alleen toepasbaar is in de Nederlandse context, maar ook in de context van de wereldwijde kerk. Ik geef de gedachten die mij raakten in dit artikel hier door. Mijn reflectie hierop volgt een andere keer.

Stoppels voert in dit stuk een pleidooi voor gezonde radicaliteit. Zijn stelling is “…dat enkel kerken die hun leden actief oproepen en ‘verleiden’ tot een grote mate van toewijding aan het evangelie van Jezus Christus toekomst hebben in onze multireligieuze, seculiere samenleving” (49). Dat gaat in tegen de tijdgeest waarin ook kerken iets aantrekkelijks moeten bieden.

De auteur neemt ons dan mee naar de vroege kerk via het boek The Rise of Christianity van Rodney Stark. De vroege kerk gaat op bepaalde punten tegen de heersende cultuur in (bv. geen abortus, geen homo-seks, wel zorg voor zieken en wel gastvrijheid) en wordt door haar exclusiviteit juist aantrekkelijk. Stark zegt dat stigma en sacrifice de dynamo vormden achter de sterk groei van het christendom toen (51).
Bij stigma gaat het volgens Stark om een manier van leven die afwijkt van de omgeving. Stoppels zegt: “Er is in mijn ogen echter alle reden om dat ‘vreemdeling zijn’ verder en dieper te doordenken. [-] …het is [-] een expressie van een fundamenteel andere levensoriëntatie. En daar lijkt het wel eens aan te ontbreken in onze kerken.” (51).
Bij sacrifice gaat het erom dat we in Nederland nog steeds probleemloos christen kunnen zijn. Het kost ons maar weinig. Dat is in andere delen van de wereld wel anders. Stoppels: “Wat blijft er van ons geloof over als we dat niet in alle vrijheid en vrijblijvendheid kunnen beleven?” (53).

De kerk is niet grenzeloos. Er is ruimte nodig in de kerk als het gaat om wel of niet meedoen en om geloofsbeleving, maar die ruimte is niet eindeloos. Stoppels: “Om Paulus te variëren: ‘Waar de Geest des Heren is, is vrijheid, maar geen vrijblijvendheid'” (54). We mogen geen elitekerk worden, maar er zouden wel uitnodigende regels of verwachtingen mogen zijn die ons helpen tot een dieper geloofsleven te komen. Het gaat om een profiel dat primair insluit, maar zo nodig ook uitsluit, zegt de auteur.

Voor geluk is een fles port beter dan het christendom, heeft C.S. Lewis ooit gezegd. Vaak probeert de kerk zich als aantrekkelijk te presenteren, maar het is anders. Stoppels: “Wezenlijk leren in het spoor van Christus heeft heel vervelende kanten…” (56). Een gezonde gemeente heeft altijd iets onaantrekkelijks. Zouden we het tegendraadse en hinderlijke van het evangelie weer moeten herontdekken?

Daarbij is ook van belang dat de kerk principieel een minderheid is, ook als ze zich in een minderheidssituatie bevindt. “Kerken zouden zich in geval van inhoudelijke spanningen met de omringende cultuur een kunnen buigen over de vraag hoe ze zonder verbetenheid, maar juist positief, lichtvoetig en met humor kunnen reageren op datgene waar ze moeite mee hebben in de samenleving” (59).

Bijbelstudie-training Zuid-Soedan

In het laatste kwartaal van 2015 gingen we met een team (in wisselende samenstelling) naar acht plaatsen in de Kajo-Keji Diocese (classis) om daar een seminar te geven voor toekomstige bijbelstudiegroepleiders. Jaap had een Engelstalig  boekje gemaakt met 52 bijbelstudies en dit boekje is in de lokale Bari-taal vertaald. De groepleiders werden heel specifiek getraind om met dit boekje aan de slag te gaan.

Het enthousiasme bij de deelnemers was groot en dat maakte het een plezierige en dankbare onderneming. We hebben wel heel veel uren in de auto gezeten op slechte tot zeer slechte wegen, dat was natuurlijk wat minder. Hieronder een foto-verslag.

First seminar in Leikor

Eerst Bijbelstudie-seminar in Leikor. Levendige discussie.


Jaap geeft les in Liwolo. Rev. Emmanuel is vertaler.


