A Vision for Missionary Discipleship: Win-Build-Send

Optional Lectio Divina Prayer 

  1. Read John 1:35–42.
  2. Meditate on the words.
  3. Speak to Christ about this passage.
  4. Rest and listen in God’s presence.
  5. Discuss together.

PART ONE: WIN-BUILD-SEND

Note: This article is divided into two parts: Win-Build-Send and The Three Habits of Missionary Disciples. It is meant to broken up into two (or more) conversations.

In the early 1500s, two college students, Peter and Francis, were rooming together at the University of Paris. 

The University was filled with all sorts of vices — brawling, drunkenness and sexual immorality — among both students and their teachers. Peter and Francis both stayed out of this trouble, but more out of fear than piety. Francis hoped to use his nobility to live a posh lifestyle in luxury and comfort. Peter, however, could not quite decide what he wanted to do. At times he wanted to get married and become a lawyer, a teacher or a physician; at other times, he wanted to become a simple priest or monk.

For three years, Francis and Peter continued to room together, until one day, their lives were completely changed. A thirty-six-year-old man named Ignatius became their new roommate. Ignatius had already lived a storied life. He began his young career in pursuit of worldly fame and fortune through military conquest; however, a cannonball to the leg left him bedridden for months. With nothing but time on his hands, Ignatius turned to the only books available to him: the Bible and a book on the lives of the saints. Reading these books led to a conversion experience, and Ignatius devoted his life completely to serving God.

Peter, like many other students, was quickly moved by Ignatius and soon shared his desire to win souls for Jesus Christ. He became a follower of Ignatius’ way of life and wished to join his order. Francis, on the other hand, was quick to make fun of Ignatius and Peter.

For three years, Ignatius invested in Francis. He showed a deep interest in everything Francis did. Ignatius attended Francis’ lectures, found Francis students to teach and even supplied him with money. As his roommate, you can imagine all the time they spent together: studying for classes, sharing meals, having discussions late into the night and taking excursions around town. And yet, Francis was still resistant to Ignatius’ invitations for him to go deeper in his faith.

At one point, Peter left the university on vacation, leaving Francis and Ignatius together. When Peter came back, his roommate of six years had changed. Francis had finally heeded Ignatius’ question, “What profits a man to gain the whole world, if only to lose his soul?” (cf. Mk 8:36).

Soon, the three friends co-founded a new order: the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. Ignatius, whom we know now as St. Ignatius of Loyola, served as the superior general. Peter, now known as St. Peter Favre, went on to evangelize in Germany, Spain and Portugal. And Francis, better known today as St. Francis Xavier, was sent to India as a missionary. He baptized hundreds of thousands in Asia and was, by most accounts, the greatest singular missionary force since St. Paul.

Discuss: What stands out to you about the way that Ignatius evangelized Peter and Francis? What does this story teach us about evangelization?

THE METHOD MODELED BY THE MASTER: WIN, BUILD, SEND

In St. Ignatius, we observe a great example of missionary discipleship. Francis was transformed from a worldly man to an otherworldly saint. But how can you and I accomplish this same work? How can we help form others who both know Jesus Christ and share him with the world?
The Church identifies three general phases in the process of someone’s journey as a missionary disciple, phrases we simply call Win, Build and Send. These phases are separated by two key moments: saying yes to Jesus and the Gospel and accepting the High Call to Mission. As we seek to form missionary disciples, each of these phases has its own goals and objectives. Let’s look at these key phases and learn how we can accompany others in becoming missionary disciples.

Note: As you read this section, please refer to the Prayer and Accompaniment chart, which provides a visual representation of this path of missionary discipleship. This tool will be discussed in various articles throughout this “Send” section of articles as a tool for praying for others and walking with them in mission.

