Author: Tim Cook, Lead Planter at 419 Ministries Canada, Church Relations at Maritime Christian College and Regional Director for Renew.org
Happy New Year! This a time of the year when many of us like to make plans for the next twelve months. Sometimes we make plans about how we will earn a living or maybe how we will make changes in a relationship. It is a great time to look back on the previous year and reset. Can you change the course of your career with an online ministry certificate? I wasn’t really trying to do so, but that is what happened to me.
Back in January 2006, I made a decision to reset. I had a successful career as an IT sales professional, working for the largest technology company in Canada. However, I wanted to have my own business. My decision to reset in 2006 was much bigger than shifting from working in the corporate world to becoming a business owner. I made a decision to trust and follow King Jesus and became a disciple in January 2006. By 2007, I was studying at Maritime Christian College (MCC) because I wanted to learn more about the Bible. In 2014, I was ordained and planted a church in a movie theatre. What a reset all of that was! I went from working in the corporate world for my personal gain to equipping disciples to make disciples. I continued to take courses through MCC and in April of 2017, I completed my Bachelors of Bible and Ministry Degree. It was something that I could do from anywhere and was able to complete over a period of years while I was working bi-vocationally.
In this current season, I am planting 419 Ministries which is a ministry focused on making disciples that makes disciples. My studies at MCC made it very clear to me that making disciples was the ultimate goal. I currently host a monthly men’s breakfast where a growing group meet on a Saturday morning at a local restaurant to eat and discuss a story from the Bible. Many that attend are new to hearing the great news of the Gospel which makes this such a joy to be a part of. My wife and I host small groups in our home where adults meet in a relational environment to learn more about becoming a disciple that makes disciples. Our vision is to see these groups branch to create more groups and multiply through a reproducible process which I learned about in my studies at MCC. Our 419 leaders all have the opportunity to be better equipped through studies at MCC and they are encouraged by our leadership to do so. Bursaries are available, making a great opportunity for those who are raising a family or have other financial obligations. Now that I have completed my Bachelor of Bible and Ministry Degree I am starting an additional course of study through an online ministry certificate - Disciple Making Church Leadership.
In my bi-vocational work, I fulfill a part-time contract with MCC in a role called Church Relations. A major part of my role is to come alongside the local churches and help them equip disciples to make disciples. One of the ways we do this is through our programs where local church leaders can work towards an online ministry certificate. I help them to choose the best courses for them, and then we work through the simple online registration process together. In some cases, we have been able to serve entire leadership teams at a church. I love watching students apply the knowledge in their local churches and seeing the fruit where disciples are making disciples.
What about your plans for 2023? Perhaps you could consider an online ministry program? Would it change the course of your career? We have students from all over North America and around the world working on their online ministry certificates.
As the new year begins, many disciples are making plans about what they will do differently in their church life in the coming year. MCC is focused on teaching about disciple making; providing opportunity for church leaders to take an online ministry certificate that helps disciples make disciples.
But why all this focus on disciple making and should your personal 2023 plans include becoming more intentional about being a disciple maker? Signing up for a course in disciple making or healthy leadership is a great way to kick start your 2023 plans. But what is in it for you to do so and why would you make that your 2023 purpose?
In Luke 5, Simon Peter is having a bad morning. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John are just back from a bad fishing trip. They have already met Jesus (from what we can tell from the gospel of John) and they have spent a few months with Him. Now Jesus is officially calling Simon Peter to follow Him and become a disciple.
These guys fish for a living and they had been out on the water all night and had caught nothing, so you can just imagine the mood Simon Peter is in. He is scrubbing the nets when he hears voices and there is a crowd coming who are following Jesus. Jesus stops and asks Peter to use his boat so that the people can hear Him better while He speaks from out on the water. Luke tells it this way:
Luke 5:1-3 – One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat (NIV).
Whenever Jesus speaks, the crowd always seems to be amazed. When Jesus wraps up His teaching, He sends the people away. Simon Peter is probably relieved that he gets to go home now but Jesus has a different idea, He wants to go fishing.
Luke 5:4 – When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (NIV).
Peter is exhausted and knows that the place to catch fish is in shallow water, not deep water and at night versus day and on top of all that, he had just finished cleaning the nets.
Luke 5:5 – “…Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (NIV).
Simon Peter is the fisherman, what does Jesus know about fishing? In our context, we might wonder what Jesus knows about my finances, my friendships, or my education for that matter.
Simon Peter does let down the nets, but he is not very excited about doing so.
Luke 5:5-7 – 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink (NIV).
Jesus really does know something about fishing it seems. He also really knows what He is talking about when He gives us His last words before ascending to Heaven.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and 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” (NIV).
Jesus also really does know how relationships work, how to manage money, friendships, work relationships, marriages, making disciples and the purpose for our lives. Simon Peter’s emotions change.
Luke 5: 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (NIV)!
What he is really saying is that he doesn’t think Jesus needs him. We might say: “My 2023 plans don’t include Jesus using me for a purpose.” What would have happened if the virgin Mary said, “There is no way that the baby Jesus can be born of a virgin”? What would happen to Christmas and our lives? What would happen if Peter were to give Jesus the use of his boat but not allow Jesus to use him?
We probably all watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” over the Christmas season. What would happen if George Bailey wasn’t around to save his brother Harry from going through the ice? Harry wouldn’t have saved hundreds of men during the war and wouldn’t have received the transgressional medal of honour.
There are results of disciple making and it has a purpose. In the Real-Life Disciple Training Manual, it says: “Mathematically if one disciple makes three disciple makers every five years and if those disciples do the same every five years, in ten years there will be almost 180,000 disciple makers. If they continue, in seventy years there are fourteen billion disciple makers. Twice the number of people occupying the planet.” 
But what about you? What is in this for you? God has a 2023 plan for all of us. We have a purpose as disciples of King Jesus to not only follow Jesus but be changed by Jesus and on mission for Jesus.
Luke 5: 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people” (NIV).
Jesus is using language that these guys can understand. Go and fish for people. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and part of His plan is that disciples will make disciples. Jesus wants us on His team.
Peter doesn’t just catch boats full of fish. He ends up preaching an amazing sermon at a feast called Pentecost. After his sermon over 3,000 people get baptized. Now that’s a powerful sermon empowered by the Holy Spirit! Those 3,000 people started what we know as the body of believers called the church.
I think we all want to be part of a church where disciples are growing in maturity and are learning how to become spiritual parents, equipping more disciples to become disciple makers. This results in healthy growing disciple making movements and aligns with what King Jesus commissioned us to do.
The final verse of this story:
Luke 5:11 “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (NIV).
Maybe you have plans to enroll at MCC this year? The results are huge for disciples. King Jesus has given us a purpose to multiply. Every disciple has a purpose to make disciples in 2023; what a great way to wake up every day in the coming year. Committed to the mission of our Creator who created you for a purpose.
At MCC we offer an online ministry certificate in disciple making church leadership. We also offer a certificate in disciple making that is great for anyone in the church. Our new Master of Arts in Disciple Making and Ministry leadership is offered through the same online platform. We serve disciple makers all over the world. Other online ministry certificates are offered in youth disciple making ministry and co-vocational ministry. No matter where you are, we have the perfect program for you. This coming year, you can change the course of your career.
Please contact me to discuss any of these programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
 Putman, Jim; Willis, Avery; Guindon, Brandon; Krause Bill Real -Life Discipleship Training Manual, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2010.