Tag Archives: Christians

Rediscovering Discipleship – A review

rediscovering-discipleship

Rediscovering Discipleship is by far the best one I have read on discipleship, ever. This book, as the subtitle says is really all about “making Jesus’ final words our first work” (front cover). Unfortunately, in many churches, discipleship is more a program or something left for the “professional ministers” instead of something pursued and engaged in by every follower of Christ. One could make the claim this has done more harm to God’s church than any sin. Ed Stetzer, in the foreword, makes this statement: “The Bible tells us that we should be conscious of ourselves and of our teaching…In other words, it matters how you are growing and how you’re leading your people to grow” (p. 11).

Here is how Robby defines discipleship:

Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. (p. 155)

Discipleship should not simply be a committee in a church, or even a program, it should be the life of the church. Discipleship should describe how a church grows, how it lives and breathes. Discipleship should be at the root of everything done in the church. If the ultimate goal and purpose of a program or event is not discipleship, what is it? For many, it simply stops after evangelism. After an individual is “hooked” they are left to themselves. There is nobody there to help them take the next steps in their walk with the Lord. This is extremely detrimental to the life of any church because many churches stop there. After someone makes a profession of faith they are left to figure things out on their own. But that is not how it should be, once someone has made a profession of faith, the work of discipleship begins.

The author quotes Heather Zempel, the leader of the discipleship ministry at National Community Church in Washington, DC:

The first model of discipleship that we see in history is the Relational model, which was the dominant approach to spiritual growth during the first few centuries of the church. It is built upon the premise that discipleship will occur naturally when Christians live in community with one another. Relational discipleship was vitally important during the early church because there was no New Testament and there were very few copies of Old Testament writings available to the common people. Spiritual truths were conveyed through the stories of the apostles and their letters to the churches. (p. 92)

Robby then follows that with this statement perfectly showing what happened to this movement, or the church:

Unfortunately, what began as a grass roots, relational movement eventually turned into a structured hierarchy that quenched efforts at discipling those not pursuing professional ministry roles. The common understanding of the church changed from being a people to a place, from a body to a building. The ministry was seen as something done exclusively by the clergy, while the laity sat idle and took on a more passive role. Institutionalized ministry replaced individualized ministry. (p. 92)

Perfect way to describe what has actually happened in the church throughout history. Discipleship is how the church reproduces itself and remains alive and growing. Discipleship is how God molds His children into the image of His Son. When discipleship is simply reduced to another program offered by the church, we suffer and the church suffers. God desires fully devoted followers of Him, not partially committed followers who only come to Him when life gets hard or when they need something. God is molding and shaping us into the image of His Son and discipleship is how God does this.

From the time Jesus called His first disciples to His crucifixion, Jesus was involved in discipleship. He was training them, preparing them for/ life after He ascended into heaven. This was God’s plan A from the very beginning and there is no plan B. God does not see discipleship as optional like many churches do. He sees it as foundational.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because it really helps paint the picture of what discipleship should be all about. It is not a difficult read but is encouraging and refreshing in that it explains what discipleship is all about and should be all about, and then goes into application by helping the reader understand how they can actually disciple someone. The last part will serve to be extremely beneficial for the Christian who has wanted to disciple but just does not know how.

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

Train yourself and your people not to be impressed with success in the church that does not accomplish the goal set forth by Christ: making disciples. (p. 23)

Discipleship has an end goal: to be conformed into the image of Christ – to talk the way He talked, walk the way He walked, and respond the way He responded. (p. 79)

Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church…shouldn’t it be ours as well? (p. 85)

Just remember, you cannot microwave disciples. It’s a crock-pot recipe. And it takes time for maturity to take root. The wait is long, but the results are worth it. (p. 138)

Fortunately, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, did not prescribe for us a single model of how to disciple. Instead, He gave us a mandate: Make disciples! He didn’t give us a single process; he left us with several principles and showed us by His own examples. (p. 154)

A church member once said to me, “your talk talks and your walk walks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” The way you live speaks volumes about the degree of disciple-making taking place in your church.

Rediscovering Discipleship is all about what the title says, rediscovering discipleship. If you are involved in church leadership, a volunteer, or someone who has just begun their faith journey, this book is for you. It will help you understand how intentional and purposeful God is with His children. He does not simply want people to place their faith in Him and then live life how they want to. Choosing to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him is just the beginning. After responding to the call is when the work really begins, and does not end until our lives end. Get this book, read it and apply it. You will be glad you did. I just think, if every Christian in the world were to take what this book says to heart, apply it and make disciples, there would be no more unreached people in the world today. Besides, what more motivation do we need to make disciples than the fact we are commanded to by Jesus?

 In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Media LLC in exchange for this review.


Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris

 

One of the biggest surprises about this book is its size. When you think of a book titled Humble Orthodoxy, you would think that it would require a couple hundred pages at least to even get warmed up on the topic. Humble Orthodoxy weighs in at 80 pages long, including a study guide. But do not let that fool you. This book is definitely worth your time.

