Avondale Seminarian on collaborating with the Spirit as a disciple of Jesus
Dr Kayle de Waal is head of the seminary and a lecturer in New Testament at Avondale College of Higher Education. He shares thoughts about his new book, Mission Shift, as a contribution to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s discipleship initiative—and what discipleship means for him—in this question and answer with Signs Publishing Book Editor Nathan Brown.
The Adventist Church is using Mission Shift as part of its focus on discipleship. What does the book add to this initiative?
I hope it provides readers with a theological and a biblical framework in which to engage in discipleship. I also hope it encourages readers to practise and to experience discipleship—particularly planting new churches. The church is latent with leaders. The job of pastors is to find these leaders and empower and release them for ministry. Grow leaders and you’ll grow the church.
What does discipleship mean in your life and work?
It means Jesus is growing bigger in my life every day. It also means leading my family in a walk with Jesus that is real and transforming. In relation to work, it means caring for my students, providing a listening ear, offering prayerful support and being a good mentor. It’s a privilege to lead Avondale Seminary. Our job as seminarians is to produce pastoral leaders who’ll be disciple-makers and soul-winners. At an institutional level, it’s also about helping the church rethink and re-engage in creative missional practice that’s reflects the principles of the gospel.
Why is it worth persisting with church despite its challenges?
I love the church because Christ loves the church. It’s His body, purchased with His blood. As such, it’s a community of believers who love Christ and seek to put Him first in all they say and do. It’s not perfect, but it’s the chosen means God uses to share His light and love with the world.
In Mission Shift, you argue we need a “third reformation.” What do you mean and why is it necessary?
The third reformation for which I’m calling is a reformation of structure. The structure of the church must serve the mission of the church. For far too long the mission of the church has been the servant of the structure. This reformation must begin at the local church because that’s fundamentally where the power of the gospel changes lives. The chief architect of this reformation is the Spirit—pastors and members are collaborators. It’s the Spirit who initiates and activates change. So, as we walk in the Spirit—to use Paul’s language—we’re empowered to begin the work of reformation.
As we remember the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s work of reformation, what can we learn for the church today?
The church in the West is largely complacent, so it must always be reforming. This work of reformation is tough and takes skilled, prayerful pastoral leadership.
What responses have you received to your previous Signs book, Ancient Words, Present Hope, that remind you of the importance of Bible study for who we are as believers and as the church?
The Bible provides our methodology and means for discipleship. We don’t achieve the means because we don’t apply the methodology! The methodology for the entire Christian life and the fulfilment of the church’s mission has been developed by Jesus.
Which of the common themes in your books are most important to you?
Jesus! Nothing and no-one else matters. When we’re consumed by Jesus, we’ll be consumed by what matters to Him!
Purchase books by Kayle de Waal
Mission Shift and Ancient Words, Present Hope are available from Adventist Book Centres in Australia and New Zealand or from hopeshop.com.PURCHASE