Discipleship By Life

19 09 2013

“Discipleship” in today’s implications is based solely on ‘teachings.’ Teaching for a purpose of having the ‘right doctrine’ that leads to more mere knowledge about God. Example, on Discipleship Lesson 3: Prayer. But teaching a group about prayer doesn’t lead them to pray. To learn how to pray is to pray. God will give you the work, and the work will teach you how to do it.

“How do you do teaching Molong?” someone ask me. Although, the tune is obvious: if no one is teaching, then the disciples doesn’t grow. But Jesus is the Vine, we are not. How do we do teaching now in a family-community context without ‘going to church’ but being one?

Well, I don’t do ‘discipleship’ but I do make disciples. We go out and walk and make friends and make disciples. We don’t stay and sit and soak and sour in a religious box. I don’t do “Bible Study” but we do discuss and study the Bible, we don’t do “prayer meetings” but we do pray a lot. We don’t do “meetings” but we meet a lot because it’s a family. And because it’s a family, there are ‘fathers and mothers in the Lord’ as well as ‘children in the Lord’ and because you don’t raise a son or a daughter by the book but you teach him/her how to cook, how to clean, how to plant, how to read and write, how to weld, how to sew, how to fix the light, how to paint, how to make a table, how to create something, how to invent something, ….. that’s how we do ‘teaching’ here.

All happened in the house, in a family atmosphere where there are “hundreds of mothers, brothers, sisters, houses, possessions, persecutions and even eternal life!”

When a native tribal leader was asked, “What did the missionaries did to you?”

“Well, they taught us about God” was his quick reply. And with a sad face he added, “but they never taught us how to live.”

I would rather teach the person how to cook an egg than teaching him how to do Sunday school on Sunday’s. Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings.


Is it Discipleship or Making Disciples?

19 09 2013

We don’t do ‘discipleship’ because we don’t ‘disciple’ people. The idea behind ‘discipleship’ is ‘teaching the person for a lifetime.’ Let alone relationship handles that! And what’s more irony is that we’re sending the wrong message that instead of Jesus owns the person as His student, we say in turn “he is ‘my’ disciple” simply because ‘we disciple’ him.

In contrast, we do make disciples. ‘Teaching’ for a lifetime is not the focus but ‘relationship for a lifetime’ is. This in turn make teaching into a ‘lifestyle’ and that’s how Christianity is really, back in the days of the early church.

We do ‘make’ disciples. That’s the command: to go and make disciples. Disciples of who? Me? No, I am not Jesus. He is. I only ‘make’ people a disciple of Jesus, not mine. So that means it’s quick, simple and fast to reach the growing population.

Jesus didn’t say “go and disciple” but he said, “go and make disciples.” That’s where we make making disciples complicated. Because we thought as if discipling the people belongs to us. It is not. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit that’s living ‘inside’ the person after baptism. What could be His job dwelling in you if not to ‘teach you into all truth’? I often ask. “What kind of truth can I teach the person when the Truth resides in him? Am I better than the Holy Spirit?” This puts me to shame. So for me to taste the fullness of Him I have to trust Him fully.

So, my job and your job is only to ‘make’ the person a disciple of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s job is to disciple the person. And Jesus job is to build His Church. Got the ‘job’ description?

Jesus has a hard time building His church because we try to do His job. It is obvious then that we didn’t do our job. And the Holy Spirit also has having a hard time ‘discipling’ the person because we also tried to do that job for Him. Thus, instead the person will look like Jesus, he looks more of like you and me. Simply put, that because God cannot multiply His Self by the way we do things ‘our way’ we just multiply ourselves then without even asking His permission. So many of ‘our’ disciples look like us.

Paul warned, “there are those that are among you who will draw disciples for themselves.” My friend, we are only taking men to Christ for him to be discipled.

It all goes down to its implications. “Discipleship” today is not what it’s suppose to be. Try to see the difference between statements below and it’s implications:

“I disciple you.”
“I will make you a disciple.”

See how the later is simple, quick and fast and the other one is complicated?

So, if your way of making disciples is complicated then you will be the very reason why Jesus didn’t comeback yet.

