I am a person with big dreams and great plans. I always want my plans to work-out the way I want it to happen. And whenever the results of my work did not meet my expectations, I easily get disappointed. It was my belief before that you make your own destiny. Until I encountered God. [Read more…]
Many times in our response to be obedient to God’s command based on Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations”,we often wonder does discipleship really work? Are you one of those who tried hard to pour out much of your life to a particular person (discipling them) and then after that you discovered this person goes back to his or her old lifestyle of sin?
Or maybe you saw one promising disciple with a lot of potential, gifted with a lot of talents, groomed to be the next promising young leader to be used by God and then suddenly fell into sexual immorality? What happened?
Does Discipleship really work?
Who can forget the story of Noah in the Bible? Called “A Preacher of Righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), Noah was bold, courageous, anointed, passionate in calling the people of his generation to forsake their sins and return to God, yet after he lived for 120 years he did not see a single convert (Yes, you read it right NOT A SINGLE CONVERT). Noah is a classic example of a faithful witness (Faithful than most of us combined) out there who didn’t see a lot of results.
In the New Testament we see the story of the greatest church planter and disciple maker of all time, Paul, but even himself has his own share of setbacks found in 2 Timothy 1:15 when ALL (not some or a few) his would be disciples in Asia deserted him.
Even our Lord Jesus himself after doing miracles left and right, raising the dead, healing the blind, feeding the multitudes, teaching them in the synagogue with His powerful wisdom and inviting them to follow Him as His own disciples, many still deserted Him (John 6:66) when they realized the cost of discipleship was just too much.
Can you relate to this? Maybe you have been sharing the Gospel to your family for years, and not one has come to believe in Jesus. Maybe you have shared One2One with your classmates and co-workers but have never seen the fruitfulness and the changed life that you expected. You feel that you’re the worst disciple-maker of all time and therefore conclude discipleship doesn’t really work at all.
Nevertheless, God’s word cannot fail, and He reminds us of His word in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV) – So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Many times we are too focused with the results, worst, we think we are capable (by our own strength) of transforming the lives of those we disciple. But God did not entrust the results in our hands rather he has called us to be Faithful in sharing the gospel, the results belong to Him.
I was reminded of the story of the late George Smith. When George Smith felt called to be a missionary in Africa he immediately responded to God’s calling on his life but due to persecution he only stayed there for a few months and left only one convert, a woman.
Not long after that, he died on his knees praying for Africa. To some it look like George Smith’s ministry was a dismal failure. Discipleship in the eye’s of carnal men who surrounded him taught discipleship didn’t work.
Some years later, a group of men stumbled onto the place in Africa where George Smith had ministered. They found a copy of the Scriptures he had left behind, and they met the one woman convert of his ministry, who led them to the Lord. Later a missions organization did a study and determined that 100 years after George Smith left Africa, 13,000 people had come to faith through his ministry as one person discipled another, who discipled another, and so on.
Again, does discipleship really work? The answer is a resounding Yes. Jesus promised that if we obey, surely He is with us until the end of Age (Matt. 28:20) and the power of the Holy Spirit is already inside of us (Acts 1:8) so we can become faithful witnesses.
My dad once invited a guest over to the house for coffee, and asked me to tag along. The guest was a pastor of one of the more ‘mature’ church congregations in Iloilo.
By mature I don’t mean that their members are old, but that they’ve been around for quite a while. He had asked to meet my dad about using the facilities of his business for that small church. The pastor was telling us about his church, and all the great things they were doing as a ministry. They weren’t that big, but it was obvious that pastor loved his church. It wasn’t long until the all too familiar question came out of nowhere:
“What is Victory’s secret?” Of course that meant, “Why is your church big?”
The answer to that question has always been the same. I always just answer two things:
1. I don’t think Victory (even as a national body) is big.
2. It’s because we have the best ministers.
Since 2005, Victory Iloilo has been growing by 100% every 3 years. That basically means that every 3 years, we double in size. It’s not miraculous, but by the Grace of God and through the dedication of Victory Iloilo’s leaders, we are now hitting the 1,200 attendees mark.
It’s crazy to think that only 2% of churches across the world ever hit the 1,000 mark, and Victory Iloilo is blessed to be one of them. I have to admit though that it’s not because we have the best preaching, the best worship, the best doctrine.
It’s because we have the best ministers, and I’m not just talking about the pastors and staff. In Victory we have hundreds of ministers, because we’re all about discipling disciple-making disciples.
2 Timothy 2:2 instructs us, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
God’s design for the church is simple. It’s us (existing leaders) entrusting to reliable men (their Victory Group members), who will also teach others (the Victory Group member’s members). The greatest arsenal a church can have is a congregation that’s more than ready to do the pastor’s job, and we at Victory are blessed to have those kinds of people in our church.
That’s why come this July 2, we’re going to appreciate our leaders through one big event- because without them Victory Iloilo won’t grow the pace it’s growing now. It’s because every member is a minister. It’s because pastors aren’t the only one sharing the Gospel. It’s because we have a discipleship process that fast tracks spiritual growth.
Bill Hybels wrote in his book, Courageous Leadership, “The church is the hope of the world.” It’s God’s purpose to have big, growing and victorious churches across Panay, across the Philippines, across the world. The game plan is simple- we build churches through discipleship.
If I were to summarize what I have learned during my Ignite experience into one word, it would be PURPOSE.
When I became a Christian, and I started having a relationship with God, he started to reveal to me the reason why I exist in this world, and that He created me for a purpose. But I went on and continued with my journey in life, and I became busy doing the things the world demands. I still knew my purpose but it is not something that motivates me to wake up in the morning anymore. It was there, but I wasn’t there with it.
When Ignite was being introduced to us, I decided to go even if I did not feel like going because I know that deep down in my heart God is going to rekindle something in me during that conference.
Little did I know that He would let me burn with that purpose I received a long time ago- to let the whole world know that His love is the greatest love of all! Jesus is the answer!
Today I am beyond grateful for making the right decision to go. He reminded me that I am not just an ordinary person. He has called me to do great- even greater things! He opened my eyes and made me see what he can do to my campus.
I was a passive Victory group leader back then. I did not have the burden to reach out. I wanted people to come to me, instead of me reaching to them. I realized how ungodly I was and how selfish I had been to keep the Gospel to myself. Jesus was never like that. He has always been about reaching out to the lost.
God exposed impurities in my heart and restored me while I was in Araneta Coliseum. He has given me a new heart and a new spirit. He told me that I can change my campus and at the same time influence the world by being excellent in the marketplace he has put me into. There may be struggles ahead but I am an over comer.
I am a world changer. This is not my battle but this is God’s. Therefore, I am confident that the victory is already ours! Even if my faith is as small as a mustard seed, I can say to the mountain, “Move from here to there.” and it will move because nothing will be impossible for me. This is the power God has given to me as His daughter.
I have decided to use this power. I am not going to waste it! Changing the world is not going to be easy. We will have to do it one campus at a time, but it is going to be worth it!
Caroline is an Every Nation Campus Iloilo leader from University of the Philippines in the Visayas. She recently graduated from her college degree last June.
I’ve attended a lot of conferences in our movement and I can attest that every event is a divine encounter with our God and a confirmation of my calling to be a light and salt of this world. This year, everyone is excited to be part of a huge gathering of students all over Asia and that is “IGNITE 2015”.