I read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to Discipleship. Unfortunately, there isn’t that much good stuff out there. Recently I came across WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering, and Viral
by Steve Murrell. This is one book on the subject that is worth both your money and your time. Don’t pass this one up. I couldn’t put it down. Steve is one of the founders of Victory Christian Fellowship in Manila, Philippines. The church he helped start in 1984 has grown to at least 15 locations in Manila with a combined attendance of over 70,000. I’ve been to Victory churches in Manila as well as some of their many (70+) church plants in places like Japan, Thailand and Dubai. When you see that kind of growth, you have to be curious about how it happened. This book explains the underlying philosophy of everything they do. Some books on discipleship are written by young guys who are still trying to figure it out. Not this one. This is the story of a guy who has been eating, breathing, sleeping and doing discipleship for many years. This will be the first of several posts on this blog on this subject and his book. Here is a quote from the first chapter.
The “wiki” part of Wikipedia is from a Hawaiian word meaning “quick.” While it may seem as though Wikipedia has had quick success, it was actually a bit of an accident.
In 2000 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started an online encyclopedia called Nupedia. The goal was for it to include contributions written only by experts. Before an article could be posted on Nupedia, it had to go through an extensive scholarly review process. That strategy proved to be painstakingly slow. When Nupedia unplugged its servers in 2003, only twenty-four articles had been posted, and seventy-four were in the review process. There were not very many articles, but they were scholarly and professionally written!
In 2001, one year after Nupedia launched, Wales and Sanger started Wikipedia as a feeder system for Nupedia. The idea was to allow non-pros, non-scholars, and non-experts to write articles that the Nupedia scholars would review. The articles would then make their way through the extensive Nupedia approval process. By the end of 2001, volunteers had submitted more than twenty thousand “wiki” articles. It took the experts three years to create twenty-four articles and the non-experts one year to create twenty thousand articles. At the time of this writing, contributors from around the world had submitted more than seventeen million Wikipedia articles, and according to an independent survey, most are as accurate as traditional encyclopedia entries written by recognized experts.
Unfortunately, many churches today function more like Nupedia than Wikipedia. They allow only credentialed professionals to lead evangelism and discipleship efforts while volunteers are expected to show up and pay up, but not engage in serious ministry. Imagine if the situation were reversed. Imagine if every believer, not just paid leaders, were engaged in ministry. That’s a WikiChurch. That’s the Book of Acts. That’s what is behind Victory–Manila’s growth.
Tomorrow we’ll look a little closer at the distinctive characteristics of Steve’s approach to ministry and discipleship.