“My Trip” Journeys

8 09 2013

I travel a lot for years around my country, ‘no one escapes me’ I said to myself. There was a month that I flew 16 times and taught about house church. Either I go alone or with some ‘white’ western people with me (as they’re normally the ones who like to write books and taught them in seminars). I read a lot of books on house churches, simple churches or organic churches, whatever. Have made notes on it and create power points. Others ask for it and used it. Gave out a lot of books also, ask the so-called group ‘Philippine House Church Movement’ (although the name has been change) for a book and they’ll tell you who to go. Attended and coordinated their Conferences and Summits of which half of the participants came from my ‘networks.’ This is the sad thing of what I have been doing: Those participants ignited and fired up, although some got angry and left, but to borrow a sentence from my friend Wolfgang Simson he said, “they agree that what I was sharing is right and that ‘something must happen yet they themselves refuses to change” and so they start ‘talking new things,’ as one of my father in the Lord Gary Goodell would say, ‘yet still acting old.’


I realizes that Conferences and Seminars are formed hoping for participants to act on what they have learned and not to do the same of what they have just attended, yet that’s what exactly most of them did, do a seminar; teach ‘about’ house church. And shamelessly, we call ourselves ‘practitioners.’ Because instead of ‘doing’ it, we love ‘talking’ about it. “You cannot teach what you didn’t do” says my friend Wency dela Vina, a member of Asia Pacific leadership team of Navigators, “or else we would need to change the name to ‘House Church Theology Movement’ instead of ‘House Church Movement.’” Sadly, my own country’s movement has acted like that: practitioners of house church theology.

I sat down evaluating what I did regarding doing seminars and coordinating summits. It was a shock that it literally encourages me to stop doing what I have been doing. And that affected a lot of my relationships, that instead to ‘build’ something together with my network, the relationships now becomes mutual. “I already did this,” I said to myself, “I have been through this and instead of the fear that it might not work, well, it actually works.” That’s when I decided to ‘stop doing what I have been doing’ regarding ‘doing’ house church and start making disciples, I have to leave people also. People who I keep motivating yet unmotivated! People who I had decided to commit myself to yet stays uncommitted! That instead you expect them not to be selfish and deny themselves and serve others, yet they serve themselves. Such kind of people has no place in the kingdom of God because not only they’re concerned of their own self and their own group but because also they do not have the heart to serve their next generation.

So, two things I’ve found out about myself. One is to kill myself of my own selfish agenda of trying to be above everybody, letting them think that I am better than them when it comes to the knowledge about house churching. I have to deny my 9 years of experience doing and teaching about my favorite subject (house church) that has become a theology. And second, is learning to bear ‘spiritual children’ on my own (not re-fathering disgruntled Christians in my groups), that is making disciples.

I always say to pastors and leaders who wants to become a part of God’s agenda, “If you want to obey Jesus as King, then you have to literally stop what you are currently doing and start listening to what He would going to say to you.” And I believe that the first thing that He will say to the person to do is “stop what you are doing.” Deny yourself, kill yourself. If there is a need to bury yourself again in baptism, then don’t delay it! We equate ‘serving God more’ as ‘doing more for Him’ that if we’re going to ask ourselves “have we really heard from God on this? Has God really told us to do this?” we would be left dumbfounded! Serving God more simply means, stop what you are doing so that you can hear God and obey His direct command.

And I stop.

I stop attending summits, (leaving some relationships behind)

I stop what I currently doing, (doing house church and teaching in seminars about house church. Gave out my more than a dozen house church to my leaders of which two has become an Institutional church, and some were just dissolving. Get rid of many books and deleted many power points and notes). And

I stop going to trips for a year. I just stayed home and back to square one making disciples.

Making disciples, that’s what really matters. It is King Jesus’ commands to His loyal servants. I suffered some sort of ‘spiritual headache’ for a year. Imagine the passion to teach, to travel, to see leaders’ responses and violent reactions, add to that the joy of flying in the air as I hate taking a boat because of my shipwreck experience. And now what, lying down in my hammock and cannot even read a book? Jesus wants to kill me. He wants to disciple me.

