Nazarene Discipleship International Reports Ministry Progress in 2023

Nazarene Discipleship International Reports Ministry Progress in 2023

By Nazarene Discipleship International, | 14 Mar 2024

General Board

Every year, the NDI global director reports to the Board of General Superintendents and the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene. This report provides a synopsis and review of the people, projects, and resourcing provided by your NDI global staff to the world regions. The report below was submitted in last month’s meeting. This report will help you understand the full scope of the Church of the Nazarene’s discipleship ministries in partnership with global regional leadership.


To the Board of General Superintendents and 2024 General Board:


From October to November 2023, the Faith Connections adult Sunday school commentary from the Foundry Publishing was teaching on the book of Ezekiel. The final nine chapters (chapters 40-48) record one final vision God gave to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 47, the vision takes an eschatological turn as it describes, similar to Revelation 22, a river that begins under the throne of God.


In Ezekiel’s vision, the water came out of the Holy of Holies within the temple, the dwelling place of Almighty God. As the water exited this most sacred space, it was just a trickle. After one third of a mile, this water was ankle-deep, after another third it was knee-deep, then waist-deep, and finally too deep to cross without swimming. This river emptied into the Dead Sea, a body of water without fish or plants due to its high salt content. As this water from the dwelling place of God entered the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea was made fresh. The Hebrew word translated as “fresh” can also mean “healed.” The now-living sea was full of fish of every kind.


Ezekiel concluded in chapter 47, verse 9, “Where the river flows everything will live.


Oh, the grace of God is like this river. The longer it flows in our lives, the deeper it gets; and everywhere the water touches, things that are dead are made alive again. What hope for God’s people, even for today! Nazarenes might call Ezekiel’s walk along this river “a Journey of Grace.” We have seen God’s grace in 2023 throughout the world, awakening the lost, establishing new believers, and sanctifying the saints. From that journey of God’s amazing grace, I offer my sixth report for Nazarene Discipleship International (NDI) to the February 2024 General Board.




The global framework of Nazarene Discipleship, called “A Journey of Grace,” continues to provide effective guidance for Nazarenes in being Christlike disciples and in making Christlike disciples in the nations. We understand discipleship as a lifetime journey that includes all people globally.


We believe that Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He continues to actively draw lost people to the heart of the Father (prevenient grace). We believe that Jesus saves in the here and now. By the power of the Spirit, lost people are found, spiritually dead people are brought to spiritual life, sins are forgiven, eternal life begins, new believers have a new family, and heaven is promised (saving grace)! We believe that the Spirit actually transforms the believer to walk like Jesus walked. Hearts are continually sanctified along the journey. In a crisis moment, the believer who is growing in the Spirit can die to sin, surrender fully to the will of the Father, and be filled to all the fullness in Christ by that same Spirit (sanctifying grace). What a journey we are able to walk in Christ… from no faith to new faith to mature faith… from sinner to saint… from grace to grace to grace!


Spiritual growth, however, is not just for the one enjoying such grace. Instead, believers are called to join Jesus in what he is doing. Since Jesus is seeking the lost, Nazarenes should be seeking the lost. We join him by walking alongside lost people and helping them see God’s prevenient grace in their lives. This is participating in the Great Commission. We join Jesus by helping people repent of their sins and begin their first steps as a believer. We join Jesus by leading all believers to the place of rest in the Holy Spirit, a life actively surrendered to the will of the Father.


As you see, Nazarenes emphasize evangelism with holiness in mind, and we call all sanctified believers to walk in holiness with evangelism in mind. This is the Journey of Grace.




The highlight of our year was the 2023 NDI General Convention. The theme for our convention was “By His Grace,” and the grace of our Lord Jesus was certainly with us. We had 1,388 pre-registered delegates. When we started the convention with our first plenary session on Friday afternoon, June 9, we had a total of 776 registered, on-site delegates with our average plenary attendance for three sessions over 1,100/session. To make the convention run smoothly, NDI utilized over 600 volunteers during the weekend.


The 2023 NDI General Convention was a hybrid convention with some online events occurring before the in-person portion from June 9-12, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA).  The pre-convention activities occurred between March 1 – May 31, 2023. These activities included online, pre-recorded workshops from all six regions and NDI regional forums, again from all six regions.


