"The task of disciplemaking is this: We have a world to be won. We need one another," said Rev Edmund Chan as he encouraged churches to collaborate in The Great Commandment, The Great Commission and the Great Consecration of the Singapore Church. Photo courtesy of Disciplemaking Alliance (Singapore).

When it comes to my thoughts on discipling Singapore, I want to bring us back to basics with four essential reminders: What we can be grateful for, the convictions we must have, the commitments we must keep and the anchors we must be grounded upon.

4 things to be grateful for 

1. Singapore has an Antioch calling

That came actually in 1978 with the Billy Graham outreach. Now we are not the Antioch of Asia. We are an Antioch for Asia. We are a sending nation, a nation that is blessed to be blessed.

We have to serve as a blessing. And in stewarding the blessing we are cognisant of this Antioch calling that is ours in Christ Jesus. It’s not the Antioch calling for building a church or building an organisation. It is an Antioch calling for the nations.

Therefore starting here, in our Jerusalem as it were, and then onward to Judea and to the outermost parts of the world, it is important that Singapore be discipled.

2. We have the giftings to answer our calling

If we have a calling, but God has not gifted us, we are in trouble. But the gifts and the calling of the Lord are irrevocable.

In other words, when God calls us, He will empower us, equip us and give us the necessary resources to do what He calls us to do, provided we are willing to wait upon Him.

“If we have a calling, but no gifting, we are in trouble. But the gifts and the calling of the Lord are irrevocable.”

I have the joy of being a third-generation Christian. I was converted in 1968, so I’ve been a Christian for more than half a century. In that passage of time, I see that Singapore has been gifted with amazing leaders.

We have a heritage of American, British and various missionaries coming to plant the Presbyterian Church, the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church. Singapore has flourished as a result of the deposits of these early spiritual fathers. We are indebted to them.

As the Singapore Church matures, we are thankful that there is a sense of a gifting. Every nation has its own gifting. Just like every church has different spiritual gifts, different nations have different redemptive gifts.

Singapore has at least two: We are good in organisation. That’s our redemptive gift.

Secondly, we have more apostolic leaders per square kilometre than about anywhere else on planet Earth who are a blessing to other parts of the world. Please understand, I’m not saying that other countries lack leaders. In fact, some countries have far more leaders than Singapore. But when you look at us, a small country with so many leaders, that’s a blessing.

3. There is a unity of churches

God started unity movements in Singapore years ago, and we are beneficiaries of it. There was a time in the early 70s, when Christian leaders and pastors did not really know one another. There were tensions in those early days between the Charismatics and the non-Charismatics.

But today, we are standing together, shoulder to shoulder, worshipping God, serving His redemptive purpose and showing forth the unity that is in Christ Jesus.

4. We have a window of opportunity

I’m thankful that I get to see this Kairos day for Singapore where the next generation of younger leaders is rising up from different churches and in different movements with a vision and a passion.

Our job as older ones is to cheer them on and encourage that sense of divine Kairos moment when they will rise up and do great things for Christ.

4 convictions we must have 

Even as we have these four things to be grateful for, our second consideration in making disciples is what we must be convicted of.

Jesus Christ is coming again soon.

Why are we talking about a discipleship movement and discipling Singapore? Because of the urgency of the times.

“The first call of the Kingdom is to abide in the King, so that the Kingdom can be advanced.”

Jesus Christ is coming again soon. And because of this, the urgent task is world evangelisation.

The key to world evangelisation is intentional disciplemaking.

That’s not from Edmund Chan. That’s not from any disciple movements. This call is from the Lord Jesus Himself: “Make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

The anchor for intentional disciplemaking is a radical biblical discipleship to Jesus. We cannot disciple Singapore if we are not bringing back Christocentricity to our leadership, Christocentricity to our theology, Christocentricity to our ministry, Christocentricity to the Church.

That Christ centredness is defined by one thing alone: Jesus is Lord. Without the Lordship of Jesus, there is no discipleship.

The absolute lordship of Jesus is something we must return to as a conviction that following Christ and His purposes, abiding in Christ, is the key for the advance of the Kingdom of God.

The first call of the Kingdom is not to advance the Kingdom. The first call of the Kingdom is to abide in the King, so that the Kingdom can be advanced.

4 commitments we must keep

These are the four “greats” in Christianity.

1. The Great Commandment

We are committed to love God with all our heart, and to love one another.

That love agenda cannot be compromised. It is what defines us as disciples of Jesus: “And they shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)

It is not: They will know you are My disciples if you build a mega church. They will know that you are My disciples if you’re able to come forth with an alliance. They will know you are My disciples if you can quote the Scriptures. But they will know that you are My disciples when you love one another.

This great commandment to love God and to love one another is at the heart of the pilgrimage of discipleship that cannot be compromised.

2. The Great Commission

We must recommit ourselves afresh with our energies, our resources, our stewardship and our leadership towards the Great Commission.

In other words, we have to understand that the Great Commission – disciplemaking – is the core mission of the Church.

“Discipleship is the alignment. Disciplemaking is the assignment.”

What is the difference between discipleship and disciplemaking?

Discipleship is the mandate. Disciplemaking is the mission.
Discipleship is the alignment. Disciplemaking is the assignment.