Aandachtige studie in Kiri

Logo jeugd

Een groep jongeren in Logu doet ook mee


Bijbelstudie in Bori


Concentratie in Lire

Mirjam in Lire

Mirjam houdt baby vast van een moeder die meedoet met de bijbelstudiegroep

River Kala

Om in Kala te komen, moesten we eigenlijk deze rivier door met de auto. Dat gaat natuurlijk niet lukken. Dan maar een hele lange omweg nemen!


Chidi Moses (l) & Sanya David (r) geven les in Kala


De laatste training in Gaderu!

Towards Intentional Disciple Making

Report on the African Church Leaders Discipleship Congress
Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, 27-28 February 2015

By Rev. Jacob Haasnoot, Kajo-Keji, South Sudan

In this report I want to share with you what I learned and observed at the Disciple Conference I attended in Addis Abeba. After some general impressions, I will share the main points of the teaching at the conference.

General Impressions
It was in many ways a good conference. The teaching and fellowship were good and there was also time for worship (in a typical lively Ethiopian style). I was impressed with the main speaker: his experience, the content of his teaching but also his humility and spiritual focus. I had some good conversations with brothers and sisters from Sierra Leone, Uganda, Madagascar, Kenya, Egypt, Lebanon(!) and of course from Ethiopia. I met several people I knew from the time that I lived in Ethiopia myself.
It was a large conference with 2,500 people attending. The venue of the conference was very special. We met in the plenary (Nelson Mandela) meeting hall of the African Union building. We were sitting in the chairs of Silva Kir, Mugabe, Bashir, Uhuru Kenyatta and other African leaders!
The conference was organized by the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (founded by SIM) and sponsored by churches in Singapore, South Korea and the US.

African Union Plenary meeting room

African Union Conference Centre, Plenary Hall

I was disappointed about two things. First, the conference attendants were not really representing the Church in Africa. There were 2,200 Ethiopians and 300 people from outside Ethiopia, mostly Africans. Of the international delegates the majority was Kenyan. There were hardly any Nigerians, which is strange. I discovered only two Anglicans! Many denominations were not represented. Also almost all of the Ethiopians were from the organizing Kale Heywet church. There were no people from the other big protestant Mekane Yesus Church in Ethiopia and from other denominations, which is very awkward.
The other things is that there were no group discussions at the conference or the chance to ask questions. Of course that is very difficult with so many participants but it meant that we left with a number unanswered questions.

Towards Intentional Disciple Making
The main speaker was pastor Edmund Chan from Singapore. He set up an organization to envision churches all over the world in the area of Intentional Disciple making.

Chan started with the spiritual foundation for leaders who want to focus on disciple making. From Gal. 2:20 we learn 2 things:
1. Being committed as a leader is not enough. Paul talks about being crucified, which means total surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
2. Our focus needs to be on God: not what we can do for Him but what He is doing for us!

Our relationship with Christ is more important than the discipleship programs we are running.
Definition of Discipleship according to Chan:
“Disciplemaking is the process of bringing people into right relationship with God, and developing them to full maturity in Christ through intentional growth strategies, that they might multiply the process in others also”.

Four main topics were discussed:
1. See the critical need
2. Understand the Biblical strategy
3. Determine the End product
4. Accomplish the Mission

1. See the critical need: Returning the Church to its disciplemaking Roots
A. What is the situation now in many churches? Five Cries of the Church:
1. There are too many programs.
2. There are too few volunteers.
3. The leadership direction is not clear.
4. Leaders are not united.
5. Members are not discipled.

B. What symptoms of our problem do we see in churches?
1. Workers are tired.
2. There is a lack of leaders.
3. There is a lack of growth by conversion.
4. Cell groups are struggling.
5. Marriages are struggling.
6. We see broken relationships.
7. We see church members living in sin.

C. Satan’s scheme in attacking the Church: deception, division, discouragement, defilement.

The underlying problem is that Christians don’t Disciple!
D. Five misconceptions of Discipleship:
1. Discipleship just happens.
2. Discipleship takes place when people attend church programs.
3. Discipleship is only for new Christians.
4. Discipleship is for spiritual people only.
5. Discipleship is a program.

E. If discipleship is so important, why is it so neglected?
1. A lack of time.
2. A lack of interest.
3. A lack of confidence. You can not pass on what you don’t have.
4. A lack of disciples. People don’t want to be discipled.
5. A lack of conviction.

