Messianic discipleship is centred around the person of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). Yeshua’s resurrected presence is experienced by receiving his Spirit. Through the Spirit, God’s covenant community is transformed into a charismatic community. A group of people endowed with spiritual gifts profoundly shaped to liberate human beings from idolatry and the allegiances and falsehoods that compete against the knowledge of God. This charismatic community is brought under God’s authority by being baptised into the Messiah. They are a body of people learning to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, learning to exercise its God-appointed role, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Between 2003 and 2008, I returned repeatedly to Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation on the southern borders of the Sahara desert. On each occasion, I was invited to present a series of missional, discipleship seminars, to two Burkinabé constituencies.
Rural-based, Pentecostal missionary-pastors and bible-school trainees associated with church-planting movement, Assemblée Evangélique de Pentecôte
Urban-based university students and young office workers associated with national youth movement, Mouvement des Jeunes Serviteurs de Dieu
On each occasion, informal feedback from participants suggested that a significant spiritual dynamic was taking place among participants during the seminars.
Between 2009 and 2013, building upon my experience of contextual leadership training, in conjunction with Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, I completed a programme doctoral research, exploring the missiological dynamics underlying my interactions with Burkinabé leaders and learners.
My research employed the perspective of contextual missiology to address theological education and discipleship in the context of Burkina Faso. My conclusions were based upon a qualitative analysis and evaluation of Burkinabé leaders’ and learners’ insights, attitudes, perspectives and hopes regarding incumbent forms of training and praxis.
Modern theological education, as generally understood and practiced today, is a wholly Western concept. Yet, over the past century and a half, it has become a global prescription. The reason for this is the successful expansionism of the Western missionary movement.
A Scripturally-based Learning Resource For Use in African Contexts, Freely distributable under license
Following 3 years of technical development and authoring, this month has seen the formal launch of “Maize Plant Discipleship.” Examining the concept, a Burkinabé theological educator stated:
“You are touching something that is not already existing. If we talk about evangelism, it may well be a new way of approaching evangelism, but we already have many methods of evangelism. But discipleship is really an innovative thing”
Imagine a narrow winding pathway, stretching off into the distance. The sides of the pathway are steep and slippery. On one side of the path is an uneven, marshy bog, on the other a dry, sandy desert. From either it is evidently difficult to escape, once trapped in one or another. Continue reading “A narrow pathway, leading to Life”→
Discipleship, in practice, relies upon winning hearts, before shaping understanding.
Discipleship is, first of all, a matter of allegiance and alliance. Loyalty and faithfulness to a core set of values. Values that may be: incarnated in a patriarchal figure (Jesus; Rev. Moon; Keynes etc.), written in a set of documents (Talmud; Mao’s Red Book; Deming’s Profound Knowledge) or represented by an institution (Vatican; Conservative Party; Google). Some form of discipleship is at the core of all people movements — be they social, political, religious or industrial. Continue reading “Discipleship and the Crises of Globalism”→
Bet hamidrash is a Jewish concept meaning “house of study.” It denotes more than a physical location, however: it denotes a way of interacting with the study of Torah. I believe there is much in this idea that could helpfully inform how other traditions, particularly that of Christianity, approach the study of Scripture.
From The Rabbi from Burbank, Zwirn, Owen (Fort Worth, Texas, 1986):
My father wanted me to become a rabbi, just as his father had wanted him to be. For the past 2000 years or so, any Orthodox Jew who wanted his son to become a rabbi would send him to a Hebrew School called a yeshiva, also called a bet hamidrash, a “house of research.” The name comes from the words bet, meaning “house” and doresh which means “to seek, ask, question or research.”
Discipleship, as a praxis, relies upon gaining the hearts of people first, before shaping their understanding.
Discipleship is, first of all, a matter of allegiance and alliance. Loyalty and faithfulness to a core set of values. Values that may be: incarnated in a patriarchal figure (Jesus; Rev. Moon; Keynes etc.), written in a set of documents (Talmud; Mao’s Red Book; Deming’s Profound Knowledge) or represented by an institution (Vatican; Conservative Party; Google). Some form of discipleship is at the core of all people movements — be they social, political, religious or industrial. Popular (of the people) movements have phenomenal potential to impact and transform societies and nations. Witness the Arab Spring. Or the Revolutions of Russia, France and America. Or Nazism. None of these would have succeeded without becoming popular movements. Or without the making of disciples in the earliest stages of revolution. Read more
In December 2000, Sarah and I flew to visit Pastor Anthony and his wife Josephine, who had organised a conference in their church, in Nakuru, in the uplands of Kenya, inviting me to teach on the subjects of Prayer, Intercession and Overcoming Powers of Darkness.
Neither Sarah nor I had ever visited the African continent before. As our plane began to descend into Bujumbura airport (in Burundi), en route to Nairobi, a loud piercing, grating noise was emitted along with sparks of white light which could be seen out of the left hand side windows. An electrical fault? Something exploding from within the hold? People speculated about these things, as the plane came to rest safely and passengers for Bujumbura disembarked. Continue reading “Nakuru, Kenya, 2000”→