Our Greatest Challenge From our General Superintendent

Our Greatest Challenge

David Wells

“Being a disciple-making movement starts with each one of us taking Jesus’ call to be a disciple seriously. You must be a disciple before you can make disciples.”

It’s 2019 and that means we are fully into the 100th year of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s existence. The “Letters Patent of Incorporation” that established the PAOC was dated May 17, 1919, and was recorded on May 20, 1919, by the Deputy Registrar General of the Dominion of Canada on behalf of His Majesty, King George V. Talk about official! 

Seven Canadian Pentecostal pioneers made application for the charter: R. E. McAlister, F. Small, G. A. Chambers, H. McAlister, A. M. Pattison, R. E. Sternall and W. L. Draffin. They envisioned a Fellowship whose purposes would include: worship, instruction, foreign missions, charitable work, the publishing and distribution of Christian literature, and the receipt of funds for these purposes. The past 100 years have testified to the vision of our first generation of Canadian Pentecostals. From generation to generation, people have been brought to Christ and discipled, both in Canada and around the globe. 

The current PAOC mission statement states that we exist “To glorify God by making disciples everywhere by proclaiming and practising the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Our greatest challenge, as we move toward 2020 and beyond, is to be a movement of vital churches, ministries and leaders that make disciples. We are in a challenging environment in Canada to fulfil our mission, especially among younger Canadians. The context we live in is one of moral relativism, theological drift, spiritual fusion, family fracture, and a prevailing atmosphere of personal and societal duress.  

Being a disciple-making movement starts with each one of us taking Jesus’ call to be a disciple seriously. You must be a disciple before you can make disciples.  Still, after years of Christian life and ministry, I am first called to be His disciple. Through prayer and self-evaluation I must continue to ask, “What does it look like to be a committed disciple of Jesus?” Christ leads by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God—I follow.  

As clearly indicated in our 2020 Initiative, the key to fulfilling our Fellowship’s mission is to deepen our spiritual vitality. Spiritual vitality comes through prayerful intimacy with the Father, abiding in God’s Word, and experiencing Spirit-empowered living.  Jesus modelled all of these as He made disciples. 

Discipleship is a process that is Spirit empowered because only the Spirit can transform hearts and minds. It must also be truth based, for it is truth that sets people free. We honour Jesus by teaching His followers to observe all that He commanded. And disciple making must happen within relational contexts. 

Those relational contexts include the family, where parents who love God with all their heart, soul and strength and have the Word of God in their hearts impress those things on their children so they, too, will experience a living faith. (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25.) As we move toward 2020 and beyond, a clear priority must be to strengthen the home as a context where the next generation become disciplined followers of Jesus. 

Our churches are another relational setting where the young and the young in faith can be mentored. Christians who are mature can provide a foundation of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Wisdom is needed in every realm of life and, as the Book of Proverbs indicates, those who are wise can mentor the young in areas such as moral ethics, material possessions, the Divine-human relationship, family relationships, friendships, and the pursuit of a righteous lifestyle. The New Testament maintains this concept. Paul instructs to Titus to have the older men and women of the church mentor the younger men and women (Titus 2:1-8). 

To have a future as a Fellowship, we must see the church—God’s intergenerational family—become the disciple-making, mentoring force it was designed to be. Each follower of Jesus needs wise mentors and peers in their life. Each follower of Jesus needs to be mentoring those who are younger in faith and age. And each one of us needs to have people in our life who do not as yet know Jesus. This will require a reorientation of how we spend our time, energy and money. In this way, the mission of our Fellowship—close to 1,200 congregations and 250,000 people—becomes the mission of each and every one of us: “To be a disciple of Jesus and glorify God by making disciples everywhere by proclaiming and practising the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So we pray: Jesus, we take seriously Your call to be part of this great mission, to see people come to faith in You and become Your disciples. Show us how to participate with You in people’s lives so that Your life is reproduced in them. For your glory we pray these things. Amen.

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