Tuesday Morning Book Review || Discipleshift

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples (kindle version) by Jim Putnam, Bobby Harrington, & Robert Coleman.

As you can tell from the title, this book is about discipleship and how a church creates a system where discipleship can happen. If a church is to accomplish this goal, and according to Matthew 28, it is why the church exists. The authors form this as the basis of the book: “The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”

But, what is a disciple? A disciple is a person who:

  1. is following Christ (head);
  2. is being changed by Christ (heart);
  3. is committed to the mission of Christ (hands).

For Revolution, this book lays out what our hope and goal as a church is: to make disciples who make disciples. A lot of what the authors lay out has been a part of the transition we have made over the last 2 years. For me, it was helpful to be reminded of where we have come from and get some new ideas about where we are going and how best to get there.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • One problem today is that churches are full of “Christians” but not disciples, and yes, there is a significant difference.
  • The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples. Disciples are not merely converts but also doers, learners, students, Christ followers or better yet, “apprentices of Jesus.”
  • If anyone serves Jesus, he must follow Jesus.
  • Most Christians have divorced the teachings of Jesus from the methods of Jesus, and yet they expect the results of Jesus.
  • Jesus got far more accomplished through twelve committed guys than he did with any of the large crowds he attracted.
  • A disciple grows in 4 main areas of life: his relationship with God, his relationship God’s family; the church, his home life, and his relationship to the world.
  • Proximity is essential to the learning process.
  • We present small group time as an intentional gathering led by a spiritually mature person who understands that his or her job is to help people grows as disciples of Jesus.
  • Three necessary components to the disciple-making process: the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God.
  • Small groups are biblical relational environments.
  • We cannot separate relationships from the disciple-making process.

Everyone Finds Jesus Differently

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While all Christians realize the title of this blog post is true, we often forget it. Many times, we fall into the trap that says: What rescued me, what impacted me to start following Jesus will work for everyone.

Many times, this is what is underneath our passion for more modern music, deeper preaching, life on life discipleship, a women’s ministry, a men’s ministry, a singles ministry. You name it. Whatever ministry God used to save you, we often think, “If everyone experiences that, they’ll be saved.”

The reality is that everyone starts following Jesus differently.

This came up in the passage I just preached on in John 9 this past Sunday at Revolution. You can listen to it here if you haven’t already.

The Pharisees are having a hard time with Jesus healing the man born blind on the Sabbath because they don’t do it that way. They don’t think God works that way, they’ve never seen it done before (vs. 32), or they weren’t saved that way.

I’ve had this conversation so many times I’ve lost count (and every pastor can relate). It goes like this, “Pastor Josh, we need to start a __________ ministry to reach ___________. If we do, Revolution will explode.” Or, “Josh, if we just get every man to do __________” or, “If we get every woman/student/single to do ____________ they’re life will be changed.” Or, “Josh if you preached more topical sermons, more deeper sermons, longer sermons, shorter sermons more people would get saved.” Or, “Josh, if we did faster songs, slower songs, more responsive readings, more hymns, more modern songs, if it was louder, if it was quieter, people would worship more than they do.”

Now, I’m not saying those things won’t change their lives, but we show a lot of immaturity if we think God only saves people the way we were saved or the ministry we are passionate about.

The Five Stages of Discipleship

This diagram was found in Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples by Jim Putnam.

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Here are some ways to know where people in your church or people you are discipling are in the process by what they say or how they live:

Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1 – 5):

  • I don’t believe there’s a God.
  • The bible is just a bunch of myths.
  • Religion is a crutch for the weak.
  • Christians are just intolerant and homophobic people.
  • There are many ways a person can get to God.
  • I don’t believe in hell.
  • I’ve been a good person, so when I die, everything will be okay.
  • There is not absolute right or wrong.

Infant (1 Peter 2:2 – 3):

  • I need to go to church regularly? I’ve never heard that before.
  • I need to pray and regularly read my Bible? I don’t know how.
  • I didn’t know the Bible said that.
  • Tithing? What’s that?
  • I don’t need anyone else. It’s just me and Jesus.
  • I need someone to regularly care for me.
  • I know Jesus is God, but isn’t karma real too?
  • I just got baptized, but still have problems in my life. I thought Jesus was supposed to take care of all my problems.

Children (1 John 2:12):

  • I don’t know if this church is meeting my needs anymore.
  • Don’t branch my missional community into two. We won’t get to be with our friends.
  • Who are all the new people coming into our church? The church is getting too big.
  • Why we have to learn new songs?
  • I didn’t like the music today.
  • No one ever says hi to me at church. No one ever calls me to see how I’m doing. No one spends time with me.
  • My missional community is not taking care of my needs like they should.
  • I wasn’t fed at all by that sermon today.
  • Why don’t we have a ministry for ____________ (women, men, singles, senior adults, divorced, widowed).
  • I’d serve, but no one has asked me.

Young Adult (1 John 2:13 – 14):

  • In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
  • I really want to go to Uganda on a mission trip this summer.
  • I love serving. I can see how God has gifted me and is using me.
  • I have 3 friends I’ve been witnessing to, and our missional community is too big for them, can we start a new one?
  • Someone missed our missional community, so I called them to see if they were okay.
  • Look at how many are at church today – it’s awesome.

Parent (2 Timothy 2:1 – 2):

  • I wonder if God is leading me to invest in Bill and help him mature in his faith.
  • I want to help this guy at work. He asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me as I spend time in the Word with him.
  • We get to baptize someone in our missional community today.
  • Our missional community is going on a mission trip. I am praying for God’s wisdom as I give each person a different responsibility to help them grow.
  • The most important discipleship is with my children.
  • I want to be conscious of the influence of my words and actions around others.
  • There is someone in my missional community I’ve been disciplining who is ready to lead their own missional community.

The amazing thing in the list is how many people in most churches are not anywhere close to mature.

Jesus is about Disciples, not Converts

The problem [with the American church] is that, at the end of the day, the only thing that Jesus is counting is disciples. That’s it. He doesn’t seem to care too much about converts, attendance, budgets, or buildings. It’s about disciples. And, by nature, disciples are producers, not consumers. –Mike BreenMultiplying Missional Leaders

Do you agree? Disagree? Why?