Fourteen regional forums were held using the Zoom platform. The USA/Canada Region decided to hold their regional forums by educational field, thus holding 9 forums. The remaining 5 forums were from the South America Region, Mesoamerica Region, Eurasia Region, Africa Region, and the Asia-Pacific Region.


NDI held a total of 20 in-person workshops in Indianapolis between Friday afternoon, June 9, and Saturday, June 10. All of these workshops were full of people with most rooms having standing-room only. In addition to the in-person workshops, NDI utilized global NDI leaders to record over 60 regional workshops. We encouraged all delegates to watch at least 6 workshops between March 1 and May 31, 2023. The workshops remain as a lasting record and resource to NDI for years to come (


The NDI convention consisted of three plenary sessions. Plenary #1 was on Friday afternoon, June 9. The theme for this session was “Walking In Grace” with our General Board Representative, Rev. Marta Gonzalez (Mesoamerica), as our special speaker. Plenary #2 was held on Saturday morning, June 10, with the theme, “Walking Through Grace.” Our special speaker was Dr. Samantha Chambo (Africa, USA/Canada). Finally, plenary #3 was held on Monday morning, June 12, with the theme, “Walking With Grace.” The special speaker was Dr. Scott Rainey (Global Director of NDI).


World Quiz 2023, our children’s quizzing finale, had 1,330 kids involved on Saturday, June 10. These figures include 542 children from the red level and 788 from the blue level. We had close to 7,000 in attendance to cheer on the children for their hard work during the year. At least 62 USA/Canada districts were represented in addition to quizzers from Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, and South Africa.


GA Kids 2023 was a first of its kind. NDI partnered with Trey Brooks (Equip to Engage) and hundreds of volunteers to conduct age-specific children’s worship services that corresponded with the themes of the adult GA Worship services. GA Kids averaged around 600 kids in each of the three services (approximately 450 in elementary and 150 in early childhood). Over 100 volunteers were needed for each of the three services.


Women’s Discipleship Ministry had a gathering on Friday afternoon with around 200 in attendance.


NDI sponsored 9 one-hour Prayer Circles in the three food courts at the Indiana Convention Center. Our desire was to give praise to our Lord and King while bringing the prayer needs of the global church to our God.


NDI joined NMI and NYI in the convention hall with a combined Local Church Ministry exhibit. NDI’s exhibit included a Journey of Grace wall where we featured six global testimonies of Nazarenes (one from each region) who have experienced God’s prevenient, saving, and sanctifying grace. We had an additional Core Principle wall that challenged visitors to practice discipleship with five daily challenges. Finally, the NDI exhibit featured the release of the new Journey of Grace video game. Since its release, we have had over 7,000 downloads.


On Monday, June 12, 2023, NDI welcomed its new General Board Representative, Rev. Susan Booth from South Africa, who will serve in this role during the next quadrennium.




Discipleship resourcing continues to hold a place of high priority for all NDI leadership teams. Resourcing has been provided through many avenues during the past year. The list below gives you an overview of such resourcing efforts.


The Discipleship Place


The Discipleship Place is a website where Nazarene discipleship material is stored and disciples are encouraged to engage in an online discipleship community. During this past year, audio lessons were completed for the Gospel of John, for training in Children’s Ministry, for training in Discovering and Developing Christlike Disciplemakers, and for Youth Ministry. Video series were completed on topics such as “Mental Health in Discipling Communities” and “Skills for Managing Emotions” (both taught by Dr. Janet Dean) and “Video Games and Discipleship,” taught by George Herrera.


New resources are currently being developed to study both the Old and New Testaments. Additionally, a six-lesson course on church board training is being created to help pastors lead church boards through training to empower them to maximize their impact for the local church. We have been rewriting the evangelism class, “Communicating the Gospel,” for the certificate of lay ministry. A new class on digital discipleship will imaginatively consider our Wesleyan theology and what this looks like in the realm of a digital world. In the coming year, we hope to make a small group class available on mental health, and we will release a course for lay worship leaders in a Wesleyan theology of worship.


The current Discipleship Place website is being redesigned to enhance functionality for pastors and improve individual experiences.


Discipleship App


In partnership with an organization called Back to the Bible, the church of the Nazarene has given every church an opportunity to develop its own discipleship app. Recently, the Nazarene church has been given a new platform which allows us to create content that can be used on church apps and websites. You can visit our online library at Daily prayer videos are available with the ability to submit confidential prayer requests. This past year, 1,612 people used the Discipleship Place app with 799 new installs. Five hundred forty-eight prayer requests were submitted through the app and 1,271 lessons were completed.




