The word “discipleship” has been a word that God has re-introduced into our vocabulary in recent years as leaders and as a parish. We weren’t clear on how we went about making disciples let alone how successful we were in producing followers of Jesus. We have begun a journey where the ‘how to’s’ of discipleship have become central to our thinking, which has meant re-thinking and transitioning from traditional church management to discipling others to discover what God is saying and leading. 3DM materials, online coaching, and a recent workshop in Canberra have been crucial to this journey. We are very thankful for faithful practitioners who share from their past and present experience to mentor and teach folk like us who are on this journey.
Five years ago, our church was struggling.
We lacked direction, healthy leadership, and our membership was dwindling. We were losing energy and close to disbanding. We were present in our local communities, yet didn’t know how to “make disciples.” Mission without discipleship — how did we end up here? It was a sobering realisation and we found ourselves repenting as a church. Lost at sea, we clung to Jesus to show us the way!
Through a series of ‘circumstances,’ we connected with 3DM and the Learning Community process. We were wary at first, wanting to build a discipleship culture, but in a way that respected our context and our history. The amazing people at 3DM understood our needs perfectly. They trained us, coached us, and walked alongside us for four years. They helped us to discover “what God was saying” and kept us accountable (in a loving way) to ensure that we did something about this!
Nowadays, things are very different. We have a clear vision and direction. We have a growing number of faithful, competent leaders who lead within their personal calling. We have two new “missional communities” that serve and share like an extended family. Lives are also being transformed — we have seen friends become followers, and long-term believers deepen in faith. Now of course, there are still challenges and frustrations ahead of us, yet we don’t feel lost anymore. We are equipped to “hear and obey” Jesus in everyday life, as He does the work of building His church.
We recommend Cascade Network, and it’s work teaching 3DM tools and principles to any church who is hungry for change; to build a discipleship culture, a leadership culture, birth missional communities and, over time, a kingdom movement. It all begins with discipleship — the slow, messy, hard and humble work of “making disciples who make disciples!”
We introduced 3DM tools and principles to our college several years ago. We already have seen some pretty cool things happen, especially amongst the staff. It really has given new vigour to listen to Jesus and to follow through, and this has a direct impact on how we are running Worldview. The coaching we received was in many ways key to the redevelopment of our program. At Worldview we train missionaries, who by definition are “disciple makers,” which means students and staff need to be disciples first and then know how to make disciples. In 3dm we have found a transferable and adaptable method of doing both these things, and that is something many other systems do not offer.
We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.
We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.
With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.
We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.