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Valerie Penney /Wednesday, June 15, 2022

 

Is he really ready? How can he be leaving so soon? That’s the worry I felt when my baby headed off to school, both to kindergarten and far too quickly, to university. Did I do enough to install godly values and life skills that he will need to navigate life away from me?

I think church life might be similar. We focus a lot on inputting into believers all the discipleship tools we can with care during tough times and nurture in the faith – and so we should – but sometimes we forget that the purpose is to grow mature disciples who make other disciples. We can get stuck on pouring in and forget all about the desperate need for giving out.

In Simply Mobilizing, we have a way to define discipleship that captures these two ideas. INPUT and OUTPUT are two simple terms to help local churches journey towards being a ‘missional church’.

Input & Output

INPUT is the ministry of the church to the church. It’s the care work that expresses the love of Jesus to one another in all the seasons of life. Input sees the role of the church to challenge new believers to be fully devoted followers of Christ, who disciple others.

Input is part of the discipleship process.

In my experience, it’s easy to believe that we are never quite ready for that next step, that output. But we were not designed to be constantly feeding and never growing, or constantly being cared for and never caring for others.

That’s where OUTPUT must come in. The ministry of all believers is to equip and be released to the unique ministries that God has gifted us for. Just as every parent wants to see their adult children thriving, so God wants to see all his children living intentionally on mission with Him. Input is essential to nurture new believers as well as mature believers at difficult seasons of life but staying there atrophies the Christian life.

Output, doing what we are equipped and released to do, is not only essential, but also the core of what it is to be Christian.

What does that mean for me as a follower of Jesus?

What I learn, I pass along.

This year, we’ve become connected with several students at our local university from all over the world which has been so life-giving.

  • Thandiwe shared about having to walk miles when the bus driver wouldn’t accept her card.
  • Caroline turned the heat up to what she was used to in Nairobi until she got the heating bill.
  • Mark bought a car for a too-good-to-be-true deal and later had to walk away from it.
  • Daniel asked how to share his faith when his colleagues change dramatically when they find out he is a Christian.

What we learn together about living in St. John’s, we pass along to the next new international student. The same should be true of what we learn about living in God’s kingdom. As you receive, freely give.

When I don’t know how to move ahead with an act of justice, I ask for help.

I had some experience welcoming a few Syrian refugee families in 2017, but when we had the opportunity for a private sponsorship for a refugee family who were being persecuted for their faith in Jesus, I was lost. God led me to some resourceful and keen people at our church and together we are navigating bringing Aftab and his family to our city. I’m grateful for friends at PAOC Mission Global who know how to care for those experiencing persecution.

If I had waited until I fully understood the private sponsorship of someone experiencing persecution, I would not soon be welcoming Aftab and his family to our safe harbour.

Step out even when you don’t know what that will look like.

When the war broke out in Ukraine, our hearts broke. Over the past 20 years, we’ve been privileged to teach in L’viv at a seminary and now our students were being scattered. One family in particular said yes to the offer to come to Canada. I was terrified about how I would respond to having our empty nest full again with this family of five (including a six-month-old infant).

We prayed.

We shuffled the house.

We shared the need.

After a month of living together, I have to say that I have rarely seen God so tangibly present in answered prayer and peace than since Artem and Yana arrived. If I had waited until I felt ready, I would have never invited them to stay.

God's Mission

With those few stories and thousands more you could write, I suggest that discipleship is the constant learning and growing to be more like Jesus while we move ahead in God’s mission. When needed, we find the resources we need to prepare ourselves (and others) for the new task God is calling us to. Sometimes, we put up our hand to say yes, and then look for opportunities within our neighbourhood, city or world to engage. Either way, we find ways to equip and release fellow believers into that part of God’s mission that He is inviting them (and us) into.

What unique piece of that mission is the Lord nudging you toward today?


Valerie Penney serves on the Simply Mobilizing National Coordination Team as the Atlantic region coordinator, and works for Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada International Missions, equipping leaders globally. She and her husband Fred found themselves living in Newfoundland in 2018, back to the community where Fred grew up. On a free afternoon, they may be found hiking the East Coast Trail or Face-Timing with their three granddaughters.



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