2. Understand the Biblical strategy: Authentic and Intentional
A. Seven misconceptions of the Great Commission (Matth. 28:18-20)
1. Missing the main Focus: It is about us but about Christ who has the power!
2. Missing the main Essence: It it not a message to broadcast but a ‘life to live’.
3. Missing the main Agent: Not ‘some missionaries’ but all members!
4. Missing the main Product: Not ‘making converts’ but: making disciples!
5. Missing the main Emphasis: You must go and make disciples! It is not about the manner but about the mission.
6. Missing the main Yardstick: Not the numbers but obedience!
7. Missing the main Concern: Not just ‘disciple’ but ‘disciple the Nations’! Do we have a vision for the world?

B. Four convictions from Matthew 28:18-20
1. The source of the Great Commission: All authority…
2. The scope of the Great Commission: All nations…
3. The strategy of the Great Commission: Obey all things…
4. The season of the Great Commission: Always…

C. Eight marks (indicators) of a Disciplemaking Church
1. Purpose-driven: Disciplemaking is the core mission of the Church.
2. Responsible Evangelism: People are being led to Christ and followed-up.
3. Intentional Growth Strategies: People are being developed. There is something for everyone. Ministry according to spiritual gifts.
4. Leadership Commitment: Leaders are committed to model disciplemaking.
5. The Church has a clear disciplemaking Vision.
6. There are training programs for discipleship in place.
7. There is a small group infrastructure for intentional disciplemaking.
8. We see spiritual multiplication: People’s lives are transformed and multiplication is taking place.

3. Determine the End product: Reproduce Disciples of a certain kind
A. Question is: What kind of disciples does God call us to reproduce? It helps to distinguish between conventional church values and ‘intentional disciplemaking church values’.

# Conventional values versus Disciplemaking values
1 Making converts vs. Making disciples
2 Successful programs are valued vs. Spiritual maturity is valued
3 20% does 80% of the work vs. 20% equips 80% to minister
4 Laity-led, Clergy driven vs. Clergy-led, Laity driven
5 Disciples are maid within the church vs. Disciples are made in every sphere of life
6 Church dispenses information vs. Church transforms lives
7 Asks: How many attended church? vs. Asks: What kind attended church?
8 Looks for change in outward behaviour vs. Looks for change from inside out
9 Low expectations of Christians vs. Believes in the potential of one person and the power of multiplication

B. Philosophy of Disciplemaking
Disciplemaking is all about a certain kind of person who is radically committed to a certain kind of purpose, who thru a certain kind of process reproduces a certain kind of product.
1. A certain kind of person who is Abiding in Christ.
2. A certain kind of purpose: a Kingdom purpose.
3. A certain kind of process: Life investment in disciple making.
4. A certain kind of product: a Transformed life.

C. Discipling the inner life: not the outward life but transformation of the inner life
Focus on outward life versus Focus on inner life/transformation
1 Values accomplishments vs. Values authenticity
2 Values performance results vs. Values growth and learning
3 Competence (gifts) first vs. Character (fruits) first
4 Doing good as to be looking good vs. Doing good flows out of being good
5 Esteems status and stature vs. Esteems substance
6 Competitive and boastful vs. Genuinely celebrates others
7 Reacts to criticisms vs. Responds to criticisms
8 Cannot let go of control vs. Empowers others
9 Default way of the world vs. Discipleship way of God

4. Accomplish the Mission
Five steps towards building an Intentional Disciplemaking Church
1. Establish Biblical foundations
2. Champion the Disciplemaking vision (both top-down and bottom-up)
3. Launch a prototype (start a group)
4. Put structures into place
5. Establish the infrastructure

We were then presented with three models of an Intentional Disciplemaking Church. Those were of the Covenant Ev. Free Church in Singapore, the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church and ‘Christ is the Answer Ministries’ (Citam) from Kenya. To be honest, the presentations on these models were not very clear and/or practical. I am here only giving the 5 parts of the program that Citam is using:
1. Enter: come and know, God’s special family
2. Encounter: come and grow, rooted and built up
3. Embrace: come and bond, living in love
4. Enlist: come and serve, equipped for service
5. Engage, come and go, engaged witnesses

It was made clear that you need to develop you own contextualised model for intentional disciplemaking.

See also:  ‘Thinking about Discipleship in Changing Contexts: Perceptions of Church Leaders of an Episcopal Diocese in South Sudan‘, Cairo Journal of Theology, volume 2, 2015, p. 121-131.