Encounter Baptist Church’s Journey with 3DM Discipleship and Mission

Encounter Baptist Church is a small Baptist church based in Chadstone.  Over the last several years we have been on a journey learning to integrate discipleship and mission into the everyday lives of people in an ordinary Baptist church.  In this journey we have been drawing on the expertise of 3DM – an organisation that trains churches and Christian leaders to do discipleship and mission in an increasingly post-Christian world.

At the beginning of the journey we had internal structures and processes that enabled Sunday church to operate.  In the area of mission our church ran building centric programs (MOPS, marriage course etc) that could attract outsiders, but didn’t in our case.

Today we still run Sunday church however, we have seen a great change in the area of mission. People have many more ongoing connections with non Christians, are having faith conversations with them, and offering to pray with non-Christians.  Much more of our community engagement happens outside of our buildings.  We have seen unchurched and de-churched people become disciples of Jesus.

This change looks like a journey into mission but first and foremost it is actually a journey into discipleship both for me as a minister as well as the people in our church.   In this journey 3dm discipleship tools and processes have helped us:

  • learn to identify and respond to the discipling moments that occur in all of our lives.
  • continually evaluate whether we are living a balanced life of engagement with God, with each other, and with a lost and broken world.
  • get better at living a rhythm of work and rest so that we are less exhausted, less busy, and more fruitful.
  • learn how to follow Jesus mission strategy of finding and staying with people of peace (described in Matthew 10, Luke 9 and Luke 10).
  • learn how to develop mid sized groups called missional communities which operate a bit like extended spiritual families with a particular mission focus, and
  • develop disciples and missional leaders through a specific small group mentoring process called huddle.

As a result we are developing a discipleship and mission culture that is process driven rather than program driven.  We have a greater understanding of these underlying processes and are able to pass them on to others.

In the first few years of our journey we drew on 3dm expertise mainly through reading books and attending conferences in England.  In the last few years we have been part of a learning community process in Melbourne.  This has been much more effective as we have had regular input every six months from a team of experienced practitioners as well as fortnightly coaching for myself as the team leader.  We have also been able to interact with leadership teams from other local churches who are on a similar journey.

It has been an exciting and challenging journey.  There has been lots of change and growth and there is still more to come.

David Wanstall is the Pastor at Encounter Baptist Church