Win

The first step to forming missionary disciples is to lead people to a conversion, to a life-shaping encounter with Jesus Christ — one in which they turn away from sin, surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord and follow him as his disciples. Many people might know about Jesus and the Catholic Faith, but a disciple is someone who knows Jesus personally in the biblical, covenantal sense of being in a close, abiding friendship with him. Jesus isn’t only informing us of his teachings; he is proposing a whole new way of living — living like him and living with him at the very center of our lives.
In this stage, we introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ and his saving message of the Gospel (see articles 1.0 – 1.1). We do this primarily through our witness. In the words of Pope St. Paul VI, “Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness.” (1) Our prayer, our example of life, our genuine friendship with the person we are forming all contribute to leading souls closer to Christ. More important than any faith formation program, resource or study is the living witness of faithful Christians.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

The Gospel

But our living witness is not enough. After we have reached out and established a relationship of trust with the people we are leading, we will want to share the Gospel with our words (see article 2.0). According to Paul VI, “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed.” (2) This proclamation can take several forms. However, we have found that a presentation of the Gospel itself and an explicit invitation to say “Yes” to Jesus is one of the most effective.

Acceptance of the Gospel is a crucial moment. Jesus himself says, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Sometimes we want to teach others all sorts of wonderful truths about the Faith, but when those truths are not preceded by an interior conversion, a true commitment to Christ, they often fail to penetrate deeply the hearts of those who hear them. Therefore, it’s crucial that we invite others to surrender to Jesus and allow him to reign over their lives. Once someone personally accepts the Gospel, we can move in our efforts from proclaiming Christ in evangelization (which we call the “Win” phase) to helping them cultivate a “program of life” that deepens one’s adherence to Christ (which we call the “Build” phase). (3)

Build

Once someone has surrendered their life to Christ, it’s crucial we “build” them up in the Faith. Within FOCUS, one way we do this is by inviting the person to meet occasionally, either one- on-one or in groups, for ongoing formation in the Faith. This formation aims to give disciples of Jesus an “apprenticeship in the Christian life,”4 a specific way to begin living out their commitment to Christ. It also allows us to continue journeying with them further along the path of missionary discipleship.

In the words of Pope Paul VI,

“Proclamation only reaches full development when it is listened to, accepted and assimilated, and when it arouses a genuine adherence in the one who has thus received it … an adherence to the truths which the Lord in his mercy has revealed; still more, an adherence to a program of life — a life henceforth transformed.” (5).

That program of life can be summarized in the four key habits of a disciple found at the very beginning of Christianity: prayer, fellowship, the sacramental life and their formation in Christ’s teachings (cf. Acts 2:42) (see articles 3.0 – 3.5). Cultivating these four habits of a disciple helps people deepen their friendship with Christ. Through these practices, disciples begin to think more with the mind of Christ and take on the character of Christ. The goal is for them to become more and more like Jesus.

But we don’t just talk about these things. We also model the Christian life for them, accompanying them in living out these basic practices: praying with them, frequenting the sacraments with them, serving the poor with them and, over time, giving them incremental opportunities to practice leading others in these areas themselves.

FACT and the High Call to Mission

As we build others up in the practice of the faith, it’s important that we also lead them to embrace Christ’s mission: “It is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.” (6) The High Call to Mission is an explicit invitation to participate in the Church’s mission of evangelization.

While all Christians are called to become missionary disciples, those who are already faithful to Christ and the Church, available with their time, contagious in their Faith and teachable in their heart are ready to answer the call to mission most wholeheartedly and effectively. These four qualities can be summed up with the acronym FACT. Let’s look at each one:

  • Faithful — A missionary disciple must be a faithful disciple first, someone who is fervently living friendship with Jesus Christ, living the four practices of a disciple in Acts 2:42 (prayer, fellowship, the sacraments, and the teaching of the Apostles) and seeking to deepen their intimacy with Christ. They are also faithful to Jesus in moral authority, living beyond reproach, which flows from a willingness to ask more of themselves than they do of others — especially in terms of chastity, sobriety and excellence (the “Big 3”). And they are faithful to the Catholic Church and believe all her teachings.
  • Available — They must be willing to make time to meet with you and make time to give themselves to the people they are leading. They are willing to make time in their schedule for Christ and the mission to share him with others. Being available doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. It simply means they are so strongly committed to Christ that they make him and his mission a priority in their lives.
  • Contagious — They radiate the joy of the Gospel — including the fruits of the spirit (peace, joy, patience, gentleness, etc.) that draw others to Christ (Gal 5:22–23). They also possess the basic human formation necessary to lead and inspire others. This doesn’t mean they have to be extroverted, popular or “cool.” Simply, the way they live their life renders the Christian life attractive. They are willing to step out of themselves and draw others in.
  • Teachable — A missionary disciple is willing to learn from others, including you and other leaders in the ministry, the pastor and parish staff. They humbly acknowledge they don’t have it all figured out and are willing to grow and receive training or correction.
These are four key characteristics we should be looking for in potential leaders — the people to whom we present the High Call to impact the world as a missionary disciple (see articles 4.0 – 4.1).