Month’s passes and I started my journey in making disciples with a 17 year old guy named Albert who is now making a lot of his friends’ disciples of Jesus also reaching up to the 14th generation. And I start traveling back again, but this time not to gather leaders to do a seminar but to really helped anyone who wants to get the job of making disciples done. My first trip has made three disciples and sometimes a dozen up to the 4th generation and this goes on and on every time I go and obey Jesus where to go. Most of the time, I already bought my ticket to go to an area yet doesn’t really know who to contact to and where I go specifically to a place. I trust God He would led me. I am not afraid to get lost as I am only roaming around in my own country anyway. Why should I? And as many disciples being made, we started sending them to other islands also by group for a purpose of making disciples to the world.

We don’t do ‘discipleship.’ It would be ludicrous to say, “We’re sending disciples to other islands for a purpose of doing discipleship to the world.” Making disciples is to the ‘lost,’ not the found. It is to the ‘unsaved,’ not the saved. It is to those who are blind, not those who can ‘see’ already. At times I ask, what is ‘discipleship’ to the ‘saved, found and see’ when the command to make disciples is to the ‘lost and blind and unsaved’ people?

Housechurch or Not?

In the early church, house churches started because of making disciples. They don’t proselyte people. The people who are interested in their way of life they gather and then they ask Jesus to disciple them, that is deny themselves and take up their own cross daily and so it is really a killing of their selfish desires and then bury them in baptism. That’s how they do it. In most house churches today, we simply extract them from their religious background and put a new identification card on them called ‘house church.’ Thus, we have a house church that’s full of mostly disgruntled Christians, have hatred with their pastors and leaders because they have been used and were hurt by the system. We have now a room full of people who are not dead and so loved to talk and talk and talk, and what’s their favorite subject to talk about? Two things: house church and traditional church. Actually, it’s house church ‘verses’ traditional church. They share their bad Christian experiences and so encourages everyone to share theirs as well. And here we go, the leader of the house church is not dead yet also, and so doesn’t really know how to handle such pity people.

When are you going to stop doing house church and start being one? Or if you have no plan to die again, for how long are you going to do house church week after week, month after month and year after year?

It’s a Family

My good friend and brother Mike Peters would say, “A church that you attend is not a family, it is an orphanage. People in the orphanage may eat together, play together and do things together like a family yet still it is not a family.” And he continues saying what church is really all about. “Church is not a building, it is the people. Yet it is not only the people but their relationships. Many churches today, including simple, organic, house churches have people but lack relationships.

“Church is a family; it is having hundreds of mothers, brothers, sisters, houses, persecutions and eternal life with their heavenly Father as their father. It is not about having hundreds of Christian neighbors. It is a family. It is not about ‘sponsoring’ a brother but ‘helping’ a brother.” This guy can be trusted with his words as they lived this way already for 35 years now!

“So, how to become a family?” my friend Gary Goodell ask an exhausted house church leaders, “simple, stop the meeting. You cannot be family if you do meetings, why? Because family don’t do meetings. They just meet a lot. If you wanna be family then don’t have meetings.”

Start Bearing Kids!

You will be hearing me right as I said this, if you want to start house church the ‘wrong way’ then collect Christians from different churches and let them all talk in a meeting. Better lock them up in the room or else the neighbor will call the police and report you as disturbance. Or you can start a house church the ‘right way’ by bearing spiritual children, making disciples to new souls. You may not be calling it ‘house church’ or whatever kinds because it’s a family. You know when relationships are being built up like real brothers and sisters you won’t be comfortable calling ‘names’ for identity sakes anymore. (I actually sipping my coffee at this time that my wife made without realizing that its hot! Oh how my tongue burns! But actually, I want to throw up thinking someone that I just made into a disciple as a ‘member of my house church?’ huh!)

Yours is just a family. 1 Timothy 5:1-2.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I just posted on my facebook wall: While Institutional churches are busy pushing their programs, house churches are stuck with meetings. Only handfuls are becoming families.

Making Disciples Conversations

4 09 2013

(Part 2, of Cavite Trip)

“I just want to find out so I want to ask about what you’re doing regarding making disciples in Cebu. Now that it has reached up to the 14th generation in 4 years time, what is the biggest obstacle that you encountered?”

We sat on a circle with some pastors and saints at the house, my host Joey ask me this question while I share our journey in making disciples.

