International (MNN) — Do you know what a disciple is?
"The average person sitting in row 5 in any church really doesn't have a crystal-clear understanding of what a disciple is," says Denny Heiberg with The Mission Society. "They think that's a graduate Christian, or a pastor, or a missionary, or someone who is on staff."
According to Heiberg, "A disciple is one who follows Jesus in allegiance and obedience to His claims, to His life, His commands."
Through The Mission Society, Denny Heiberg and his wife, Cindy, train church leaders worldwide in discipleship. Their mission is to equip and mobilize an intentional movement of disciple-making followers of Jesus.
The Heibergs teach leaders what discipleship is and how to train others. They have three areas of focus: personal discipleship training for missionaries on the field, Global Outreach Seminars held in strategic cities throughout the world, and assistance for U.S. pastors and church leaders.
Denny says he saw the need for a discipleship-focused ministry after 22 years in the pulpit.
"I came to realize that we here in North America, or at least in the United States, have been taught a Gospel that says, 'You can become a Christian'…but there's no obligation or expectation to truly follow Jesus as a disciple," he states.
Though many North American Christians are familiar with the Great Commission, "Most of us don't realize that near the end of that [Jesus] says, 'Teach these new disciples to obey all that I've commanded you.'"
It's not a problem exclusive to the North American church, though, says Denny. In the short 9 months he and Cindy have worked with The Mission Society, they've seen a lack of familiarity with discipleship around the world.
"These countries and continents have been evangelized over and over and over again," says Denny. "But they have never, in many cases, gone deep to follow-up. People will raise a hand and be enthusiastic, but there's no depth to it."
Learn more about the Heibergs' ministry and how you can help by clicking here.
Pray for wisdom and discernment for the Heibergs as they help church leaders become disciples. Pray that leaders will then carry the training into their church communities.
"The only responsibility we have as Christ-followers, the only authentic and authorized responsibility we have is to make disciples," Denny says.