            KidzFirst is a discipleship resource kit that provides 416 children’s and 312 youth discipleship lessons in global English for easy translation. Each lesson is provided on three levels based on resources available at the local level (no resources, some resources, abundant resources). NDI is currently developing artwork for the student activity sheets. Resources are available already in the Spanish language, and we are currently in discussions with Global Nazarene Publications about translations into French and Portuguese. This is an ongoing project that will be active for many years and in many languages.


WHDL and


NDI has continually uploaded new resources to the Wesleyan-Holiness Digital Library in many languages to be used by churches and individuals around the world. Resources to help churches reach the lost, establish new believers, and walk with people into a deeper journey of entire sanctification have also been linked to our website.


NDI Core Principles


            NDI global leaders developed five core principles that help keep a local church and individual Christian making disciples along a Journey of Grace. These core principles are: Fervent Prayer, Compassionate Outreach, Comprehensive Biblical Learning, Intentional Mentoring and Equipping, and Authentic Relationships. We believe that if a local church will focus on these five core principles, they will make Christlike disciples in the nations.


            With the writing help of Dr. James Hicks, NDI has released a small group guide to take groups through training in the five core principles. This resource includes 4-5 weekly studies on each of the core principles, which amounts to a 24-week study on discipleship. The resource can be downloaded for free at and purchased in printed form through Amazon. There are currently 20 pilot groups going through the material to give initial feedback. NDI plans to release the study globally after the Leaders Conference (LC2024) in November 2024.


Journey E-Newsletters


NDI releases a bi-monthly e-newsletter called The Journey Newsletter. This newsletter provides timely and up-to-date articles on discipleship resourcing. During the last year, we released more than 50 articles from NDI regional leaders. If you are not signed up to receive this newsletter, you can do so at


VBS Curriculum


NDI, through dedicated offerings from children and gifted volunteers and writers, has provided a free downloadable VBS to local Nazarene churches globally. This has proven to be a vital tool for sharing the gospel with children.


Starting in 2023, NDI’s VBS lesson scriptures are drawn from the next year’s Children’s Bible Quizzing material. Realizing that Vacation Bible Schools often reach many new kids in the community, our strategy is to provide a VBS that is intended to pique the child’s interest to continue attending the church’s ministry throughout the next school year. This example is another way NDI is refining its efforts to bring unity and clarity to the mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations.


This year’s VBS is titled, “The Toy Maker!” Material can be downloaded at


Children’s Bible Quizzing


With the help of hundreds of committed volunteers in churches around the world, NDI delivered another year of effective children’s discipleship through its children’s Bible quizzing resources. We are currently revising and editing the Children’s Bible Quizzing curriculum for 2024 and 2025 to make it usable in other global areas.


We have been blessed with the incredible support of Rev. Dorothy Whipp as our children’s quizzing coordinator on a volunteer basis. With many volunteers to help her, Dorothy led a very successful 2023 World Quiz at General Assembly.


Webinars and Faith Connections Sunday School Lessons


Throughout the past year, NDI offered twelve online webinars on various discipleship topics. The webinars combined to welcome 3,630 registered participants with 1,496 actual attendees. The attendees came from 48 different countries and were made up of 37% laity, 60% pastors, and 3% unknown.


In addition to these webinars, NDI partnered with the Foundry Publishing to release 52 video lessons for the Faith Connections Sunday school curriculum. These lessons are intended to help local Sunday school teachers in their preparation for teaching each week.






The USA/Canada Region has had an eventful year with many accomplishments. The region continues to build the NDI structure by raising the leadership of nine educational field coordinators and more than 70 district NDI leaders. In September 2023, the region conducted a new district president orientation in Kansas City. This training helps newly-elected NDI district presidents understand their role and the available support to help them succeed by encouraging local congregations to make Christlike disciples.


During General Convention and Assembly in June 2023, the region released its new regional NDI Handbook ( The handbook includes resources to support local and district NDI leaders and will be used to help other regions create similar resources for their region.


The USA/Canada Region relies on healthy partnerships to accomplish its broader goals. These partnerships include Nazarene Educators Worldwide, Women’s Discipleship Ministries, Equip to Engage, Nazarene Motorcycle Fellowship, and internal Global Ministry Center support from Holiness Today, Research, Communications, UCRO office, and Local Church Ministries.