“Me.” I answered without hesitation. “Four years ago as I sat at KFC fast food meeting a friend for a purpose of making him into a disciple of Jesus I ask God, ‘”How to make disciples?” And to my surprise I heard the Lord said back to me, “Think like an unbeliever.” That’s all I heard.

“What kind of answer was that? How in the world ‘think like an unbeliever’ would let me make someone a disciple?” These are my thoughts as I meditate on what Jesus has just told me.

“Is this what you mean when you said you don’t use words and terminology that’s foreign to unbelievers?” Joey interrupted.

“Yes.” I replied. “Terms like ‘worship service’ or ‘bible study’ or ‘house church’ or ‘christian language’ that would identify us as ‘Christians’ are included. Unbelievers has no idea about these stuff. For them that’s religious. And in terms of making disciples, we don’t use many words like ‘evangelism,’ ‘outreach,’ ‘sinner’s prayer,’ ‘testimonies’ but we make disciples and share God’s love and His sacrifice on the cross.”

A silence filled the room trying to understand what I’ve shared. They just stare at me. And realizing that most of them have a hard time getting it I offer to make all the pastors into a disciple of Jesus. So I said, “Okey, so that you will know what I mean I will make a sort of a demo. I will just make you, the pastors, a disciple of Jesus but on one condition: think like an unbeliever. How was that?”

Everyone was quite Ok and agreed. “Okey then, let’s start but before that I will give you time to change the way you think. Think like you are not saved, think like how an unsaved person thinks. And take note also that let’s pretend that you are all my friends, means we already have a relationship, means also that you are not just simply ‘any’ friend but you are my friend who believe in me and trust me because you see my life change. You already seen me how I live, how I model the kingdom life in front of you. You see me how I see things differently, how I think things differently, and even how I make decisions differently. Means, I have really shown my light to you and a salt. I live how a disciple of Jesus lived.

“This is not an evangelism,” I continued, “where you preach at a person on the street whom you do not even know his name. This is making disciples through our friends already who believe in us and trust us.

I paused for a couple of seconds and ask, “So, did you see yourself as an unbeliever now?” Honestly, many of them have a hard time thinking like one because not only that we become believers for so long but also we have lost contacts with the world, most Christians have no unbelieving friends anymore.

As everyone nod their heads, I said, “You are all in my house now, just pretend it, it can be a coffee shop or under the tree in a picnic, wherever you are, go and make disciples, So I shall tell you why I invited you to eat at my house because I want to make you a disciple. I will make you a disciple.”

“Your disciple?” One pastor on my left side reacted proudly.

“See, I told you,” I said, “think like an unbeliever. You didn’t think like one pastor.” Everyone laugh and agreed. He agreed too. “Ok, let’s continue. If you are an unbeliever how would you respond?”

“What’s that?” Another pastor sitting next to Joey answered.

“Exactly. You are right.” I said. “Based on our experiences in making disciples, we almost got the same answer. They ask back, “What is that?”’

“Jesus has saved you already two thousand years ago.” I continue making these pastors a disciple of Jesus as they continue thinking like an unbeliever. “He paid for your sin because He loves you. He did this right there on the cross two thousand years have passed away. Do you know this?”

“Yes.” All pastors said. “Your answer is true that a non-believer knows this already specially in the Philippines where 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, they already have a background of Jesus death on the cross, so they know this already. Now I will continue making you a disciple.

“Now that you know, do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus saves you there on that cross two thousand years ago? Do you believe that you were saved right there? You have been saved. It is done. It is finished right there, you just have to know. And now that you know, do you believe?”

“Yes.” They all answered. “It’s true. An unbeliever person who is your friend who believes in you and trust you because they have seen your change life would just simply say yes.” I said.

“But is that all?” Several of them wonder. “Exactly also, most of them whom we made into a disciple wonders the same. The answer is yes. That’s all you have to do, believe. Why? Because there is nothing you can do that can make God loved you more or less. He loves you and wants you to love him back but there is a problem which is sin, so He dealth that Himself, not you. You are not the one who died on the cross, it’s Him, it is Him alone. He dealth sin even while you were yet a sinner and while you were not even born yet. So what can you do to save yourself anyway? Nothing, right?”