This is now the second book by Joshua Harris I have read, with the first one being Dug Down Deep. It is because I read Dug Down Deep that I was even interested in this book. Josh’s writing has definitely evolved throughout the years from the time he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye and that should not come as a surprise in that most writers get better as they continue writing and maturing. I do not say that because I believe some of Josh’s earlier books were not right on or anything like that but just to say that reading his stuff now is enjoyable and challenging. He writes with an understanding and grasp on topics which he is then able to put in terms that anyone can understand. His readers do not need to have a graduate degree to understand. Along those lines, Humble Orthodoxy is a short, but not watered down product that could benefit Christians of any age.

Humble Orthodoxy is a challenge to believers to hold the truth of God high and not look down on those who might not understand what we do. It is very easy for those who profess to be Christians to get puffed up in their knowledge and understanding and thus wind up looking down on those who have not attained their knowledge. The Pharisees had this problem throughout the New Testament and they are also the ones who Jesus butted heads with most often. But, it was not necessarily the knowledge itself that is bad, but how we present our knowledge. “Orthodoxy refers to right thinking about God” (p. 1) and this book spends all of its pages presenting the fact that in our thinking about God, right thinking, we need to make sure we are living rightly with our knowledge. “Truth matters…but so does our attitude. This is what I mean by humble orthodoxy: we must care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility” (p. 5).

The book is divided into 4 different chapters: Your Attitude Matters, With a Tear in Our Eye, Repentance Starts with Me and Living for God’s Approval. Each of these areas points to humility from a different perspective but helps paint the ultimate picture of how humility should be the main characteristic of our thinking about God. If Jesus Himself did not consider equality with God something to be grasped for, then we as His followers should portray that same humility in our own lives. The only boasting that should come from a Christian is in the cross of Christ. Any other boasting is uncalled for and will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of those who are not followers of Christ. It is extremely difficult for Christians to live as Christ with pride in their lives.

Joshua Harris, in Humble Orthodoxy, does a great job at calling Christians to live humbly and remain humble as they grow in their knowledge of God so our lives can openly and fully portray Christ. With that said, I want to close with a couple quotes from the book:

“If being right becomes more important to us than worshiping God, then our theology is not really about God anymore. It’s about us.”

“That is humble orthodoxy. It’s standing for truth with a tear in our eye.”

“When we know the truth about God – His love, His power, His greatness, His holiness, His mercy – it doesn’t leave us boasting. It leaves us amazed. It leaves us in awe of truth. It leaves us humbled in the presence of grace.”

“We don’t have to be jerks with the truth. We can remember how Jesus showed us mercy when we were His enemies. We can demonstrate a humble orthodoxy, holding on to our identity in the gospel. We are not those who are right; we are those who have been redeemed.”

With that, I will bring this review to a close. It is difficult to write a long review on a shorter book without giving too much away. I hope I have been able to whet your appetite just a bit for this book. As I said, it is a short book but well worth the couple days it will take you to read it. Also, this book would be great for a small group study and even a Sunday school so look into it.

 

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.


Just what I needed today…and everyday.

Just what I needed for today.

So I picked up Tullian Tchividjian’s book Jesus + Nothing = Everything the other day to try to finish it. With the way life went over the summer, I did not pick up many books to read. Now that life has slowed down just a hair, I have made it a point to get back into them. I am really glad I did. I am remembering why I love reading so much. After God’s Word, I love picking up books that challenge me and encourage me through reading them. There is so much to learn from other people who might see something in a way that I might not have yet, or ever for that matter. With that said, what I want to share today on this blog is an excerpt from his book. I hope it encourages you today as well.

Gospel Hub

We’ve recognized that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. That’s because the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.

After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel-always has been, always will be. And since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. We can think of it this way: since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave off the gospel.

In Romans, Paul calls the gospel “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16), and contrary to what many Christians conclude, he didn’t simply mean the power of God unto conversion. The gospel remains the power of God for salvation until we’re glorified. We need God’s rescue every day, in every way, because we are, as John Calvin expressed it, partly unbelievers until we die, for we remain sinners until we die. There’s nothing anyone can add to the gospel that can give us more rescue than the gospel alone does. Jesus plus nothing equals everything, everything minus Jesus equals nothing.

We never leave the gospel, ever-even as we move into deeper theological waters. As Tim Keller says, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A to Z of Christianity. All theology is an exposition of the gospel, a further articulation of the gospel in all its facets, meticulously unfolding all its liberating implications and empowering benefits.

And on the practical side, all true maturity and further growth in Christian living is simply the appropriation of the gospel and its benefits in daily life.

And those blessings truly amount to everything- to an extent beyond our imagining.

Everything in our lives as Christians, followers of Christ, begins and ends with the gospel. We are who we are today because of the Gospel and because of the Gospel, when we get to heaven, we will be who we will be. It really is good news. I hope it encourages you today.