Vision

Discipleship

Discipleship at its base is the state of living the life of a disciple. A disciple is a follower or student of a master. In the case of us as Christians, we serve the master Jesus Christ.

When the word discipleship is used in Christian circles it means different things to different people. Therefore we would like to describe what discipleship means to us here at VidaNet:

What Discipleship is not:

  • A program of the church
  • A period of growth in the life of a believer
  • Optional
  • A second level in the life of a Christian

What Discipleship is:

  • A life-long process
  • What God intended for all of our lives
  • Intended to be propagated to others

For us at VidaNet the essence of discipleship has three foci:

A continual move towards more intimacy with the master (Relationship with our God)
Jesus calls our attention to the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The life of a disciple is characterized by vision that is continually seeking more intimacy with the master. It is a life of learning to live with him on a daily consistent basis. Jesus says in John 15:4 “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” The life of a disciple is then a daily life-long process of learning to live with, abide in, and remain with Jesus in more and more intimacy each day.

An ongoing surrender and denial of self (Relationship with our self)
The ultimate part of discipleship is for us to be changed into the image of the master. This requires a daily denial or death of self. As humans we struggle with this aspect of discipleship possibly more than any other. Our natures are not prone to this laying down of our lives for the sake of the master. This also needs to happen on a daily basis, in the moment that we are not willing to lay down our “self” to glorify the master, we turn away from the master and are no longer moving toward him, but away from him. Another difficult part is that this self denial is an act of our will. In James 4:10, the author tells us to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” This is not an act of God, but an act of our own will. It is only in an intimate open relationship with the master and through his Holy Spirit that we can even discover the steps that need to be taken. In the end it has to do with being able to echo the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me!”

A life lived to reflect the love of the master to others (Relationship with others)
We are also asked as disciples to reflect the love of the master for his creation. This is important for us in two areas:

  • Fellow disciples- We are asked to love one another (as quoted above from John 13:35) as disciples so that we can be an example to those who have not chosen to be followers of Christ. This love comes through an intimate relationship with the master and a true denial of self which allows us to love each other in truth and humility.
  • The world- The second commandment calls us not to love only those that are fellow disciples but also to love our “neighbor.” Jesus defines our neighbor as our fellow man in his parable of the Good Samaritan.

Therefore, VidaNet believes that a disciple is someone who has considered the cost (Luke 14:28-32) and has decided to follow Jesus Christ with everything that is in them.

What forms disciples:

The Great Commission is what guides us as a ministry. It is found in Matthew 28:18-20 and states:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As we follow this commission and encourage others to do the same there are elements of life that the Holy Spirit can use to “make disciples” and will move us a step closer to the master in our process of discipleship. VidaNet believes that it can “make disciples” by seeing some of the following elements of life brought into play by the experiences that it provides and facilitates:

  • Positive pressure- As humans, we are hard pressed to see change happen in our lives unless there is “pressure.” Pressure would be defined as external events, circumstances, or occurrences that create a dissonance to which we must respond. At times, we have pressure that is involuntary and at other times we have pressure that we choose to have in our lives because it will help us grow. The experiences that VidaNet provides are “voluntarily chosen” by the participants and therefore aimed at providing pressure that pushes disciples to the next step in their process of discipleship.
  • “Out of the comfort zone” experiences- One of the ways to create a pressure point in the lives of the church, is to put them into a place where they are not “comfortable” or an “out of the comfort zone experience.” As disciples, our dependency should be completely on the master. This “uncomfortable”  type of experience is one which serves to cause growth and causes us to take a step further in our process of discipleship.
  • Involving the Church in missions- The great commission that Jesus gave his disciples begins with a very important word. The word is “GO.” We see this word, not as a command to GO and get on an airplane, but instead as Jesus motivating his disciples to be proactive in making disciples. We believe that this call is a call to simply move outside of our proverbial “comfort zones” and make disciples. When the church starts “going” and getting involved in missions it serves as a “pressure point” and an experience which can lead them a step further in the process of discipleship.
  • A greenhouse environment- Plants grow rapidly in a greenhouse environment because they are continually being nurtured and taken care of in an environment engineered for growth. A discipleship greenhouse environment is one in which disciples are nurtured and cared for and “encouraged” to grow in an intense atmosphere.
  • Community- God did not create us to live independent of one another instead he created us as his church to live in community. Closer community relationships mean deeper discipleship.

Missions with integrity

Jesus in his last words to us here on the earth gave us the Great commission of which the essence is “Go and Make disciples. Therefore our mission is to “Go” or move from where we are, this could be across the world or across the street and “make disciples.”