Silence broke the room but they nod their heads anyway in agreement.

“Now, this part is very important point. If the person is not convince that there is nothing he can do to save himself then do not continue making him into a disciple. He must know that salvation is God’s work alone. But as a disciple maker, continue thinking like an unbeliever. Meaning, answer only questions regarding on this topic, and answer them quickly and on the spot. That means, do not try to explain long using theological stuff, remember he is an unbeliever with no spiritual luggage like us. And most importantly, do not create questions for him. Creating questions for him is using our ‘believers’ thinking. Making disciples should be simple, quick and fast for him to make his friends disciples just as the way you made him. Well, not exactly, but the longer you explain is only making disciples complicated. And if you do that then you are the very reason why Jesus didn’t come yet. Explain only the essential using simple language.

“So, convince your friend to know that God loves Him and because of that He dealth the sin which is the problem. Now the problem is dealth on the cross and the only problem now is your friend if he would believe that what Jesus did is for him to be save. And if he believes then salvation is for him. What did he do? Nothing. Why? Because it is done two thousand years ago. He said on the cross, “It is finished.” Not, “to be continued.”

“So, do you believe? I ask the pastors again. And all answered yes. “Ok, now that you believe that you have been saved, what is your response to what He did for you?”

“I don’t know.” Some of them responded spontaneously. They all seem good to think like an unbeliever.

“Your answer is right using the unbelievers mind.” I said. “Of course you do not know. So I will continue making you into a disciple, ‘”Now, that Jesus died for your sin, what will you do with your sin?”’

“I do not know, what should I do?” All agreed.

“Of course, still an unbeliever doesn’t really know what to do with his sin. He knows nothing. So I will say, ‘”Leave your sin. Are you willing to leave your sin?”

“See, repentance is the answer. But repentance is not something that you to GET save but it is something that you respond to what has been done already to BE saved. In the Bible, whenever people wants to follow Jesus and has heard the Good News, they responded saying, “What must I do to BE saved?” Not, “What must I do to GET save? Remember the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16? He ask the same question. And in Acts 2 where Peter preach to the crowd the people ask the same. Meaning, now that I was saved right there on that cross two thousand years ago, what shall I do to receive it in my life?

“And notice also my answer to is not “repent” but “leave your sin” because I simplify it. ‘Repentance’ is foreign to an unbeliever. You will have to quote verses on that. And whenever we make disciples in Cebu we don’t quote verses as we don’t bring our Bibles to show the person how good we are at quoting Scriptures. Also, quoting scriptures only make making disciples a bit complicated. We quote verses but hardly, sometimes if needed. Because the person whom we make disciples is a friend already who believe in you and trust you. It doesn’t take a lot of proof for him to believe in what you just shared. You are his proof already that what you said is true. Your life is a witness to that.

“Also, remember Jesus who said “repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” never uses that to the individual when He is making someone a disciple. He just said, “sin no more.” To paraphrase it, it’s ‘leave your sin.’ Either way, my point is ‘think like an unbeliever.’ Saying ‘leave your sin’ or ‘sin no more’ I believe make more sense to him than saying ‘repent.’ Up to you.

“When I said that ‘repentance is not something that you do to GET saved but only a response to what has been done already two thousand years ago, on that cross’ what I mean for that is ‘repentance doesn’t save you. Imagine that, there are 44,000 denominations in the world today and most of them uses ‘repentance’ without Christ death on the cross!

“Also, in 2Cor.7:10, it says that ‘godly sorrow produces repentance,’ means that on our own we cannot repent. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. So repentance is not our work, but God’s. Even ‘coming to Jesus’ or by the time that the person is ready to become Jesus disciple is not man’s work but God’s. John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” That’s why before making a person a disciple we ask God, “Is he the one? Am I going to make him into a disciple?” So, a lot of our ‘believers’ thinking are really were the very problem in making disciples, not the solution. So shall we continue?”

“So when a person says he is willing to leave his sin, what’s next?” Joey ask.

“Are you willing to leave your sin? I am continuing making you a disciple here.” I said to the pastors. “So are you to stop sinning?”

