THE CHAPEL OF GRACE, UNIVERSITY OF MAIDUGURI.
CHAPLAIN’S MESSAGE AT THE END OF ITR TRAINING, 2ND – 14TH MAY 2011
God gave the leadership of the Chapel the desire and directive towards discipleship fruitfulness. He also confirmed this with startling signs of great response to God’s Word and the Spirit’s move. In cooperation with God we began to intensify and enhance our discipleship capacity, first from among us and now with help from the Institute of Transformational Relationships (ITR) Jos, Nigeria. The intension is that from now on we shall all endeavour to work continuously together to apply what we have learned in order to produce the fruit of veritable disciples and spiritual leaders for the Kingdom.
CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP is not only about INFORMATION of God’s Word for KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING (Doctrinally) but also has to do with COMMUNICATION of God’s Word for HEARING and BELIEVING (Ecclesiastically), as well as EXEMPLIFICATION of God’s Pattern for BEHOLDING and IMITATION (Relationally) until the full FORMATION of the stature and measure of Christ. This enables the Disciple to do works of the MINISTRY and attain stability in FAITH (Eph 4:11-14): each Disciple practicing the truth in love for the whole body of the Church to be built up into Christ in love, and for all supporting parts and ligaments of Christ’s body to fit and knit together (Eph 4:15-16).
BECOMING A DISCIPLE requires FAITH for translation/rebirth and FOLLOWING for transformation/growth. To be a disciple one must TRUSTINGLY COME TO AND BE BORN INTO CHRIST (by conviction and conversion) and OBEDIENTLY FOLLOW AFTER AND MATURE INTO CHRIST (by communion, consecration, conformation and commission)
MAKING A DISCIPLE is a SPIRITUAL FORMATION travail (Gal 4:19) that requires the equipping TOOL of God’s immutable Word (non-compromisable DOCTRINAL MESSAGE/principles for spiritual illumination) and exemplifying SKILLS of Christly adaptable Ways (customisable RELATIONAL MANNERS/patterns for practical imitation). We have brought you to ITR (or brought ITR to you) to acquire the latter which is very necessary for effective Church ministrations and leadership. Over the centuries the Church has drawn from various aspects of Acts 2 in implementing her soul-winning and spiritual-formation mandates: Propositional (Preaching and Persuasion), Relational (Intimate Mentoring), Experiential (Fellowship-Worship Assemblies), Doctrinal (Didactic Education), Personal (Meditational Devotion), Incarnational (Charitable Godliness), and a mixture of these.
Whatever our emphasized and customized methods, models and milieux of discipleship in the Church, none should be allowed to either overshadow or compete with ministering the absolute Truth of God’s immutable Word (Act 6:2-4; Exo 18:17-23). Without the pure seed of God’s Word in our hearts and the light-lamp of God’s Word on our paths, all methods and structures are of no value. God’s Word is infallible but our relations and propositions are imperfect. The Institute of Transformational Relationships (ITR), has trained us in the biblical nitty-gritty of the age-old Relational Discipleship method and structure which can work even in absence of literacy, money, material and technology.
Let us move together beyond attendance of the public (ecclesial/congregational) RALLY of thousands “in the Temple court” to also develop and inculcate the personal (familial/communal) RELATIONSHIP between relatives “from house to house” (Act 2:41-47; Act 20:7, 20). Let us together operate the whole counsel of God to enhance our preaching the Word with patterning the Ways, the message with our manners, the instruction with our imitation, and proposition with relation. Let us all be committed to begin “TO DO AND TO TEACH” after the model of Christ (Act 1:1) and the Apostles (1Tim 4:12-16). Henceforth let our evangelism, Sunday school, follow-up, fellowship and other disciple-making programmes and opportunities be loaded with relational spirit and strategy. God shall grant signs and wonders in our midst and will daily add multitudes to our number such as are to be saved (Act 5:12-16).
Relational Discipleship skills and structures are indispensable for “pleasing God” and “bearing fruit” in the Chapel of Grace, University of Maiduguri. ITR facilitators from Jos have taken pains to impact us with the essentials of this biblical pattern. God now depends on us to both apply and impact it as we raise disciples and leaders for the Kingdom of Christ. May the labours of this ITR training not be in vain in the Lord (1Cor 15:58); may we produce fruit that abides (John 15:16) and that springs forth to everlasting life (John 4:14) in the Name of Jesus.
Thank you all for responding to this call with a ready mind. May God bless you all beyond measure.
The Venerable Dr Ifechukwu U Ibeme (CHAPLAIN)