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The Call of Discipleship

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Written by Guest Author

This past September, Imago Dei Anglican Church began participating in a two-year learning community led by Mike Breen’s team from 3-Dimensional Ministries.  Four times over the course of these two years, Imago Dei will be joining a group of other New England churches in Boston to work with a team of discipleship coaches.  The Imago Dei team includes rector Father Justin Howard, Curate Mother Piper Runnion-Bareford, and lay leader Trevor Gordon.

This past March the team spent a week discussing our Leadership Pipeline.  We began with a SWOT analysis, honestly assessing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats present in our current discipleship culture within the Church.  Biblical teaching and discussion pushed us to prayerfully consider the challenge to make disciples.  The disciples of Jesus Christ developed the character and spiritual competency to reflect the nature of Jesus, and when He returned to the Father they knew how to effectively engage the world for Christ.  We therefore asked ourselves, do the structures and priorities in our churches create missional leaders who passionately pursue God, have the competency to dynamically lead a missional community, and have a zealous desire to spread the Gospel?  Do we know how to create leaders that can start such a movement?

For this kind of leader to emerge, four characteristics are key:

  1. Character:  Our disciples need to be taught, shown and challenged to pursue an interior life of hearing from God and obeying what He says.
  2. Capacity: We need to asses our disciples’ lives, identifying how much time and space they have to lead, and honestly looking with them at their own level of physical, emotional and spiritual health.
  3. Chemistry: Is it good when we spend time and work together, and are we having fun?
  4. Calling: Each disciple has a calling, a specific work from God set aside for them to accomplish.  Are we willing to ask if the work at hand is the one the LORD is inviting them to join?  Is it the right time?

Our group was invited to confess and repent of seeing people as potential cogs in a machine called “Church.”  This also required us to develop a clear leadership pipeline that disciples individuals and allows them to grow into their calling, rather than throwing them into a place because it needs to be filled.  To develop this pipeline we spent a whole afternoon praying over these areas of our ministry:

  1. Vision: Where is the LORD leading us?
  2. Values: What do we consider to be most important in our walk together as a Body?
  3. Vehicles: What are the kingdom and covenant spaces the LORD has provided specifically to Imago Dei to reach our vision?
  4. Valuation: How do we evaluate success?

The final teaching which was brought home was on the strength that the LORD provides as we function in unity as a five-fold ministry team.  All the gifts are needed:  apostles (those given vision and a desire to set out for new places), prophets (those who hear from the Father’s heart and direction for the church),  evangelists (those who carry people outside the church on their hearts and bring them consistently to the attention of the body), pastors (those called to love and challenge the people of God to grow in Christ), and teachers (those given the ability to teach and explain with clarity the word of God). Often leaders try to fill all five offices, but each person has a ministry specific to them.  We were taught and challenged to identify our base gift while continuing to grow in our “phase” ministries that stretch us in each area.  If a leader can honestly assess themselves and identify their base ministry, then he or she can begin inviting those with other gifts to help discern and obey the LORD.  This helps navigate unclear situations and alleviate the drain and potential burn out of functioning too long outside one’s base ministry and calling.

The best part of training was the individual coaching, along with being able to spend time digesting and applying the material within our team.  We came home refreshed and ready to live the mission that the LORD is laying before Imago Dei.  We are especially excited to have been able to invite Father Justin’s coach up for a June weekend. She will be teaching our congregation and coaching our leadership team in effectively making disciples.  3DM’s vision is to raise up missional leaders that are deeply connected to their Father, hear and obey His voice, are filled with the Spirit, are competent to do His work in the Body, and are on mission together, all for the purpose of bringing healing and salvation to the world.

If you would like to know more about our 3DM journey and the work the LORD is doing through it, please get in touch with us!  You are also invited to join us June 5-7 at the Bangor Diocesan Ministry Center for our leadership equipping weekend with Gina Mueller.  There will be more details to come!

~ written by Mthr. Piper Runnion-Bareford, Imago Dei Anglican Church

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