Once we discern someone is FACT, it’s time to share the High Call to Mission (see article 4.2). This is an explicit invitation to participate intentionally in the Church’s mission of evangelization. Often, people do not understand the great need for evangelization unless someone explains it to them. The High Call allows you to express clearly both the importance of mission and the role that each of us can play in bringing souls to Christ and forming them to do the same for others.

Send

Once someone has accepted the High Call to Mission, we move into what we call the “Send” phase. A successful missionary disciple isn’t someone who merely forms others in the Faith. Indeed, we have not succeeded in forming missionary disciples until the people we serve begin evangelizing and forming missionary disciples of their own who go out and evangelize others. It is only then that the “Little Way of Evangelization” truly begins to take off.

To do this, we need to train Christian disciples in the work of mission. Paul VI writes, “A serious preparation is needed for all workers of evangelization.” (7) We’ve seen already how saints, like St. Ignatius in the story above, did not merely pass on good Christian teaching to their disciples. They also sent them out to find other trustworthy people to train them to do the same for others (2 Tim 2:2) — in other words, St. Ignatius trained his disciples to raise up missionary disciples of their own. The articles in the “Send” section of this book can help you in the work of launching others in the work of missionary discipleship (see articles 5.0 – 6.4).

A Final Note: It’s important to note that these stages build upon one another — one stage does not completely end when another begins. We should continue to win hearts to an ever-deeper love for Christ while building them up in the Faith, and we should continue to win and build while sending them on mission. We all need to ponder the Gospel and the call to evangelization repeatedly throughout our lives so we can embrace them more deeply as we grow as missionary disciples.

Discuss: Are you prepared to win, build and send others? Who in your life needs winning, building and sending? Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to help others grow?

PART TWO: THE THREE HABITS OF MISSIONARY DISCIPLES

Note: This article is divided into two parts: Win-Build-Send and The Three Habits of Missionary Disciples. It is meant to broken up into two (or more) conversations.

THREE HABITS OF MISSIONARY DISCIPLES

If we are going to live this model of Win-Build-Send effectively, we need to be people totally transformed by Christ, people committed to loving him with all our hearts, loving others and living his mission in the world. Over the years in FOCUS, we have found three key habits of a missionary disciple that seem most important to helping us become the kind of people who can encourage and form other missionary disciples: Divine Intimacy, Authentic Friendship and Clarity and Conviction about the Little Way of Evangelization.

Divine Intimacy

Like St. Ignatius in the story above, we missionary disciples should have as our first goal to cultivate a deep, personal friendship with Jesus Christ. Evangelization is first and foremost the work of God, and we will be fruitful in the mission of sharing the Gospel only to the extent that we ourselves are abiding in deep union with him. The Gospel tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

How do we grow in our union with Christ? By following the four key practices to which the earliest disciples of Jesus dedicated themselves: prayer, fellowship, the sacraments and forming our minds with the teachings of Christ (see Acts 2:42). These are the four main ways we continually renew our encounter with Christ and grow in divine intimacy.

What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2

Authentic Friendship

In forming missionary disciples, it is not enough to pass on the Gospel message and the teachings of the Church. That is essential, but we must do more. We must genuinely love the people we are serving, accompanying them in life and personally investing ourselves in them through authentic friendship. Think of how Ignatius invested deeply in Francis and Peter: He talked with them, spent with them, gave them his time and attention. We need to do the same with the people we serve. This certainly includes religious activities, but we ought to share every part of their lives except sin.

