The third in a series of books exploring the Bible’s models for disciple-making, movement-building and church-planting focuses on the New Testament’s epistles, letters addressed to new believers and churches in the first few years after they were planted. Following the Apostles’ Vision was launched at the annual meetings of the South Pacific Division in Wahroonga on November 13, with author Dr Peter Roennfeldt speaking for worship at the opening of the meetings. This new book builds on his earlier books: Following Jesus and Following the Spirit.
According to Dr Roennfeldt, the apostles’ vision was summarised in Romans 15:23, “That there be no place left where Christ is not known.” He describes it as a “bold vision” but one that is fully in accord with Jesus’ commission to His disciples, including a focus on all nationalities, languages, cultures and relational streams.
But Dr Roennfeldt says he was surprised by the depth he discovered in researching and writing his new book. “I had no idea that the letters were such a rich resource to understand, not only what the apostles had taught, but how they had worked under such difficult circumstances,” he explains. “I had not realised the value of the New Testament epistles for redefining what church could be. Church has suffered serious reputational damage—embroiled in abuse and bullying scandals—and many are weary or exhausted with church. But when we read Paul’s letters in a different way, they suggest opportunities and hope.”
Dr Leigh Rice, director of the Discipleship Ministries Team for the South Pacific Division (SPD), introduced Dr Roennfeldt to members of the executive committee. “The feedback was positive, and Peter’s challenge to personal disciple-making and movement thinking was valuable,” Dr Rice reports.
Karen Porter, an associate secretary of the General Conference and a guest at the SPD’s annual meetings, who worked with Dr Roennfeldt in the Middle East some years ago, led a prayer of dedication for Following the Apostles’ Vision.
While continuing the ministry, mission and processes explored in his earlier books, Dr Roennfeldt says his new book is presented in a different style. “It is a how to book—with many insights into how the principles of the epistles are being applied—but it is not prescriptive,” he explains.
The three books of the “Following . . .” series have been an important component of the SPD’s strategic focus on discipleship, and Dr Roennfeldt has travelled extensively across the region over the past four years teaching these key principles of disciple-making and movement-building. “The main reaction across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific countries—and in other parts of the world—has been, ‘We can do this! We can share faith using Jesus’ model—and plant faith communities as reflected in the New Testament,’” he reports. “In some places, churches are restructuring, members are forming teams according to where they live, Discovery Bible Reading groups are multiplying, and new churches are springing up in homes.
“These books have been a catalyst to journey with Jesus and the early believers. His method is simple, anyone-can-do-it, reproducible at no cost. I think these books have contributed to encouraging engagement as disciples at grassroots level.”
Following the Apostles’ Vision and other books by Peter Roennfeldt are available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, or click here to purchase online.