It is impossible to imagine the life of a faithful Christian without discipleship. The believers follow Jesus all their spiritual life, long for His light, and try to let His wisdom penetrate their souls. In other words, the faithful are the lifetime students who learn by the example of Christ, taking His atonement as the center of the doctrine of the Christian discipleship. The process of disciple-making requires many efforts from both the spiritual side and the organizational one. The true progress is not possible without such aspects as the friendly community in the local church, the professional supervision of the pastor, the vivid examples from the lives of the saints that help the person continue his/her development. There are many problems and difficulties that can occur on the way of discipleship. The words from the Gospel of Matthew are very symbolic in this case. According to the Sermon on the Mount, the Christians must go and baptize all other nations, and make disciples of them all.
The current work is the disciple-making plan, featuring the main aspects that help to create the appropriate ministry context for communication with the Lord. It is based on the principle of the 5 V’s of ministry, which is vision, values, views, vehicles, and verifiers. A peculiar issue is that the target audience for the ministry will be the youth from one poor district. The disciple-making process is a complicated and challenging task to cope with. Making disciples of people who live in difficult conditions is even more challenging, but still, it is the ministry that can save those who need it the most by letting them learn the love of Jesus.
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The path of a pastor cannot be easy. It supposes that the pastor is a spiritually mature disciple, and so he participates in the life of the faithful actively. Such activity is impossible without certain problems that are connected with the private sphere or the issues in the community that need to be changed. Otherwise, it is possible to assume that the pastor prefers not to see the evil and not to hear about the real problems from the believers, focusing only on the theoretical questions of the Biblical studies.
God has given me the energy to change the injustice around me and made my heart open for the wisdom of the Gospel. That is why I would like to change the situation in the poor areas of our city. The Christian faith can give hope for the better future to many people who suffer from social disasters like poverty, home violence, sexual abuses, drug and alcohol addiction, juvenile delinquency and others. More to say, faith and hope can decrease the number of suicides because religion gives people the aim to live for.
I would like to focus more on children and teenagers from poor families because they are exposed to all possible evil and temptations. In addition, it is easier to protect them from becoming anti-social since their youngest age. Children are usually more open to the words of Jesus than the adults, who have already understood that they are the great sinners. Juvenile delinquency is among the most urgent problems of contemporary American society. It affects the families where such children and teenagers live, their teachers, neighbors, and, what is even more important, these children themselves. Delinquent conduct often leads to injuries, criminal behavior in future, incarceration, lack of education and, as a result, poor professional perspectives, drug, or alcohol dependency. Only intervention into the upbringing process at the earliest stages can prevent possible delinquent behavior. There are many programs that aim at decreasing the delinquency rate among the juveniles, but the problem still exists despite the active work of teachers and psychologists. It is possible to assume that the earlier the problem is addressed, the lower delinquency rate will be.
However, if the various social problems are not that effective as they are supposed to be, it might be a good idea to introduce the Christian forms of coping with the problem. Regular worship services, brotherhoods, vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools, and other Christian activities can help greatly in creating the positive Christian worldview since the early childhood, form the ethical rules that will protect these children from evil temptations, and start the disciple-making process as soon as it is possible.
These children and teenagers will receive the attention they need even more than their peers from normal families. An ability to talk about the problems in the family, integration into the community, high academic performance, and positive school attendance help make the risks minimal. The pastor and the Christian small group will make all possible attempts to talk to their parents, to explain the importance of loving their children, they will help children to communicate with the others and become more diligent in studies. The examples of parents in general and spiritual parent, the pastor, in particular, are essential in becoming a decent person. As the Bible says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Psalm 119:9)”, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). Young people do not have enough wisdom to cope with the problems that appear in their lives for the first time. If they make a mistake, it does not necessarily mean that they are evil. Perhaps, they need more wise supervision from the adults. I can assume that reaching the young is a perspective area of ministry that has all the chances to give the most significant results in the disciple-making.