NDI is currently planning its Leaders Conference (LC2024) for November 5-7, 2024, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The leaders’ conference will include plenary sessions with great speakers and inspiring worship music, equipping workshops, and opportunity to interact with NDI partners. The target for LC2024 is NDI district presidents, district superintendents, pastors, and discipleship-minded laity.


One of the most exciting new developments in NDI is the receiving of a Lilly Foundation grant for Disability Ministries. This grant is enabling NDI to partner with an organization called Wonderful Works to develop adaptive resources for children and teens with developmental disabilities. The grant will last for five years and give NDI time to develop needed district structure to encourage church-to-church training and networking that will help local churches minister to families and children with developmental disabilities.




NDI in Mesoamerica facilitates over 14 different discipleship ministries across the region with each ministry serving as “avenues of grace.” The regional leadership includes a team of 9 field level leaders. Over the last year, discipleship training was conducted in person and online in Cuba, Mexico, and the North Central Field. Mesoamerica has been a leader in developing and releasing resources in English, Spanish, and French-Creole. Resources are delivered in paper and digital form.


Due to local violence throughout the country, one of the great challenges on the Mesoamerica Region is the nation of Haiti. The movement of pastors and laypersons to specific locations for training is too dangerous, and consistent internet signals are not always available. Much prayer is needed for peace as the church continues to love and share the good news found in Jesus.


Goals for this next year include finding a way to train Haitian leaders in discipleship and the development of two new resources emphasizing the Journey of Grace. These resources will be translated into all three regional languages and made available to every field.


South America


The South America Region utilizes 10 country leaders to empower districts, churches, and lay people for making disciples. The region uses an online training platform called Acadi to raise up disciples. It is through Acadi that the Journey of Grace discipleship framework is passed to every Nazarene across the region.


This year’s accomplishments include the completion of a book for children called “Growth.” The book teaches about the saving grace of God as a preparation for baptism. Its target audience is children from ages 3-12. The Kids Reaching Kids (KRK) plan was created over ten years ago to receive offerings during Vacation Bible Schools around the world. These funds are then shared in global areas to help children’s ministries flourish. KRK fund were used this past year to bless the South America Region through the support of 12 ongoing projects in multiple countries.


As the region moves into 2024, there will be an NDI leadership gathering from February 16-18, 2024, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the leader from each of the ten countries on the region. One topic on the agenda is the use of video games to reach children and teens with the good news of Jesus Christ. In addition, NDI is prayerfully considering the start of a discipleship school that will focus on the five core principles of discipleship.




The Africa Region has 6 field NDI coordinators and a children’s director who work together to lead discipleship efforts across this continent. The region has five key priorities: discipleship, leadership, education, connection, and district development. The NDI leadership team has worked carefully to ensure that NDI engages each priority on the region.


The region encourages and supports a variety of ministries across the many districts of Africa. Ministry to children is a priority as discipleship leaders use Vacation Bible Schools to reach children with the gospel. Children’s leaders have also used materials called ABBA to help children grow in prayer. Sunday school is encouraged for all ages. This past year, the region held a women’s ministry conference with over 600 present. Regional NDI leaders continue in their efforts to make the Journey of Grace resources available in oral form and to complete an NDI regional handbook.




In 2023, the Eurasia Region accomplished much in the area of discipleship training. A specialized training for the global discipleship framework, A Journey of Grace, was held in India with district superintendents, pastors, NYI, and NDI leaders present. India organizes its discipleship efforts into three groups: children, youth, and adults. A training program called Nexus Kids has been utilized to help prepare children’s workers across the region. The leadership team is also developing an NDI resource kit that will empower disciple-makers across the region.


One of the exciting developments for global NDI was the completion of a Journey of Grace video game for children. This project was created under the vision and expertise of Diego Lopez and George Herrera. The video game was created by using the VBS materials for a Journey of Grace. Children learn about prevenient grace, saving grace, and sanctifying grace as they play the game. The video game app has had over 7,600 downloads globally and continues to see additional downloads daily. Included in this vision was the release of a regionally utilized Easter invite card for local churches that included an augmented reality of the resurrection.


