Making disciples in the local church
Mathetes is the New Testament word for ‘disciple’; the core purpose of The Mathetes Trust (TMT for short) is to help promote a culture of discipleship and disciple-making within the local church.
We believe that discipleship is learned with others and from others – it is something we do together. Membership of a church is a necessary part of an individual’s growth as a disciple. Because of this, TMT works exclusively with churches and church leaders. Our vision is for churches whose members are learning to:
Love God and love one another
Live as Jesus lived
Pray as Jesus prayed
Minister to others in the power of the Spirit
Proclaim the gospel in word and deed
These are preoccupations for all members of the church, not just for some.
Learning to be a disciple comes through the work of the Holy Spirit. How to be filled by the Spirit, how to hear the Spirit’s voice, how to discern and use the gifts of the Spirit; these are all major themes for us.
Our vision for church leaders is that every church leader will be a disciple-maker and enable others to become disciple-makers. Jesus made disciples in a specific context set in his time and place. So we invite church leaders to understand their own context and discern their mission within it; what exactly is it that God has called them and their people to accomplish in his name? (To find out more please visit the page ‘Defining your mission’). Once a church and its leaders are agreed about their mission, then disciple-making is a matter of recruiting people, getting them to own the mission, organising them to play their part, equipping and training them to do the work, and building a relationship with them as they do. It is in this context that the church leader will teach and demonstrate discipleship principles.
In teaching about discipleship we find it helps us to use the following profile of a disciple:
A disciple is someone who has decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, and has turned away decisively from any other way of living
- The Spirit
A disciple is someone who has received the Holy Spirit and lives under the Spirit’s continual influence and direction
- Creativity (daily work)
Disciples believe that they have been created by God and, being made in God’s image, are chosen to be creative themselves. Disciples understand where their unique creativity lies, and are content to be what God has made them to be. Whatever their task, whatever their creativity, they do what they do for the glory of God, and aim to please him
- The church community
Each disciple is committed to a group of other disciples who he loves and serves with all his heart. Within the group the disciple has discovered his unique role, and learned to respect and to rely on the roles of the other disciples.
Disciples are a devoted people both as a group and individually. They are devoted to prayer, to bible study, to worship, to sharing communion, and to giving to others.
Disciples share a common creed which they understand, believe in, and are able to explain to others.
All disciples share a common code of living which is derived from the New Testament and was followed by Jesus himself. They understand that Jesus wants them to love him and do their utmost to follow him. By this code they quietly separate themselves from the secular community around them.
- The Spirit in the community
Disciples enjoy being together in community when they are able to enjoy and experience the presence of the Spirit with them. They are used to praying and worshipping in the Spirit; they are used to hearing God’s word; they are used to ministering to each other in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Disciples are involved together in a spiritual battle in which they are learning to be victorious; they know who the enemy is and they know how to defeat him. Disciples are not immune from life’s knocks – they face death and experience tragedies – but in all of this they are learning to be thankful, hopeful people.
Disciples are committed to the task of spreading the gospel within their local community. They live as servants within that community; they set out to build friendships; they bear witness at any opportunity. They are willing, if needed, to accept persecution.
Disciples are learning together to do what Jesus did. They have learnt how to preach the gospel to anyone who will listen and because some respond they have discovered that the gospel has power. Disciples know how to pray for others in the name of Jesus and have learnt that such prayer also has power.
If you are a church or church leader and you share our vision, we would like to work with you. The various ways in which we could work together are explained in the pages of this website. There is a summary of the options which we can offer you on our ‘What we do‘ page.
Learning about discipleship
Our thoughts about discipleship derive from the Bible. We have set out our ideas on how to apply these biblical principles in a number of publications – to find out more please visit our Publications page.
Read more about our vision for discipleship in Alison Morgan’s recent book Following Jesus.
Find out more about how to grow disciples in the local church through our discipleship programme The God Who is There.