Last Thursday, I talked with Laura McDaniel about the discipleship ministries of the Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia (WMUV). Laura serves as the Executive Director/Treasurer of WMUV, and before serving in that role, she was a corporate attorney. She brings to this position her sharp, legal mind, her passion for missions, and a personal missional lifestyle. It is apparent that her passion for ministry comes from the light-filled moment in 1996 in which God interrupted her life. For her, it was not a Damascus Road experience, but an I-85 conversion. While many of us are more likely to lose our religion on the interstate, Laura found and reclaimed the faith of her childhood on that busy thoroughfare.
In previous conversations, Laura had shared with me her excitement for a missional kind of discipleship. For her, “to talk about being a disciple is to be missional.” As she reads the Great Commission in Matthew 28, she hears a very distinct outward focus in the command to “Go and make disciples.” In her context, she has found the terminology of “discipleship” most helpful because its meaning is clearer and more basic.
As WMUV has sought to provide discipleship opportunities, there has been decided shift in the past decade from learning about missionaries and offering prayer and financial support to conveying the idea that “each child is a missionary in their context.” They are also very intentional about finding exceptional women and girls of all ages, and “for those girls who really rise up as leaders,” they work hard at “equipping them to excel.” Their goal is to disciple them and multiply the impact by developing leaders. As a pastor to some of these young women, I have seen firsthand, the effectiveness of what WMUV does.
McDaniel sees a number of movements on the horizon for discipleship with WMUV. Much of this future centers on the development of community for learning and mission work, and relational evangelism, and she hopes WMUV can be place for individuals and churches to come and seek out the best resources for a missional discipleship. She is clear in pointing out that the groups that will thrive within the local church will be the ones that celebrate and maintain an outward focus as a part of discipleship.
Here are a couple of questions that might be important for us to consider for our own contexts?
• How are we equipping those disciples who show leadership potential?
• How do our ways of discipleship offer opportunity to give active response to the beliefs and convictions disciples are embodying?
One resource that continued to come up in our conversation was the work of Mike Breen. His book, Building a Discipling Culture, is one she has encouraged me to read.