Mission

A Vision for Missionary Discipleship: Win-Build-Send

This article lays out the vision for missionary discipleship, allowing you to have clarity regarding the mission of spiritual multiplication.

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A Vision for Missionary Discipleship: Win-Build-Send

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A Vision for Missioanry Discipleship: Win-Build-Send

Optional Lectio Divina Prayer 

  1. Read John 1:35-42. 
  2. Meditate on the words. 
  3. Speak to Christ about this passage. 
  4. Rest and listen in God’s presence. 
  5. Discuss together.

In the early 1500s, two college students, Peter and Francis, were rooming together at the University of Paris. The University was filled with all sorts of vices—brawling, drunkenness, and sexual immorality—among both students and their teachers. Peter and Francis both stayed out of this trouble, but more out of fear than piety. Francis hoped to use his nobility to live a posh lifestyle in luxury and comfort. Peter, on the other hand, could not quite decide what he wanted to do. At times he wanted to get married and become a lawyer, a teacher, or a physician; at other times, he wanted to become a simple priest or monk. 

For three years, Francis and Peter continued to room together— and then, one day, their lives were completely changed. A thirtysix- year-old man named Ignatius became their new roommate. Ignatius had already lived a storied life. He began his young career in pursuit of worldly fame and fortune through military conquest; however, a cannonball to the leg left him bedridden for months. During this time, he had a conversion experience and devoted his life completely to serving God. 

Peter, like many other students, was quickly moved by Ignatius and soon shared his desire to win souls for Jesus Christ. He became a disciple of Ignatius and wished to join his order. Francis, on the other hand, was quick to make fun of Ignatius and Peter. 

For three years, Ignatius invested in Francis. He showed a deep interest in everything Francis did. Ignatius attended Francis’ lectures, found Francis students to teach, and even supplied him with money. As his roommate, you can imagine all the time they spent together: studying for classes, sharing meals, having discussions late into the night and taking excursions around town. And yet, Francis was still resistant to Ignatius’ invitations for him to go deeper in his faith.

At one point, Peter left the university on vacation, leaving Francis and Ignatius together. When Peter came back, his roommate of six years had changed. Francis had finally heeded Ignatius’ question, “What profits a man to gain the whole world if only to lose his soul?” 

Soon, the three friends co-founded a new order: the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. Ignatius—whom we know now as St. Ignatius of Loyola—served as the superior general. Peter—now known as St. Peter Favre went on to evangelize in Germany, Spain and Portugal. And Francis—better known today as St. Francis Xavier—was sent to India as a missionary. He baptized hundreds of thousands of souls in Asia and was, by most accounts, the greatest singular missionary force since St. Paul.

Discuss

What stands out to you about the way that Ignatius evangelized Peter and Francis? What does this story teach us about evangelization?


Three Habits of Missionary Disciples

In St. Ignatius, we observe a great example of “making disciples” (Mt 28:18). Francis was transformed from a worldly man to other-worldly saint. But how can you and I accomplish this same work? How can we make disciples who both know Jesus Christ and share him with the world? Let’s explore some of the key principles for making missionary disciples.

Divine Intimacy

Like Ignatius, as men and women committed to forming disciples, our first goal is to have a deep, personal friendship with Jesus Christ. Evangelization is first and foremost the work of God, and we will be fruitful in the mission of sharing the Gospel only to the extent that we ourselves are abiding in deep union with Him. The Gospel tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). As Pope St. Paul VI explained, “Only your personal and profound union with Christ will assure the fruitfulness of your apostolate whatever it may be.”17 

How do we grow in our union with Christ? By following the four key practices to which the earliest disciples of Jesus dedicated themselves: prayer, sacraments, fellowship and forming our minds with the teachings of Christ (see Acts 2:42). These are the four main ways we continually renew our encounter with Christ and grow in divine intimacy.

Authentic Friendship

In forming missionary disciples, it is not enough to pass on the Gospel message and the teachings of the Church. That is essential, but we must do more. We must genuinely love the people we are serving, accompanying them in life and personally investing ourselves in them through authentic friendship. Think of how Ignatius invested deeply in Francis and Peter—talking with them, being with them, giving his time and attention to them. We need to do the same with the people we serve. 

St. Paul models this in the way he himself evangelized— giving people not just the truths of the Faith, but pouring his life out into the people he was serving. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, he writes, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 

Personal investment in the people we’re serving matters— especially outside of formal settings like Bible study. A true missionary disciple gets to know the people he serves. He doesn’t passively wait for people to come to him. He goes out to them, takes an interest in their interests, visits them in their settings and is a true friend, not simply a small group leader. Consider the words of Pope Francis: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives….Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep’ and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.”18

Clarity and Conviction for Spiritual Multiplication

Think back to the story of St. Ignatius. From the very beginning he was laboring with clarity and conviction. He invested his life in Francis and Peter. He helped them grow. And, from the beginning, he sought them out as men that he would train to evangelize the world. 