He follows this up by making it clear that it is to “ALL Nations.” The word missions has come to be defined in the church as someone who goes to another country, however we at VidaNet believe missions need to be done wherever we are, in our circle of influence. So God has called VidaNet to provide “cross-cultural” missions experiences to some and work within the “cross” culture (Latin culture) to equip and disciple. Therefore, making disciples of ALL nations, both the “cross” and the “home” cultures explicitly lies within the command of the Great Commission.

When a ministry is working “cross-culturally” certain care and ideals need to be upheld so that we can “as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18) and be effective at making disciples in a host culture. These principles and ideals have been forged over many years of missions and are ideals that VidaNet attempts to uphold:

  • VidaNet seeks to serve and help grow healthy national structures. Healthy national structures would be defined by several different criteria:
    • Self-sufficient- We seek to serve national churches and ministries that are able to support themselves. The idea of VidaNet is to be certain that we do not create dependency on the support that we bring to a national church or ministry. The principle is to serve as a shot or injection of encouragement and not as a crutch. We attempt at all turns to not create a relationship of dependency with national entities.
    • Growing- We seek to serve national entities that are growing through their own outreach efforts. Growth serves as a sign of life.
    • Accountable- We seek to serve national entities that have mechanisms in place that provide accountability. Therefore, we are prone to develop relationships with churches and ministries that are involved in networks or conferences that provide accountability or that have a reputation for being of high integrity.
  • VidaNet has developed and will continue to develop a network of national ministries with which it will relate. This network, known as the “Nehemiah project” is under the VidaNet program DaVida. There are several priorities for us in maintaining this network:
    • Consistent, close relationships- In most of the churches that DaVida is involved, a representative of the ministry is relating to the church on a regular basis. This relationship entails regular visits and regular communication with the pastor or leader of the ministry to continue to be aware of needs and health of the ministry as a whole.
    • Regular presence- VidaNet strives to maintain a regular presence in the country in which it is involved in ministry. Many ministries who realize activities similar to that of VidaNet are outside entities (typically stateside) who have the tendency to be involved with the national church only when they have groups of North Americans on a mission trip. These organizations tend to host groups and bring their own North American agenda and impose it onto the national church rather than establishing a relationship and a presence with the national church that allows them to see and hear what is best for the national church. Through this network of churches and ministries VidaNet strives to, as aforementioned, maintain relationships that allow for a higher level of integrity.
    • A “come-alongside” attitude- Latin America, where VidaNet is predominately involved is a region of the world that has been “evangelized” and churched. Therefore, there are many believers that are available to “Go and make disciples.” VidaNet will work with the local church in seeing it continue to expand the kingdom through empowering and giving life to its ministries. We will seek to not push “our agenda” but walk alongside the local church in seeing their dreams and visions fulfilled.
  • When being involved with Humanitarian work VidaNet seeks to maintain its stance of following the Great Commission, therefore Humanitarian work should be holistic. The humanitarian aid should minster to the physical and spiritual part of the person receiving.

Local church

 

VidaNet believes that it is important for us, as an ecumenical, semi Para-church ministry, to support in every way the work and vision of the local church. We believe that the Church is the body of Christ or his expression here on this earth. The church is the mechanism to carry out the great commission in the world and maintain discipleship in the lives of Christians.

We as a ministry support the local church in several ways:

  • As best as possible, participants and groups hosted by VidaNet work with one specific local church or ministry for the entirety of their stay with us. Therefore, on an outreach of one of our programs one day will not be sent working in a orphanage on one side of town with no connection to a local church and the next day working in a local church on the other side of town. Teams and individuals are dedicated to working and developing relationship with one specific local church.
  • VidaNet strives to come alongside the church and see the vision’s of the church and the pastor grow rather than bring in a new vision, idea, or ministry. The process of VidaNet when planning an outreach for one of its programs is:
  • Sit down with the pastor and the leaders and hear their hearts for the next step.
  • Together put together a schedule or plan that will facilitate that vision for that next step.
  • Facilitate the program or schedule with a constant reminder to the pastor and congregation that this program is here to serve them and therefore at any time they have the prerogative to change the schedule to best fit their needs.
  • VidaNet markets directly to foreign local churches and encourages local churches to see their missions programs grow, with help from VidaNet, by developing relationships with a local church from another culture.
  • Participants in longer-term discipleship programs, such as Vida220, are encouraged, as best as possible to return to their local church and serve. The goal of all our programs is to disciple so that the kingdom of God grows through the local church.
  • As best as possible, we maintain the continuity within denominational lines. Therefore, if the participants in our programs are Anabaptist they work with an Anabaptist local church or if they are Vineyard they work with a local Vineyard.

Growing up and reaching out!

We serve to raise up disciples and send out missionaries to spread the gospel of Christ through acts of love.