St. Pete Beach, Fla.

 BIn the disciple making church model pastors are released to be “equippers and senders,” said David Loleng, at the 2013 Evangelism and Church Growth Conference (ECG2013) here.

 Loleng, evangelism associate for Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA), encouraged those gathered for a September 19 clinic “Life on Life Discipleship” to become “life shapers” in their ministry—by becoming both a disciple of Jesus, and a discipler of others.

 “What is a disciple?” Loleng asked those gathered, reminding them of Jesus call to the disciples, ‘come follow me and I will make you fish for people’ (Matthew 4:19).   “A disciple is someone who knows and is changed by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then sent on a mission of service, justice, healing, wholeness and proclamation.”

 “Life on Life Discipleship” co-presenter, PMA evangelism coordinator Ray Jones gave a practical example of what “life shapers” might look like by showing a video of then 13-year old Natalie Gilbert singing the national anthem before an NBA game. 

 She’d won a contest to sing, but after a great start Gilbert forgot “at the twilight's last  gleaming.”  Visibly shaken—nervous—Gilbert wasn’t sure what to do.  Then Portland Trailblazer coach Mo Cheeks joined her courtside.  Putting his arm around her, he began mouthing the words to her.  Eventually he sang with her, inviting all of those present to join in the singing.

 “What struck you about the video?” Jones asked those gathered.  “She got her voice back… it didn’t matter that he wasn’t a perfect singer… everyone wanted her to succeed… it ended on a good note,” were some of the responses.

 “The video is great reminder to me, that we can’t do life alone,” said Jones.  “We need others to walk beside us, to encourage us.  As you mentor (disciple) others, allow others to mentor (disciple) you.”