The Integrative Potential of Scripturally-based Discipleship

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.

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Theological Education and Scripturally-based Discipleship: Critical Distinctions

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.

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Maize Plant Discipleship

A Scripturally-based Learning Resource For Use in African Contexts, Freely distributable under license

Attribution: Florence Sipalla, CIMMYT — Source — Reproduced under licence.

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”

So, what is Maize Plant Discipleship? Continue reading “Maize Plant Discipleship”

A Blessing Prayer

Father: May the rumination of our hearts, 
Enter into the rumination of your heart.

May the gentle waves of discernment,
Elicited by falling pebbles of heavenly revelation, 
Dropping into our spirits,
Form in us an Abundance of Life.

May the wounds of our past,
Now dressed and healed by your gentle renewal
Prove the very basis
Of our own gentle touch
As we reach out to a wounded humanity.

May the passionate prayers
That once welled up in tearful angst and fearful request
Now come home to us
In fresh expressions
Of hope and faith and love.

Discipleship and the Crises of Globalism

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. Continue reading “Discipleship and the Crises of Globalism”

Intercultural Mutuality

Intercultural mutuality embraces a missional stance that looks beyond colonialism, post-colonialism, independence and even inter-dependence and partnership, as typically understood.

Intercultural mutuality implies a working relationship between people of different cultures, based upon a mutual inter-cultural appreciation and compatibility of gifts, talents, characteristics and culture—all of which is rooted in a shared, vocational commitment to serving God’s eternal purpose, the missio Dei.

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Spirituality

The great test of the validity and value of authentic spirituality is not how it fares amidst the affirmation and celebration of cultic community, nor in the isolation of physical separation from the world’s hustle and bustle. 

It is how it fares when brought right up alongside and against those places and systems and happenings and events and choices that the world-at-large finds irresistible and assumes are irreplaceable.

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Bet Hamidrash

TargumBet 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.”

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Through the River

Through the River

Through the River: Understanding Assumptions About Truth — Hirst, Hirst, and Hiebert 2009—200pp.

Jon and Mindy Hirst thoughtfully present teachings absorbed by the authors from a book by Dr Paul Hiebert (1999), using a visual analogy, based upon three communities of people living in different ways around River Town. Each community lives by and depicts a particular epistemology—a ‘truth lens’—either positivism, instrumentalism and critical realism, respectively.

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Christianity is not a religious option

Christianity is not a religious option: it is a call to service.

What we think of as Christianity is an historic faith. A faith focused upon a series of stories, describing real, historic events that took place, within the larger history of the world. And the objective reality, at the heart of all these stories, is the calling, the “election” of a people — firstly the Jews, then from amongst every ethnos — every tribe, people, language and nation (I.e. the Gentiles) — to serve God’s eternal purpose: the renewal of creation. Continue reading “Christianity is not a religious option”