​Gloria Acosta reads her Bible with two participants of a pilot Discipleship program in Miami, Florida, in 2013. From left they are Genesis Dubon and Joselyn Mendoza. Photo provided.

By Zachary Headings
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"The Missional Discipleship Initiative (MDI), a program of Mennonite Mission Network, seeks to ignite a culture of disciples making disciples within the church. This is crucial because, according to Alan Hirsch in his book The Forgotten Ways, "If we fail at intentionally making disciples of Jesus, we will probably fail in everything else."

MDI's creation was spurred by a calling from Racial/Ethnic congregations within the church for resources to grow and train church leaders in their own communities. MDI equips congregations with the skills and tools they need to foster and grow church leaders. The five-step, eight-month program coaches new participants in a culture of discipleship that they can take to their own congregations. Once implemented within the congregation, the process can begin anew by creating more and more disciples according to the instructions that Jesus gave before ascending into Heaven.

MDI accomplishes this through two sets of tools: virtual learning huddles (VLHs) and missional discipleship groups (MDGs). A VLH offers advice and language to leaders as well as healthy challenge, support, and practical missional tools — also known as LifeShapes. MDGs are based on building strong spiritual discipline in high-commitment small groups of two or three people from the same gender. These groups practice individual and communal prayer, systematic reading of the Bible, and accountability.

There will be a gathering at MennoCon 2019 for those who want to launch a missional journey with MDI, as well as current participants and alumni of the initiative. It is planned for July 4 at 4 p.m. in room 2202. This gathering will include stories from leaders and will introduce the MDI Missio Dei booklet, printed in both English and Spanish. The gathering will also include a presentation about MDI's three coaching levels: basic: Building a Discipling Culture, intermediate: Developing Missional Leaders, and advanced: Church as Movement.

Marvin Lorenzana, director of MDI, will also lead an MDI workshop July 5 from 9-10 a.m. in room 2205. The workshop will focus on the initiative as a tool to help church leaders explore the practice of missional church thinking. Participants will be challenged to consider participation in the next MDI cycle, scheduled to begin Oct. 1.

Lorenzana will also lead a workshop called "Church as Movement" on July 5 from 4-5 p.m. in room 3501D. It will be conducted in Spanish and is a continuation of a workshop given by Lorenzana at the Iglesia Menonita Hispana assembly on July 2. He assures convention attendees that the July 5 session will feel like a full workshop on the subject. He invites participants to think of church as a social and spiritual movement — a movement that Jesus called the kingdom of God. The workshop will address important questions about the behaviors of the movement and how we can use them to advance God's mission in the world.

Stop by any MDI workshop or gathering to learn more about the program. Also, visit the MDI page on Mission Network's website, or come talk with Lorenzana at the Mission Network booth in the convention hall July 3 from 5:30-7 p.m. or July 4 from 7-9 p.m. Come to discover more about how you can become a part of the church's culture of discipleship by learning to be more intentional about creating followers of Christ.






​Zachary Headings is a marketing associate for Mennonite Mission Network.



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