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It is possible to assume that the core value in the Christian ministry is the Great Commission that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:18-20. It supposes that the main thing that His followers need to accomplish is to go with the words of Jesus to the other people, baptize them, and teach the wisdom of the Gospels. This is the main thing in the discipleship because it supposes personal spiritual development and the ministry every Christian has to perform. The love that Jesus radiated to everyone and the love that His disciples need to express towards every human being is also one of the key moral issues in the disciple-making process. In fact, this principle is used by thousands of Christians every day, when they go to their local church, pray, and help the poor.
Teaching and the process of disciple-making are closely connected with each other. It is written in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 about the love that God gives people, the Apostle Paul who is also ready to radiate love, and this is enough for them to share the wisdom of the Holy Scripture with their disciples: “ So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Teaching is the indispensable part of the life of every spiritually mature Christian. There cannot be spiritual growth without giving love, knowledge, and support. All pastors teach those faithful who come to the church, every Christian parent teaches his/her children at home how to live according to God’s rules.
Fraternal love is the basic value on which the ministry is based. It is said in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have a love for one another.” This is, perhaps, the most well-known principle the Christians all around the world proclaim. Love can be seen in various forms. It can be compassion, teaching, supervision, submission, and compromising. The disciples have to live according to the principle of love if they want to serve the Lord with all powers of their souls.
Another core value of the ministry is the emphasis on personality. It is said in 2 Timothy 4:5 that all the disciples of Christ have to endure the sufferings, stay sober in their minds, and to continue preaching, working as evangelists in order to fulfill their ministry. The faithful usually understand that this is the obligatory aspect of their discipleship. The difficulties that appear on their path should be considered as the temptations the Devil sends them to distract the believers from the discipleship and ministry. It is also possible to state that the result that costs great efforts is appreciated several times more than the one that was natural. The path of the ministry is not an easy one. Those Christians who have decided to follow it do not want to have quick and easy results, because going and longing to Jesus is life with the aim and with the sense.
The last core value that is necessary to mention is the focus the Christians make on the resurrection, the life after death, and the Judgment Day. It is written in Acts 1:8 that those who believe in God will become powerful at the moment the Holy Spirit comes upon them. They will witness the appearance of God wherever they are and it will be the happiest day of their lives. These lines give the Christians hope to live on, to overcome the problems that appear to be too much for them to bear. Without hope, there cannot be ministry and discipleship, and hope is the moving power that activates the Christians in the most dramatic situations.
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Perhaps, all Christians know that serving Jesus is impossible without the ministry. However, not all believers clearly understand the perspectives that form this notion. Ministry is complicated and it features numerous components, among which the most important ones are the pastors, the saints, the leader, the Gospel, evangelism, the disciple, and the local church.
Evangelism denotes the process of preaching and it does not relate to any particular branch of Christianity. It supposes the thorough studies of the Gospels and ministry as a pastor or a missionary. In fact, the notion of evangelism is closely connected with the definition of the leader. In the church, the leader stands for the pastor, who is the teacher, the father, and the close friend, who will always listen to the problems of the believer and help him/her. The word evangelist was first mentioned in the New Testament, in Ephesians 4:11, Acts 21:8 and 2 Timothy 4:5. John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew were called the Four Evangelists. The word is translated “I bring good news”, and the evangelists did bring the news about the Son of God.
When someone starts thinking about Christianity, the image of the church always arises in the imagination. The church is not just a building where people gather, and it is more than a mere symbol. The faithful consider the church to be the bride of Jesus, and it is mentioned many times in the New Testament. It is the place where everyone will receive help if they need help and they are in trouble. The poor can always be sure that they will receive shelter, simple meal, and spiritual advice in the church. The local church is the notion that unites the believers, the pastors, and the saints, and all this in the combination contribute to the process of making the disciples. It is the place where the faithful meet and pray for their relatives, friends, those in trouble or those who have already died. In a certain sense, the local church is the means of connection between the disciples. It unites them into one extended family. The people who attend the church share their burden and joy, and start applying the words of Jesus about helping those who need it, love, righteousness, and atonement.