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts Timothy, “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It isn’t enough to teach people the Christian life; we must also teach them to teach others the Christian life. Disciples must not only be faithful, but also fruitful.

As we strive to make disciples, we must have both clarity and conviction about Spiritual Multiplication—the method by which we imitate Jesus, who invested in a few and commissioned them to do the same. This is the “Little Way of Evangelization.” We must have clarity that this is the most effective way to fulfill the great commission and the conviction to prioritize this mission in our lives. If we are faithful to this model, if we invest deeply in a few and if we make investment in their lives a priority, preparing them to be not only faithful but also fruitful, then we can have a profound impact on the world for Jesus Christ.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
  1 Thessalonians 2:8  

Discuss

How have you already lived these three habits? Where do you still need to grow? Are you living divine intimacy, seeking to know Jesus in a deep, personal way? Are you loving the people you serve through authentic friendship? Do you have clarity and conviction about spiritual multiplication?


The Method Modeled by the Master: Win, Build, Send

As we seek to raise up missionary disciples, there are several key steps or phases along the way, each with its own objectives. Let’s look at these key moments in the journey:

Win

The first step to forming missionary disciples is to lead people to a life-shaping encounter with Jesus Christ—one in which they become a true disciple of Jesus, where Christ is not just a part of their lives but becomes the very center. Many people might know about Jesus and the Catholic Faith.

But a disciple is someone who knows Jesus personally in the biblical covenantal sense of being in a close, abiding friendship with him. Jesus himself says, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). In the win stage, our goal is to invite people to this kind of friendship with Christ. We do this through our prayer and example and though investing our lives in authentic friendships, sharing the Gospel message and inviting them to say “Yes” to Christ—to surrender their lives to Him.

Build

Once someone has surrendered their lives to Christ, it’s crucial we “build” them up in the Faith. We help them deepen their divine intimacy by growing in prayer, fellowship, the sacramental life and their formation in Christ’s teachings (cf. Acts 2:42). We also begin to cast a vision for evangelization, and train them in practical skills of sharing their faith (such as how to lead a Bible study, give a testimony, do incarnational evangelization, etc.). But we don’t just talk about these things, we model Christian leadership for them, give them opportunities to accompany us while we’re on mission and, over time, even give them incremental opportunities to practice leadership themselves.

Send

Pope St. Paul the VI wrote, “It is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.”19 Jesus says something similar, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (Jn 15:8). 

That’s why a successful missionary disciple isn’t someone who merely forms others in the faith. Indeed, we have not succeeded in forming missionary disciples until we launch them as spirit-filled evangelists themselves. When disciples become disciple-makers, the “Little Way of Evangelization” begins to take off. 

We’ve seen how St. Paul did not merely pass on good Christian teaching to his disciples. He sent them out to find other trustworthy people to train them to do the same for others (2 Tim 2:2)—in other words, he trained his disciples to become disciple-makers.

FACT (Faithful, Available, Contagious and Teachable)

While all Christians are called to become missionary disciples, those who are already faithful to Christ, available with their time, contagious in their faith and teachable in their heart are ready to answer the call to mission most wholeheartedly and effectively. These are four key basic dispositions we should be looking for when considering whom we invite into discipleship and to whom we give extra training for mission. These four qualities can be summed up with the acronym FACT:

Faithful—A missionary disciple must be a faithful disciple first, someone who is passionately pursuing Jesus Christ, living the four habits of a disciple in Acts 2:42 (prayer, sacraments, fellowship and the teaching of the apostles) and seeking to deepen their intimacy with Christ. They are also faithful to Jesus in moral authority, living beyond reproach, especially in terms of chastity, sobriety and excellence (the “Big 3”). And they are faithful to the Church and believe all her teachings.

Available—They are willing to make time in their schedule for Christ and the mission to share him with others. This doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. It simply means they are so strongly committed to Christ that they make him and his mission a priority in their lives. 

Contagious—They radiate the joy of the Gospel and possess the basic human formation necessary to lead and inspire others. This doesn’t mean they have to be extroverted, popular or “cool.” Simply, the way they live their life renders the Christian life attractive. They are willing to step out of themselves and draw others in. 

Teachable—They are willing to learn from others, including FOCUS leaders and local chaplains and campus ministers. They humbly acknowledge they don’t have it all figured out and are willing to grow and receive training or correction. 

These are four key characteristics we should be looking for in the people to whom we present the High Call to Christian leadership and to changing the world as a missionary disciple.

A Final Note

It’s important to note that these stages build upon one another. They are not completely separate phases where one stage ends when another begins. We should continue to win while building, and we should continue to win and build while sending. We must continue to invest deeply in these friendships and always continue to pursue Christ together.

This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  John 17:3  

Discuss

How have you experienced being won, built and sent? Are you prepared to win, build and send others? Who in your life needs winning, building and sending?