In other words, we have to understand that discipleship is about following Jesus and disciplemaking is reproducing followers of Jesus. When we commit ourselves to the Great Commission to disciple Singapore, we have to start by being disciples.

We have to ask the question: What are we making and multiplying disciples for? The answer is that we might mobilise disciples for world evangelisation. The world is upon the heart of God. This is the why we do what we do. It is a vision for the lost, a vision for the world.

Anything less than a global vision is not worthy of a global God.

The vision is not “disciple Singapore”. That is too small. The vision is God’s vision for the world. And the starting point, as the Church of Singapore, is to disciple Singapore for Christ.

3. The Great Collaboration                                                                                                        

If we have an urgent task to reach the lost and to disciple the nations and fulfil the Great Commission, then we have to understand the need and the commitment to a unity movement – the Great Collaboration.

We cannot do it alone.

One of my favourite illustrations is this: If you are Superman and you can lift 5,000 lbs when the average person can lift 100 lbs, then lifting 5,000 lbs doesn’t cut it if the task is 5 million lbs to be lifted.

We need one another. If you can lift 50 lbs, lift 50 lbs. If you can lift 500 lbs, lift 500 lbs. If you can lift 5,000 lbs, don’t be proud, because the task is not 5,000 lbs. It’s not a bragging right.

The task is this: We have a world to be won. We need one another.

4. The Great Consecration

The hardest challenge before the Church in discipling Singapore and discipling the revitalisation of the Church is this understanding of the Great Consecration.

Collaboration is not the answer. Collaboration is not “you scratch my back, I scratch yours”. Collaboration is a consecration unto Christ, His Kingdom and His purposes.

Without that consecration, there is no true unity.

It is unity in the light of the work of God and the Word of God.

2 anchors we must be grounded upon

1. We must be anchored upon the Word

I don’t know how to make disciples without the foundation of the Word, the enlightenment of the Word and the teaching of the Word, which is basically biblical foundation, theological rootedness and a Christian worldview.

2. We need the empowering of the Spirit 

The act of anchoring is not cognitive, it is obedience.

This is where the rubber meets the road – that transformation of life when we are rooted in the Scriptures and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

There is a discipleship movement leader in Africa who shared a testimony of one of his disciples, a Bishop by the name of Aloysius Agbo. He was converted in St Stephen’s Church, Nigeria, in 1988.

“The act of anchoring is not cognitive, it is obedience.”

Seven years later in 1995, he answered God’s call to fulltime ministry. He served diligently and faithfully and then he was made Bishop. And when he was made Bishop, he worked hard in preaching, in ministering, in leading. His people in his denomination loved him because they thought he was doing so well in the things of God.

But from 2014 to 2018, he hit a season of spiritual dryness. His testimony, in his own words, said: “People viewed me as doing well in ministry and that I am a humble bishop and dealt with a lot of spiritual gifts. What people did not realise was that, at that point in my life, I was feeling spiritually empty and dry and noticing spiritual weaknesses and sins.

“I discovered weaknesses I never knew were there: Pride. Being easily provoked. Not understanding my wife. Lack of good communication in my marriage. As well as many others.”

Then in 2019, he joined a discipleship training. And after the training, this is what he wrote in November 2019: “It was not long before people around me began testifying to the new person I was becoming. The transformation was so much that the whole diocese where I served noticed the transformation. The diocese declared 2020 to 2030 a decade of discipleship. As urgent as I wanted everyone around me to experience the transformation, the principle of ‘dream big, start small and build deep’ was fresh in my memory.”

So he started with four senior pastors and, as a bishop, he discipled them. Then from these four senior pastors, he went to the archdeacons and he discipled them. And the archdeacons discipled the lay pastors. And the lay pastors started small groups. Then when they were ready, they trained every one of their clergy, every one of their lay leaders in the church in discipleship and disciplemaking with the vision of making a difference in their nation.

This impacted, not their church and diocese alone, it impacted the national Church. They started with seven bishops in the denomination. And each of the seven trained five bishops in the cohort. So now they have 35 bishops in the denomination trained in discipleship. Very soon, they were able to reach out and disciple 165 churches within that one denomination alone. And then, they reached out to other denominations as well, and saw the multiplying effect of discipling.

This is what he wrote as he came to the close of his testimony: “Above all, my greatest joy about this movement is not just how wide it is growing. But the noticeable change of life demonstrated by those in the movement: The testimonies of victory over sin, healing in marriages and homes, positive change in approach to ministry and life issues. Unity, love and understanding are on the lips of both adults and children. And not just within my own diocese, but in all the 165 Church of Nigeria diocese.”

He concluded: “The phrase ‘dream big, start small and grow deep’ is actually working in a massive way.”

So let’s dream big, start small and build deep because we have a global vision as we disciple Singapore.

This extract of the Word in Season by Rev Edmund Chan at the consecration service of the Disciplemaking Alliance (Singapore) on March 7 is published with permission.

Read more about the newly launched Alliance and how your church leaders can join the disciplemaking movement here.

Newly launched Disciplemaking Alliance (Singapore) to encourage and equip churches in The Great Commission

About the author


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