Guest post from veteran TWR Canada missionary McDaniel Phillips
Ray asked me to step in on the blog and share about my recent trip to the Philippines where churches there are working together to renew a passion for discipleship that leads to church multiplication through outreach.
In February, I helped facilitate a Discipleship Essentials Train-the-Trainer session in partnership with Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, the Together Network, the Philippines Mission Association, and others. TWR Canada was invited to train church leaders and pastors on how to use Discipleship Essentials. Through our pilot launch in Egypt, we knew that before we could train them how to use the tool, we needed to help them create a strategy, a plan, on how to implement a renewed discipleship ministry – a plan with tangible and measureable outcomes.
The goal of this renewed effort on discipleship is to create a spiritual movement to facilitate church multiplication through a combination of evangelism, discipleship, and leader training. Another desired outcome is for the community to perceive the church as a positive influence.
Part of the training is to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of their church ministry. Some of the strengths the Philippine leaders identified might have also been noted by church leaders in North America:
- faithful, available and teachable believers
- willing leaders
- freedom to preach
They cited many of the same weaknesses and opportunities that a church in North America might have: lack of resources, lack of unity, lack of enthusiasm for the ministry.
The threats these church leaders noted are areas we could commit to pray for. The reality these people live with every day is that radicals and militants are active and have kidnapped and tortured people. Every few months the global media reports on a kidnapped national from the West being held hostage for ransom, and some of those people have been killed. The people in the Philippines have undergone armed conflict and curfews. Some of the identified threats include: religious resistance
- prone to tsunamis and typhoons
- kidnapping and ransom
- other religious groups
- peace and order (should the current political peace and order disintegrate, that would be a threat)
The Republic of Philippines is an officially secular state, but Christianity is the dominant religion. Despite this, these are the realities the Philippine Church exists within and until recently believers have taken the position of live and let live. When speaking of reaching out to their neighbours, Pastor Jeremiah said to me, "We want to do this, but we don't know how to do this."
We helped leaders determine for themselves what their goals for this discipleship ministry would be and what actionable steps they would take to achieve those goals. Our goal was to help these leaders refocus on the purpose for the Church and reclaim ownership at the local level. Yes, they need help, but our role is to equip/provide resources/train so they can disciple and multiply from their own efforts as God grants favour.
We spent a few days there and we’ll return to monitor how things are going. We have in place a staff member we call a DE Champion who will advocate, initiate and facilitate the ongoing discipleship training. We saw that in Egypt, this is a three-year process from the first training to churches taking ownership of their own discipleship efforts and seeing the Church multiply and grow mature believers. This trip is only the first step. This ministry will not be easy. By ending their apathy, believers not only face spiritual opposition, but physical threat from their neighbours as well.
Love your neighbours as yourself – Luke 10:27
Make sure to read this week's e Update to learn more about this new ministry for Discipleship Essentials in the Philippines.SaveSaveSave