St. Ignatius lived out the words in 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

Personal investment in the people we’re serving matters, especially outside of formal settings like Bible study. A true missionary disciple gets to know the people he serves. He doesn’t passively wait for people to come to him. He goes out to them, takes an interest in their interests, visits them in their settings and is a true friend, not simply a small group leader. Consider the words of Pope Francis: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives … Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep,’ and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.” (8)

Clarity and Conviction about the Little Way of Evangelization

Think back to the story of St. Ignatius. From the very beginning, he was laboring with clarity and conviction about his mission of evangelization. He invested his life in Francis and Peter. He helped them grow. From the beginning, he sought them out as men whom he would train to evangelize the world.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts Timothy: “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It isn’t enough to teach people the Christian life; we must also teach them to teach others the Christian life. True disciples of Jesus are not only faithful but also fruitful — fruitful in holiness, fruitful in mission.

As we aim to form missionary disciples, we must have both clarity and conviction about the Little Way of Evangelization. First, do we have clarity about the way Jesus evangelized, about what we have called the “Method of Modeled by the Master”? The method Jesus modeled was not one centered on a big way, with a big platform and a big audience. It was a little way. Jesus set out to bring the Gospel to the entire world by investing deeply in twelve men, forming them in the ways of his kingdom and training them out to do the same for others. And it was that approach that transformed the world. Second, do we have conviction that Jesus’ example models for us the best way to evangelize? Do we have the conviction that if we imitate Jesus’ way of evangelization we can be most effective in our mission and help transform our own world today with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we have the conviction to prioritize this mission in our lives, making time for this urgent task and pouring our lives out into it? Do we have the conviction that this mission is not a job or something extra we do but is at the heart of our identity as disciples of Jesus?

Discuss: How can you begin to live these three habits more effectively?

TAKE ACTION

While this article is full of many inspiring, but also challenging, ideas, don’t let that overwhelm you. You won’t do everything in this article tomorrow. However, it is important that we see the big picture as we begin. Souls are at stake!

One simple first step is to take a look at the “Prayer and Accompaniment Chart” on pg. 159 and the guide following this article. Then, take some time to pray and ask the Lord: Who in your life is he inviting you to invest in as you read about in this article? Write down the names of the people in your life in the appropriate places in the chart. In future articles, you will learn more about praying for these people and accompanying them on the journey of Christian discipleship.

KEY CONCEPTS

Win-Build-Send: A simple way to describe the three general phases that the Church identifies in the process of someone’s journey as a Christian disciple, in which they move from conversion to Christ (“Win”), to deepening one’s adherence to Christ and the Church (“Build”), to going out to evangelize others (“Send”)

FACT — Faithful, Available, Contagious, Teachable: While all Christians are called to become missionary disciples, those who are already faithful to Christ and the Church, available with their time, contagious in their faith and teachable in their heart are ready to answer the call to mission most wholeheartedly and effectively.
Three Habits of Missionary Disciples: Divine Intimacy, Authentic Friendship, Clarity and Conviction for the Little Way of Evangelization

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Making Missionary Disciples by Curtis Martin
  • SLS18 talk on focusequip.org: The Method Modeled by the Master by Curtis Martin
  • Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell

Notes

(1) Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, accessed May 25, 2020, Vatican.va, 21.

(2) Ibid., 22.

(3) Ibid., 23.

(4) Congregation for the Clergy, General Direectory for Catechesis, accessed November 5, 2020, Vatican.va, 56.

(5) Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, accessed May 25, 2020, Vatican.va, 23.

(6) Ibid., 24.

(7) Ibid., 73.

(8) Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, accessed November 4, 2020, Vatican.va, 24.

PRAYER AND ACCOMPANIMENT CHART

The “Prayer and Accompaniment Chart (pg. 159) is a clear and simple tool that you can use as you are investing in others and forming faithful disciples of Jesus who will lead others on mission.

You will see that this tool is divided into the three main categories: Win, Build and Send. In each category, there is empty space for you to write in the names of people you are serving and even to make notes regarding next steps for you to take as you are accompanying them.

But this tool is not just for planning; it is primarily a tool for prayer. You can use this chart to pray for those you are leading, to entrust them to God and to ask him what he desires to do next in their lives. You can find a printable version of this chart at www.focusequip.org, so you can keep this chart in your Bible, your journal or wherever else you will have access to it when you pray. This will allow you to keep your mission rooted in prayer and will remind you to be frequently interceding for those the Lord has entrusted to you.

For more on how to lead others along the journey of missionary discipleship, see the article “Walking With Others in Discipleship” on pg. 212.

For more on how to pray for others, see the article “Intercessory Prayer” on pg. 252.