“Yes.” All said. While I’m in the middle of making these pastor’s disciples of Jesus, some women at the back sitting on the dining table have their own discussions as well. “What are you women is talking there about?” I am jokingly.

“We love it.” They replied. “It’s very nice.” I found out then that these ladies are the wives and leaders of these pastors. Honestly, women, specially pastor’s wife are the ones who can get it quicker than their husbands.

“Oh I see, anyway. Let’s continue. “Now, that you are willing to leave your sin, what shall we do with your sin?

“So, to a believer’s mind what will his answer be?” I reminded them.

“I do not know.” They all replied. “What do you mean?”

“Should we leave your sin on the corner and later you pick it up and continue sinning again? If you want to follow Jesus, He will kill you. Means, He will disciple you. Means, you deny yourself. The life that you know has come to an end. Do you know that Fraternity is a fad in today’s world especially to the young people?” They understood me well. “And do you know what the initiation is? “PADOL” (means to be beaten by a stick by several members as a test if you are worth to become a member of the group.) In the Kingdom of God, it’s PATAY, means death. Why? The wages of sin death.”

I stop for a moment.

“In traditional evangelism, the evangelist would say, “Jesus died for your sin so that you will not die for your sin.” Wrong. That’s half truth. The other half is a lie. The truth is, Jesus died for your sin and you also died for your sin. See Romans 6:2; 3:23; 6:23, Eph. 2:1. See, one of the reasons why I said that we don’t do evangelism, we make disciples.”

“Now, I will continue making you a disciple. Your sin has killed Jesus. You also has killed because of your sin. Just as He died, you also died! You want to be a follow of Jesus? Sorry, you can’t because dead people doesn’t know how to follow Jesus. Dead people don’t hear from God, cannot hear His voice and therefore cannot obey His commands. The Bible calls it dead people because of their sin as “old man” or “old self.” Old people or old self cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

“How does God deals with our old self? Self that is full of sin and wickedness? Sorry, He will not repair you. He kills you. Now, do you believe that you are dead because of your sin? Hey, ‘unbelievers’ I ask you.”

I reminded the pastors again to get their attention. All said yes.

“If you believe that you are dead, then what do we do with dead people?”

All answered in unison, “Bury!?” Then everyone laugh. They get it.

“Let’s go then.” I said. “How many minutes did I just made you into a disciple from the time that I said, “I will make you a disciple to baptism?”

“Three minutes?” One said.

“Making disciples start when you say your intention saying, “I will make you a disciple.” And it will end when you finally baptized the person immediately. In the NT times, baptism delayed is disobedience. You won’t see baptism is delayed even a day. The jailer was baptized at midnight, and the Eunuch is within Phillip’s explaination, they didn’t’ wait for another ‘holy day’ called “Baptism day.” We don’t do wait for “proof of salvation” which is “good works” before we baptized the person for what kind of good works can a dead person do? We don’t do “stages of growth” too before baptizing the person for what kind of ‘growth’ can a dead person be?

“To enter into the Kingdom of God is through baptism, not “sinner’s prayer.” Just as Jesus died, you also died with Him in baptism. And just as He was raised from the dead, you also raise with Him in new life. Jesus way for you to become His disciple is to kill you, that’s why I need to bury you, in baptism. Your old self must be buried because it is dead with sin. In baptism, it is where you and God meet and will forgive all your sins (Col.2:12-13). It is when you receive the “new life.” A new life with a ‘new heart’ to hear God’s voice and follow Him.

(Honestly, I do make some “Christians” a disciple of Jesus because many are not. And when I do I spent much of my time explaining like these pastors, lol. Most of what we explain to an unbeliever is the essential only for him to believe, and respond by repenting, and baptism. As soon as the person is convince that he is dead, he would normally want to be buried. Only an ‘alive’ person who is still ‘kicking’ who don’t like to be buried or someone who’s just ‘pretending’ to be dead. Which I have had some experiences also.)

“This is not traditional evangelism,” I told the pastors, “in which we hear evangelist would say and proclaim after the sinner’s prayer, “Now, receive the new life.” Or, “Now, you have a new life in Jesus.” How can one receive or have a new life without burying the old life?

“This is making disciples.”

(The next day we baptized three up to the second generation. But that is a different story, Part 3)