• Why Discipleship

    Why Discipleship

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
    - Jesus' words in Matthew 28:19-20

  • Partnerships

    Partnerships

    "And my God will liberally supply your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
    - Phillipians 4:19

  • Why Discipleship

    Back

    Why Discipleship

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
    - Jesus' words in Matthew 28:19-20

  • Partnerships

    Back

    Partnerships

    "And my God will liberally supply your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
    - Phillipians 4:19

  • Join the Mission

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    Join the Mission

    With your help we are able to train leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples.

Is it possible to build and lead a dynamic, healthy, and culturally diverse team to accomplish the Great Commission? We believe it is.

Our experience in working on international, cross-cultural teams has emerged naturally out of who we are and what we do. As Global Disciples, we equip people to reach those least-reached with the gospel in their own nations. We work with clusters of churches in collaboration with a denomination, association, or an existing network of churches – now over 1,400 different affiliations in 62 countries. In partnership with these local churches, we now serve 2,064 locally sustainable mission training-sending programs around the world.

Working as a cross-cultural, international team has been in our DNA since we began 26 years ago, with five discipleship-mission training programs in three countries.

Today, only 19% of our 155 team members are in North America – the rest live and work from their homelands.

We have six people and four nationalities represented on our executive team, and our training Alliance is led by a team of eight from six countries. We travel together, train together, pray and plan and equip each other, across a wide range of cultures and perspectives. And we enjoy sharing what we are learning and hearing from others about what their experiences have taught them.

Out of this, we see four keys to building and leading a strong culturally diverse team.

4 Keys to building and leading a strong Culturally diverse team
  1. Deal Openly with Cultural Differences
  2. Develop Friendship and Build Trust
  3. Determine Clear Focus and Priorities
  4. Define Accountability and Selection of Leaders
1. Deal Openly with Cultural Differences

It may seem obvious but talking openly about cultural differences and expectations right up front – and along the way – is essential for building and leading healthy cross-cultural teams. It’s not enough to think, “Well, I’ll have to get used to that …” as we are often inclined to do.

Identifying differences of perspectives, patterns, or expectations is honoring to everyone involved. Make note of those things – mentally or written down – so you don’t rehash things every time they come up. Decide together about how your team will deal with differences and agree to revisit it later if necessary. This can allow you to move on quickly in a mutually agreed upon way. Be careful to not automatically defer to the dominant culture or the leader’s preference. North Americans often tend to be the first to speak or make statements strongly.

Allowing others to speak first is empowering, even if they need to be personally invited to comment. On issues like scheduling, it is often wise to go with or adapt from the culture of the setting especially for a meeting or training people.

2. Develop Friendship and Trust

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.” That one thing, according to Stephen M.R. Covey, is trust. We agree.

By being authentic, building friendships, enjoying life together, and addressing differences or concerns promptly, we build trust. In most cultures, trust is built on credibility. And credibility is generally established and maintained through at least four things:

  • Integrity
    • honesty, walking your talk, being consistent inside and out
  • Positive Intent
    • our motives, our agenda, and our resulting behavior
  • Capabilities
    • our attitudes, appreciated skills, knowledge, and style
  • Results
    • our track record, getting the right things done in a good way

In our Cross-cultural teams, we talk often about leading by example or “modeling the way.” Sharing this common desire and discipline provides a healthy level of mutual accountability. It gives opportunities to practice “speaking the truth in love” as we seek together to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received” (Ephesians 4:1–15), in which we are humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love, and making efforts to preserve the unity of the Spirit. All this nurtures friendship and trust.

Some of our best interactions come over tea times and mealtimes, sharing about our lives and being disciples as we travel, sharing a room at night, or sipping coffee. As we understand where people come from, their joys and challenges, our appreciation grows.

3. Determine Clear Focus and Priorities

Connectedness and unity on cross-cultural teams grows as we embrace a common focus and reach agreement on what is most important now and in the future. On our teams, we try to keep three things up front: Why are we together (our vision)? What will we do to pursue this vision or accomplish our purpose (our mission and central focus)? And how will we approach this task or responsibility (our core values and guiding principles)?

