Today we have the privilege of featuring a blog from our great friend and partner in the 3DM/Wayfarer movement, Matt Tyler. He, his wife, and his two daughters live in Charleston, SC. There, Matt serves as the Director of Missional Living (Missions Pastor) at Riverbluff Church. To learn more about Matt, visit http://callmematt.wordpress.com/about/
Discipleship & International Missions…Same Strategy, Many Locations.
As I look around, I get excited about what is happening in the Church. I know there is much that is discouraging, but I sense a movement of the Spirit in the Church, and I believe it is going to lead to something great!
As a missions pastor, I am encouraged about the current focus on discipleship in the local church. During my time training as a cross cultural missionary, there was an extreme emphasis on learning language and culture, earning the right to speak in the life of a person of peace, and “moving in” with the people you are hoping to reach with the Gospel. The reality is that we were to “disciple” those with whom we hoped to share the Gospel long before we could clearly communicate in their language. I think the church in the United States is starting to apply this idea locally. We are seeing individuals and Missional Communities moving into unchurched areas in order to earn the right to share the Gospel.
A thing that concerns me is the disconnect between the approach of the local church to discipleship and what goes on internationally. It is almost as if there are two different ways of engaging in ministry. I have been on countless mission trips where we serve the felt needs of the people, preach a challenging message in a local church, and share the Gospel with a few, hoping that the local church will follow up. We return home, get bogged down in the day to day, send an email back to the in-country contact that we have, and the memories of our trip fade away. In a best case scenario, we form a “partnership” with the in-country church, sending resources, emailing the pastor regularly, and praying for their needs on occasion. Rarely do we engage in discipleship the same way we would with those around us. Why not?
At Riverbluff Church we have seen the benefit of intentional discipleship groups (huddles) and believe in the power of Missional Communities, so why would we not allow this approach in ministry to influence the way we engage in international missions? I have to say that we have a long way to go, and are in the early days of taking a holistic approach in the way we do ministry both locally and internationally, but I can say that I am excited about the future!
I hope that the movement we are experiencing here in the States will be carried across borders and cultures. As we plan to work in various locations around the world, we are looking to influence the local church and missionaries in those areas with our desire to “make disciples who make disciples who change the world.” We want to do more than to just help them with felt needs — we want to equip them with a strategy to make disciples while helping them with any needs they may have. All too often the missionary on the ground or the local church pastor wants to make disciples who make disciples but they just don’t know how. In the future, we hope to equip the in-country leaders with the tools to reach this goal, thereby meeting all the needs of the people they serve.
As we as a church live out the process of making disciples who make disciples, and engage the needs of those around us through Missional Communities here in our own backyard, we will be better equipped and more convinced to do the same internationally. At Riverbluff we hope to see Missional Communities strategically engaged in making disciples internationally through ongoing relationships with churches and missionaries who are part of our extended family on mission. This is our strategy to make disciples here, there, and everywhere using the same strategy in many locations!