Women’s ministry was also active across the region with a “Las Marias” conference held by two districts with over 60 ladies present. Finally, the region sponsored a conference between two fields (West Mediterranean and Eurasia North) coming together to encourage, support, and train Ukrainian diaspora in December 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.




The Asia-Pacific Region is led in discipleship by 10 members of the regional NDI team. They have been able to bless the region with new resources throughout the year. The book Way, Truth, Life: Discipleship as a Journey of Grace has been translated into four languages on their region. They continue to use the discipleship resource called G.I.F.T. The Sealand Field has developed a series of five books on discipleship that has proven to help make disciples who make disciples. The NDI regional leadership team has produced a regional discipleship guide to help districts and churches develop their discipleship priorities and goals.


Communication continues to be a great challenge on this vast region. Developing translators and building local and district leadership structure in NDI are priorities for the NDI leadership team.


The region desires to develop a district NDI leader’s orientation where new leaders are properly trained for service in discipleship and disciple-making. Additionally, the regional NDI leadership hopes to providing training for discipleship leaders in the five core principles of discipleship.



I am encouraged to see increases this year in many discipleship-related categories after a couple years of decreases related to the Covid-19 pandemic. I have chosen statistics to watch for NDI in the areas of NDI’s purpose: reaching the lost, establishing new believers, and walking with believers into a deeper experience of entire sanctification.


NDI realized increases in 2023 in conversions, baptisms, discipleship attendance, and new Nazarenes. For this I say, “Praise the Lord!”


I also watch a category I created called “discipleship as a % of worship.” This percentage tracks the number of people who attend discipleship activities against the number of people who attend worship services. I believe this is an important statistic to watch as we want our churches to have a great impact on people along the journey of grace. Percentages in this category have usually been around 80-85%. This year’s statistics show a couple of regions with smaller than usual percentages. It appears that the difference is accounted for by a strong increase in online worship attendance.





Discipleship Attendance

Discipleship Attendance Gain/Loss compared to 2021-2022

Percentage Gain/Loss (attendance)

Discipleship as a % of Worship

New Nazarenes

Global Statistics








































South America


































While the NDI Global Office staff is small in number, and the mission is large in scope, everyone faces each ministry opportunity with optimism and prayer. I am thankful for a Spirit-filled, gifted, and committed team of leaders to serve with over this past year: Larry Morris, John Comstock, Daryll Stanton, Victoria Sawyer, Nataliia Skyba, and Ryan Nelson.


We have had to say goodbye to Victoria Sawyer, NDI General Convention coordinator, at the conclusion of General Assembly 2023. She served the NDI team with excellence. We have welcomed Nataliia Skyba as the Local Church Ministry office assistant. NDI receives one-third of her time as she serves NDI, NMI, and NYI equally. We have welcomed Rev. Ryan Nelson, Disabilities Ministry Coordinator, as a blessing from the Lilly Foundation grant.


Rev. Larry Morris, administrative director of NDI, will be retiring on March 1, 2024. He has served Sunday school ministries, SDMI, and now NDI for 28 years. He has been an enormous blessing to the Church of the Nazarene and will be missed greatly. Thank you, Larry, for your servant-leadership through the years.




As I conclude my sixth general board report, I want to thank God for his perfect faithfulness to his church through these years. Every promise he has made, he has kept! Thank you, Jesus, for your gracious love to all of us.


Over the past two months, God has been revealing his will for my life which includes a return to local church ministry at this time. In the middle of January 2024, I will begin pastoring a local church and putting to practice the Journey of Grace as a discipleship framework with over 30,000 other pastors and congregations. This will be, therefore, my last report to the General Board as the global director of NDI. Thank you for allowing me to serve Jesus and you in this way. We have accomplished much in these five and a half years. I am forever thankful to God and to you.


Recently, I came across a prayer written to remember the martyrdom of Oscar Romero y Galdamez on March 24, 1980. The prayer reminds us that what the Holy Spirit has started through our ministry is a part of God’s greater plan. He is the One who will complete it in his perfect time.


“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said.  No prayer fully expresses our faith.  No confession brings perfection.  No pastoral visit brings wholeness.  No program accomplishes the church’s mission.  No set of goals and objectives includes everything.


This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something and to do it well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. 


We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”


Respectfully Submitted,


Global Director, NDI



We welcome any comments or questions you might have about NDI’s ministries. Please send your comments or questions to NDI’s administrative director, Dr. Jeff Spangler.