To answer those questions as Global Dis-ciples we have developed what we call our arena, using the image of a soccer or football field to define where we work and interact as we pursue our mission and vision.

Our mission statement and our central focus (our what) define the goal lines of our playing field. The sidelines are defined by our Core Values, describing how we behave and interact with others, and our Guiding Principles clarify what we do. This Global Disciples Arena has been hugely helpful in defining focus and overall priorities on our culturally diverse teams.

When delegating specific tasks cross- culturally, we broaden this to six questions: Who is to do it? What is it we want done? When do we want it completed? Where will it be done (if that matters)? How it is to be done if we have a preference? And why are you asking your team/team member to do this?

Delegating effectively in any culture is challenging but it is multiplied across cultures and can easily become prescriptive or feel paternalistic. Clarity and attention to ensuring common understanding allows us to avoid many of pitfalls in leading across cultures – if we develop a level of trust and friendship that fosters open conversation about our differences.

Our different views of time and deadlines has led to many interesting discussions on differing expectations. When we built a cushion into deadlines to assure things were submitted in time for printing and preparation, one leader began asking, “Is the line really dead now?”

4. Define Accountability and Selection of Leaders

Clear expectations matter, especially across cultures. Who should set those expectations on cross-cultural teams? The common assumption may be the team leader, but it’s not that simple on healthy multi-cultural teams. A leader’s role is to guide the team through discerning mutually accepted expectations, patterns of accountability, and how future leaders or team members are selected.

This doesn’t have to be laborious, when you go back to the first principles of building and leading culturally diverse teams. Establishing trust and friendship so that differing views can be expressed freely is essential and when paired with a mutual commitment to listen well, to pause and pray – listening for the Holy Spirit’s counsel when differences persist – it makes a huge difference.

We also face cultural assumptions about how leaders are chosen. Within Global Disciples we say, “select well, serve well.” When hiring or promoting staff, we explore their buy-in with our vision, mission, and core values. Without that, there’s no need to go further.

Then we consider with our Four Cs: Char-acter, Competency, Chemistry, and Calling (anointing for the job). In recent years, we have also used Patrick Lencioni’s three virtues of The Ideal Team Player: Humble, Hungry, and Smart (i.e., relationally sensitive and appropriate). Considering these factors together provides a balanced and healthy framework for discernment in hiring and promotions across cultures.

However, it requires time with the candidate or team member to apply these considerations. We have also had a near-culture colleague spend time with the candidate in their home with their spouse and family. In these settings, we have learned much that has averted potentially bad decisions and have never regretted time together while interviewing.

In many cultures, promoting a younger or less experienced person over someone older or with more history is a challenge. It takes time, patience, open communication, and authentic affirmation when working with the older, more seasoned person who is not promoted. By God’s grace we’ve made that transition several times without losing the more senior leader or seeing their passion for our common mission decline.

Finally, frequent, clear communication and well-defined patterns of accountability are essential for building and leading healthy multi-cultural teams.

A lack of clarity in roles, especially cross-culturally, can result in leaders holding back and underperforming because they don’t want to cross the line of their defined responsibility – or they fear stepping be-yond defined responsibilities and creating confusion. Most of our mid-level leaders provide brief weekly reports on key metrics in their jobs.

In senior level roles, a monthly report and call, with other conversations as needed, is our pattern. Most of our cross-cultural team members are self-starters, passionate about what they do – so they don’t need constant communication to stay focused. But we all find it important to clearly know what we are accountable for and by what metrics our performance will be measured.

There’s a deep joy and sense of satisfaction in working with multi-cultural teams as we are compelled by the love of Christ, energized by authentic friendships, and propelled by the common cause–making God’s glory known among the nations!

– Galen Burholder, President/CEO of Global Disciples

Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!

