Discipleship Training Developed in a Missions Context

The content and focus of the Keystone Project discipleship training was developed on the mission field in India and southern and eastern Africa from 1994 to 2004 by Keystone Project founder, Richard Greene. As Richard conducted discipleship training for interdenominational Christian leaders in those regions, he became increasingly concerned with the ineffectiveness of local indigenous churches to impact their immediate cultural context or penetrate unreached areas. He saw that this was largely due to a traditional focus on planting western-style churches oriented around a building, resulting in an unintended neglect of evangelism and disciple-making. Resources, training, staff, and energy were being directed towards the establishment of local churches with the hope that these churches would do the work of evangelism and discipleship. In reality, the local churches became high maintenance institutions designed to reach a limited constituency. Evangelism and discipleship became increasingly contextualized within the churches and failed to cross cultural or social boundaries.

The answer that Richard found was to take evangelism and discipleship beyond the local church context and extend it across social and cultural boundaries. This process began by combining the two disciplines into one (i.e., evangelism was integrated into a holistic discipleship process), and redefining discipleship in organic, missional terms rather than academic ones. He encouraged leaders to make disciples as they served the poor, the displaced, and the community. The Bible was learned in the process of doing what it teaches.

The results were astounding. Trained leaders launched disciple-making movements which resulted in thousands of disciples and churches, none of which required outside funding. In Ethiopia alone, between 2004 and 2007, we were able to document 45,000 new churches or cells and 2.5 million new disciples among 19 denominations and non-denominational groups and leaders. In Uganda we have credible, documented reports of one leader who, in the same time frame, has seen over 15,000 new churches and many thousands of new disciples. Similar results have taken place in Somalia, Djibouti, southern Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, Kenya, Zambia, and northeastern India. Some of the countries where movements have been established include Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Cyprus, and the USA.

In 2004, after serving for 5 years in South Africa, Richard returned to the USA for furlough and was offered the opportunity to teach this vision to a select group of international leaders from 85 different countries. A benefactor in Keystone, South Dakota provided hotel accommodations, airfare, food, and materials for these leaders to receive our training for 4 weeks. Many of these leaders returned to unreached regions and have launched significant disciple-making movements.

Until the end of 2009, Richard led the Keystone Project as a missionary serving with the global missions organization World Partners. In January 2010 Richard received the blessing from World Partners to officially launch The Keystone Project Inc. as its own non-profit organization with a fully functioning board of directors. Two significant donations of property were made to the Keystone Project at that time. The first was an approximately 26,000 square foot ministry training center on a hill across from Mt. Rushmore in the town of Keystone, SD. This beautiful and massive structure is being developed and used as the training headquarters of the ministry. The second donation was a fully functioning hotel in Keystone, the Rushmore Express, where we had done the international and domestic training from January 2005 through August 2009. The hotel will provide lodging for those attending training events in Keystone, and will also help support the ministry of the Keystone Project. We are deeply grateful to the Lord and the benefactors for these donations. They will be instrumental in helping us provide deeper levels of training to leaders from all over the world.

Since 2010, the Keystone Project has continued an aggressive strategic training regime with selected leaders in many nations. The bulk of our training has remained in a global missions context and we have placed disciple-making teams in several cities. Our domestic and international staff continues to grow as more people embrace the vision and mission of the Keystone Project. We are excited about the future, looking forward to seeing many more thousands come to Christ. May God receive all honor and glory!”

 

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