Go read, heed and feed

Monday, July 24, 2017
Why Seventh-day Adventist Church is supporting books about discipleship

Discipleship is so important to spiritual life the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific now has a department to help ensure it remains so.

The church’s Team Leader of Discipleship Ministries Dr Leigh Rice is a minister with experience in church administration. The Discipleship Ministries Team brings together a number of the church’s ministries and departments for a greater focus on discipleship. As part of this strategic focus, the team has supported the publication of two books—Mission Shift and Following Jesus—among other resources. Rice answers questions from Signs Publishing Book Editor Nathan Brown about discipleship and about the books.

Why is the church giving such a strategic and spiritual focus to discipleship?
Jesus commanded His church to “go and make disciples of all nations” and the church has taken this command seriously. Our mission is to “call” all people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to “proclaim” the everlasting gospel and to “prepare” people for the soon return of Jesus. Strategically, the church is prioritising disciple-making, maximising the use of media and health ministry with a focus on the big cities with populations over one million where the church has been less effective in making disciples.

How are books valuable resources for discipleship and spiritual growth?
The Bible and other Christian writings have always been valuable in giving instruction and insights into discipleship and the disciplines that help Christians grow their spiritual life. Most of us learn from the spiritual journeys of the Bible characters and earlier Christian leaders.

Why are these two books—Mission Shift and Following Jesus—important to the focus of the Discipleship Ministries Team?
They each consider discipleship differently. One gives a biblical rationale for the local church to focus again on disciple-making. The other encourages the reader to explore the pattern of Jesus in making disciples. We see the study of these books as a catalyst for a renewal of the early Adventist movements that focused on making disciples and planting churches.

What do you like about Mission Shift?
Mission Shift considers the challenges facing the church in the developed world and gives a biblical rationale for the local church to focus again on disciple-making. Dr Kayle de Waal shares great insights from the writings of church pioneer Ellen White and contemporary research. Mission Shift is a good read for all local church leaders and may help a church board refocus the church for disciple-making.

Dr Peter Roennfeldt has become a significant teacher of disciple-making process and principles throughout the South Pacific. What does his book add to that work?
Following Jesus is an in-depth chronological reading guide of the life of Jesus, which reveals Jesus’ approach to making disciples and building the foundations for the early Christian movement. This book is a great opportunity for church members to re-discover the life of Jesus. A group here of us in the church’s head office is finding great blessing in sharing insights from the book.

How will the Discipleship Ministries Team know if this focus on discipleship has been successful?
We’ll know we’ve had success when church members move from talking about the Great Commission to begin making disciples. New disciples will create a need for planting new churches and, as new disciples become more like Jesus Christ, societies will be transformed. Where there are more disciples across the South Pacific, there will be more kindness and honesty, and less corruption and family-based violence.

the One project Avondale 1:1

Avondale Seminary Head and Mission Shift author Dr Kayle de Waal describes the local church as the future of Seventh-day Adventism but says it must biblically reinvent or become irrelevant. Respond to the challenge at the One project’s Avondale 1:1 gathering on August 12. The “Following Jesus”-themed gathering is supported by the South Pacific Division’s Discipleship Ministries Team. It also features Following Jesus author Dr Peter Roennfeldt, who will speak about the method of Jesus and lead a discovery Bible reading. Regular registration closes July 28. www.the1project.org




Nathan Brown

Nathan is Book Editor at Signs Publishing. He is a former magazine editor, a published writer and an author or editor of more than a dozen books. He is also a co-convener of Manifest, a community exploring, encouraging and celebrating faithful creativity.