From year to year our Executive Team identify priorities and goals for the next fiscal year. This document is called our “Move Forward” Strategic Plan. Our Four Strategic Focus areas for our 2021/2022 year are the following;

‘Select Well – Serve Well’ – With Clusters of Churches
  • Get ready for the next level.
    • Hire Facilitators who do well as Certified Trainers.
  • Multiply leaders by engaging volunteers 
    • Strategy to test capacity for being Facilitators.
  • Better use of digital media for training & stories.
    • Use local videographers – volunteer or contract.
    • Decide what types of training to use zoom/media
  • Broaden the market of Global through collaboration.
    • Develop strategy to give-away ‘Global approach.’
    • More urban mission as people migrating to cities
  • Launch ‘We’re Global Disciples pledge’
    • Launch the Book Ordinary Disciples, Extraordinary Influence
‘We Do One Thing’ – With our Global Approach
  • Keep our mission focused on the one thing we do
    • Actively avoid mission-drift – using our focus point of our “Global Arena.”
  • Programs focus on developing disciple-makers.
    • Keep measuring outcomes, not just activities.
  • 20% of our Director Training Member Programs using Small Business Development (SBD) & Leadership (LEAD) training.  
    • Research to show impact of ‘Global Approach’
  • Each Certified Trainer teach at least 1 Directors Training annually
    • Develop and equip to empower certified trainers
  • Simplify Strategic planning forms to serve & accelerate vision.
    • Equip our Facilitators to all have prayer groups and include least-reached peoples in all Strategic planning.
‘Fund for Multiplication’ –  With our Finances
  • Develop funding to enter 7 new strategic nations.
    • Goal of 30 new nations in the next 3 years
  • Stimulate Nat’l Foundations growth to multiply.
    • Greater focus on Business Groups as phase 1
    • Do more to resource Nat’l Foundation leaders
  • Be nationally recognized and supported in Canada
    • Donor representation across Canada
  • Ensure each staff member stewards finances well
    • Develop our best practice guidelines for all staff.
  • Have 25% of all our Directors training costs be raised locally.
‘Align & Develop Leaders’ – With our Personnel
  • Invest to develop leaders
    • Pick up revised leadership development strategy.
  • Modify & pursue our A1-B2 strategy to multiply
    • Coach & teach staff for greater effectiveness.
    •  Keep emphasis on multiplying healthy leaders.
  • Pursue hiring Continently or regionally for IT & video
    • Engage continental/regional staff & MarCom in search
  • Broad new strategy for leadership development.
    • Develop baselines & work at Leader Development for all.
  • Sharpen LEAD’s strategic role in Global Approach.
    • Work with church clusters – help multiply leaders.
  • Improve Alliance’s pattern in raising up leaders.

Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!

Our vision as Global Disciples is to see every person have an opportunity to choose and follow Jesus – through training leaders, multiplying disciples and transforming communities.  That all sounds really nice, but is it actually working?   

Randy Friesen, Global Disciple’s VP of Leadership Development shares about his recent trip to Kenya.

Twenty five years ago I brought my family to Kenya for a 4 month ministry sabbatical rest and renewal opportunity.  My uncle and aunt managed the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi, so that was where we often had lunch on Sunday’s.  One Sunday I met a Maasai leader named Sarone Ole Sena at the guest house and he invited us to his home community of Olepolis (which means “the land between two rivers”). 

After a life transforming all day driving adventure we arrived (or rather were pulled by a tractor through the flooded river) to our accommodations at his neighbor James’ house. 

We loved the people of Olepolis, and quickly learned of the huge changes they were experiencing in moving from nomadic to pastoralist lifestyles. 

Fewer than 2% of Maasai at that time were Christ followers, and many men with multiple life controlling issues impacting not just them but their families and wider community.

We helped send a team of 4 college students to Olepolis that next summer, and they teamed up with 4 Maasai college students to serve the community, grow together as disciples and share Christ.  

Flash forward 25 years.  Marjorie and I have been spending part of Jan/Feb this year in East Africa visiting with leaders and understanding the work of Global Disciples in the region.  We had dinner with our old friend Sarone Ole Sena and he said that from 2000 to 2010 he taught the character based leadership training curriculum that Global Disciples uses to over 1200 Maasai leaders. 