Practical Steps: A Missionary Disciple's Examination of Conscience

So many practical steps could be involved in discipleship, but here are a few things for you to prayerfully reflect upon as you seek to make disciples:

Winning through Authentic Friendship 

Do you tend to stay in the familiarity of your own circle of friends and ministry programs? Or are you going out of your comfort zone to get to know people who don’t know Christ—people at work, in your classes, your activities? Are you on the lookout for opportunities to share Christ with people not yet connected with Catholic programs? Or do you spend most of your time with those who already are committed to the Faith? 

Do you live incarnational evangelization, imitating Jesus, by going out into their world? Do you take an interest in what they’re interested in? Do you hang out where they hang out? Or do you prefer to wait for people to come to you? 

Do you share life with the people you lead? Do you spend time with them outside of Bible study and formal meeting times? Do you accompany them amid ordinary daily life? Do you ever stop by their dorm or house or where they hang out? Do you, in the words of Pope Francis, “take on the smell of the sheep” or is your life far removed from theirs? Are you creating shared experiences–social time, road trips, retreats, a common passion? 

Are you an authentic friend to them or just a Bible study leader? Are you seeing people with the eyes of Christ, as souls worthy of your love? 

Are you giving yourself as a gift? Are you willing to make sacrifices for the people you serve—a late ride home, a tough conversation, rearranging your schedule when they need your time and attention? 

Building in Divine Intimacy 

Are you helping disciples grow in the four practices of Acts 2:42? Are you helping disciples “not be conformed to this world but be transformed by a renewal of [their] mind[s]” (Rom 12:2)? Are you helping them develop habits of forming their minds with the truths of the Faith, of being more discerning about what they watch and listen to, of learning about the Faith, seeking spiritual direction or going on retreats? 

Are you sharing in the sacraments together or encouraging participation in Mass, adoration and confession? 

Are you inviting disciples into Christian community, connecting them with other strong Christians? Are you pursuing sanctity together like “iron sharpening iron” (Prv 27:17)? Are you spending radical amounts of time together? Are you helping them be more discerning about what kind of friends they hang out with? 

Do you invite the people you lead to times of prayer? Do you model daily prayer in your own life? Do you teach them about prayer? 

Sending with Clarity and Conviction for Spiritual Multiplication 

Are you living the mission together, witnessing to each other how to share the Gospel? 

Are you investing deeply in a few? Or are your efforts scattered? 

Are you leading a Bible study? If not, when will you start one? Or how else will you make disciples? 

Are you committed to spiritual multiplication, seeking two or more disciples who will raise up two or more disciples? 

Are you preparing to do this for a lifetime or are you simply part of a club or program?

What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
  2 Timothy 2:2  

Discuss

After reading the questions above, what struck you? Why?


Take Action

What in this article stood out the most to you? Where do you need to grow? Discuss how you can take one key step toward more faithful and fruitful discipleship.


Transferable Concepts

Three Habits of Missionary Disciples: Divine Intimacy, Authentic Friendship, Clarity and Conviction for Spiritual Multiplication. 

Divine Intimacy: Evangelization is first and foremost the work of God, and we will be fruitful in the mission of sharing the Gospel only to the extent that we ourselves are abiding in deep union with him. 

“He who abides in me, and I am him, he it is who bears much fruit” (Jn 15:5; cf. Jn 17:3) 

Authentic Friendship: In forming missionary disciples, it is not enough to pass on the Gospel message and the teachings of the Church. We must also genuinely love the people we are serving, accompanying them in life and personally investing ourselves in them through authentic friendship. 

1 Thessalonians 2:8 “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 

Clarity and Conviction for Spiritual Multiplication: We must have clarity that the method by which Jesus invested in a few and commissioned them to do the same is the most effective way to fulfill the great commission. And we must have the conviction to prioritize this mission in our lives. 

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts Timothy, “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It isn’t enough to teach people the Christian life; we must also teach them to teach others the Christian life. Disciples must not only be faithful, but also fruitful.

Win, Build, Send

Win: We must first lead people to a life-shaping encounter with Jesus Christ—one in which they become a true disciple of Jesus, where Christ is not just a part of their lives but becomes the very center. 

Build: Once someone has surrendered their lives to Christ, we help “build” them up in the Faith, deepening their divine intimacy in prayer, fellowship, the sacramental life and their formation in Christ’s teachings (cf. Acts 2:42). We also begin to cast a vision for evangelization and train them in practical skills of sharing their faith. 

Send: A successful missionary disciple doesn’t merely form others in the faith but also launches them to become disciplemakers themselves.

Additional Resources

Making Missionary Disciples by Curtis Martin 

FOCUS Equip SLS18 talk: “The Method Modeled by the Master” by Curtis Martin


17 Pope Paul VI. (1967). Third World Congress for the Apostolate of the Laity [Homily]. Retrieved from https://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/homilies/1967/documents/hf_pvi_ hom_19671015.html 

18 Pope Francis. (2013). Evangelii Gaudium, 24 [Apostolic Exhortation]. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_ esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html 

19 Pope Paul VI. (1975). Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24 [Apostolic Exhortation]. Retrieved from http:// w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19751208_ evangelii-nuntiandi.html