Understanding of the ministry process will not be full without the description of the pastor. In other words, he is the active Christian leader who works on helping the faithful become better Christians and grow up in the spiritual sense on their way of discipleship. The pastor is supposed to be the specialist in the Gospels, the evangelist because he needs to interpret the words of the Holy Scripture for the disciples. The pastor is responsible for the spiritual life of the Christians who come to his local church. Metaphorically speaking, he is the prism through which the believers of the local church look at the world around them, and learn to think and live according to the words of the Gospels. It can be achieved only through the thorough and constant study of the Bible, true faith, prayer, and reflections. In the ideal, the pastor is the living example for the disciples of the Christian who is pure in his heart, and for this reason, he can radiate the light of the faith to his meek, as it is written in Matthew 5:8.
Every Christian is a disciple. The tradition of the discipleship starts from the earliest times of Christianity and is still one of the main doctrines in the religion. The tradition is centered around life and atonement of Jesus, that is the central thing on which the Christian worldview is based. The Christians who start their discipleship try to follow the Lord in the way they live. The understanding of God is made through prayer, ministry, and full submission to Christ. There are many temptations on the path of the disciple, and Christians often look at the examples of the saints, who managed to finish their discipleship. Their lives, moral rules, and instructions can be found by every faithful in the Gospel, and that is one of the most important attributes that make the ministry possible.
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The discipleship process requires a reasonable organization because the chances to implement such a grand plan practically are not very high if much work is done in theory. Regarding the fact that I would like to change the situation in poor districts and work with children and teenagers, I would assume that there would be problems with people. Much time will pass until those whose hearts are constantly tempted by evil will decide to choose Christ. I suppose that this process of ministry will require even more diplomacy than usual.
These social and psychological reasons determine the possible structure of the church. It should be small, and there is no need for substantial personnel there during the first years. The main issue in its organization will be the usage of the small group philosophy. It dates back to the times of Christ, when His followers united people around Him, as it was commanded in 1 Corinthians 16, as well as Acts 2 and 5. It will give those who come to the church the possibility to feel that their spiritual ties are tight, they have a family, and their prayer is not only for them but also for the sake of the people around them. Being a part of something bigger is the feeling that often makes anti-social people integrated into the community, and gives them a chance for a better life without problems with the law.
Some specific initial steps should be undertaken to organize the church and form the core of the faithful. First, the church needs certain publicity. Making festivals, public lectures, helping the families together with social workers might give people the understanding that our church exists in their district and it is willing to help them. When the first people come to the church, they might tell their friends and family members about us. It will increase the number of disciples, and make the organization more powerful and eager to help.
The events in the church for children and teenagers from the poor districts will be organized according to the traditional scheme. The faithful will gather in the church and talk to each other and the pastor every Sunday, discussing the Holy Scripture, its application to the real life, and the problems the believers had during the week. The faithful will also participate in the outreach events, which is very important in the process of integrating into the community and becoming closer to the others. In addition, young people and children will be more interested in such activities than they often are during preaching. There will be also a Sunday school, and its doors will be open for everyone. The faithful will be able to learn about the Holy Scripture, read and discuss theological literature, develop their artistic skills. The quotations from the Bible will be hung on the walls, and they might become the slogans of the believers.
As it was mentioned earlier, there will be not many people working in the church. I suppose that in the beginning, the faithful will help me to cope with the organization. We will need some money to buy children books and presents for the holidays, but I assume that these problems can be solved when they appear.
It is very difficult to measure ministry success because there is nothing that can evaluate even one life that has changed thanks to Christ. The effectiveness of the pastor’s work will be seen on the examples of the destinies of the faithful who attended the church. With the time, I hope that the church will gain popularity in the poor district, and those children who have grown up with Jesus in their hearts will return to their homes and change it for the better so that it will not be called poor anymore. Perhaps, this will be the best measure of ministry success. The financial success of the church is problematic to forecast because it will be made to help the poor. In this case, the words from Hebrews 13:5 come to mind: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
There is much evil in the world and every faithful Christian needs to make something to improve this situation. I have seen many people who lived in the poor criminal districts and saved their souls from homicide, theft, and alcoholism only because they believed in God. It makes me think of the ministry in such districts because I feel that God gave me the powers to try. At least, something can be done to those juveniles. The analysis of the 5 V’s of ministry showed that it is possible to organize the small church in the way that will be affordable, and still will give all possibilities for discipleship.