For many this was their first training experience, and they were the first from their communities to be resourced as leaders.  When the Kenyan constitution changed in 2010 with the resulting devolution of power from national structures to the newly formed 47 counties, Sarone estimated that as many as 600 of the Maasai leaders trained by Global Disciples were hired into various leadership positions in their respective counties.   

We attended the graduation of the first class of diploma graduates from the Nashulai Conservancy Tourism College in the Mara.  This graduation ceremony could well have been a church service.  Worship, preaching and prayer filled the agenda.  This was a civic event, community owned, and the most Jesus honoring day I have experienced in a long time. 

We learned that current estimates are that 80% of Maasai are currently Christ followers, and the bible is their most respected truth source.  That’s over a million new Christ followers in the past 25 years.  Only the Lord knows the impact of our leadership training materials on this story, but it is significant. 

We’re hosting several Maasai leadership conferences this January because we want to expand our equipping of the Maasai church to reach their communities, nation and neighbors with the good news of Jesus.   

Community transformation does happen and is happening – and together, we get to be a part of it! 

Randy Friesen – Global Disciples, VP Leadership Development

Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!

As Global Disciples, we approach training as transformational. We want ordinary believers to be equipped with the skills or the know-how to share the Gospel and we want to see the Holy Spirit change their lives and empower them so they’ll be able to walk with Jesus as His disciple, and make disciples too.

A report from a discipleship-mission training program in Sri Lanka brought this home. A program director sent two testimonies from participants.

Inesh was a young man who wasn’t sure he wanted to do the training, but afterwards he said, “I praise and thank God for this opportunity. It improved my knowledge in God’s Word, and helped me develop my vision for sharing the message of salvation through Jesus.”

For Inesh, his time on outreach was also significant. “I became so happy when I met people and shared the Gospel message,” he said. “Some people accepted it, but some refused it and chased us away. But I thank God that I became closer to Him, and now I am happy to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with anyone I meet in my country!”

Ravina also finished discipleship-mission training with a story to tell. She said, “I grew closer to God, and He touched my heart through the Holy Spirit. I have the power to do ministry.”

For Ravina, her vision for reaching people expanded. “There are so many people who do not know Jesus in surrounding villages,” she said. “Now I have a burden to share the Gospel with them. And I have the courage to go house to house and tell them about Jesus Christ and His salvation. God is guiding me and using me for His mission work!”

Inesh and Ravina are only two of thousands of disciple-makers being trained and sent out through our partner programs. Yet they have experienced what many others have—a vision for reaching people with the Good News of Jesus, and the confidence that God has called and equipped them to do this work.

May their example inspire us confidently and boldly to share the Good News with those who are within our reach.

A leader with the right heart for God and His mission can see great things happen!

Some people want to be leaders because they want to be in charge, to call the shots, to be the “big man.” Others desire to serve, to guide people or develop new initiatives. And some become leaders because God simply has called them, and given them a clear vision for what He wants to do through them with His people.

Sam and Chris fall into this third category of leader. They’re gifted, called, trained, and with the right heart. But most of all they have a vision for leading beyond themselves.

Both are Nigerian church leaders, and working with Global Disciples to equip a new generation of serving leaders with a vision for reaching least-reached people with the Gospel.

Sam said, “The leadership training from Global ‘lifted my lid’ and got me out of the box I was in.” He’s broadened his focus to equipping leaders who are disciple-makers, ready and able to plant new churches. He and his church cluster have added discipleship-mission training, equipping future church planters. And small business development—SBD—gives church planters and new fellowships a means of support.

What started as leadership development has broadened to include planting 7 new churches. “In some of our churches,” Sam reported, “we have a senior pastor and an assistant. That helps the assistant be prepared to take on a new church as we multiply.”

Chris has a similar story; for several years, he’s been training leaders with the help of Global Disciples. But his vision to develop leaders has gone beyond his own network of churches to other groups and fellowships.

“The training is spreading throughout our region,” he said. “My passion is to see leaders well-equipped. I want to do more to train disciple-makers too, so they can multiply and plant churches.”

As Global Disciples, it’s a joy and a privilege to partner with leaders like Chris and Sam, helping them to equip a new generation of men and women to guide and multiply the Body of Christ in Nigeria, and around the world!