Intentional discipleship makes district-wide impact on Canada West
The Discipleship Place offers a variety of courses on topics ranging from discipleship and evangelism to mental health. Some individuals take the courses on their own to increase their knowledge of lay ministry, while others participate to fulfill a local congregation’s requirements for church leadership positions.
On the Canada West District, these courses are used for discipleship, connecting people from three Canadian provinces.
Sheri Lynn Martin, the district children’s ministries coordinator, searched for ways to connect with leaders and lay ministers spread out over the district’s 1,000-plus kilometers during the COVID-19 pandemic. She turned to The Discipleship Place in search of course material to bring people together as part of the Canada West District’s emphasis on empowering lay leaders.
“We don’t want all our eggs in one basket,” Martin said. “We don’t want just to be empowering our pastors. We want to be empowering our lay leaders as well.”
Martin and the group first dove into the Children’s Ministry course, meeting once a month over two years. The group of nine that participated became close and saw how impactful the knowledge gained from the course was on their local ministry contexts.
“We are meeting together to be discipled, to sharpen each other, to love and support each other, and then we’re going out for that whole month, seeing what we can do,” Martin said. “We bring it all back, and they talk about who they’ve met, how they’re doing, and then we disciple each other again.”
The group loved it so much that they returned to The Discipleship Place and began taking the Discovering and Developing Christlike Disciple Makers course. This time, the group nearly doubled from nine to 17 participants.
Many of the attendees are immigrants to Canada from either Sudan or The Philippines. As they completed the course, they began to implement not only knowledge from the courses but also things that they learned from each other.
Meghan McDougall, a participant in the group, said that the diverse church and cultural backgrounds helped the group broaden their perspectives.
“Even their stories of how they do things [in their previous culture] compared to how they’re learning to do things in Canada were beneficial,” McDougall said.
In addition to bonding over cultural differences, the participants connected over similar experiences in life.
“To have these discussions with these people and to hear their stories as you go through things, you realize that you’re not alone,” McDougall said.
While learning about discipleship, they practiced it within their group along the way. And the intentionality that discipleship requires was not lost on McDougall.
“You go to church intentionally, you participate intentionally, and you mentor intentionally,” McDougall said.
That intentionality is ultimately what Martin and the Canada West District want to impart to others. The reason for intentional discipleship, according to Martin, is that “we can’t just leave people where they’re at.”
“If we’re fortunate enough to have the person decide to follow Jesus, we don’t want just to leave them there,” Martin said. “There’s so much more for them. I just want them to grab onto that and help others grab onto that as well.”