Ever since I read, Accidental Missionary by Steve Murrell, I’ve determined to make discipleship the clear focus of our ministry here in Portugal. For the last several months I’ve been saying over and over to our church that we need to make disciples who also want to make other disciples.
Church growth strategies make me nauseous. A program based church model is like trying to throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Pretty soon you get tired of throwing and other people get tired of trying stuff that’s stuck to the wall.
So, instead of just doing church like we’ve been doing it for so long, why don’t we stop and instead try to do what Jesus did? Why don’t we focus on doing what He told us to do? That would make total sense. Amongst His last words to the eleven remaining disciples before his ascension was the command to go and make disciples, in Matthew 28:19, 20 he says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you….”
What the Lord meant in telling us to go and teach, was for us to go and make disciples. In our Portuguese Bible it says exactly that, translated: Go, make disciples.
Be honest. Whether your a pastor, Sunday School teacher, new believer or none of the above, chances are that your major focus is not discipleship. You’re probably not meeting with someone on a weekly basis (outside of the formal meetings at the church building) so that they can be strengthened in their walk the Lord while they are growing toward a healthy, mature relationship with Christ. Sadly, you may not be teaching someone to cultivate that relationship with Jesus because no one ever took the time to teach you or compel you to do the same with someone else.
That’s why you really need to get your hands on a copy of Dr. Robby Gallaty’s new book, Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples. As a pastor who has discipled believers on and off for more than a decade, I’ve often considered how I could more effectively disciple both new converts as well as others who simply want to grow in their walk with the Lord.
Honestly, while I’ve discipled people for years, I’ve never felt like I’ve done the best job that I could. I’ve always questioned whether or not I was really making the most out of the opportunities that I was given.
Growing Up answered some of those key questions that I had. Questions like what’s the better method of discipleship, 1-on-1 or together in a group of 3-4? Gallaty has an answer. A biblical one. Have you ever wondered what’s the best length of time to mentor someone? Or, have you ever had problems with a new convert not following through with a commitment to be mentored?
I did, and Gallaty answered them for me.
However, maybe the most refreshing point about a very refreshing book was the length that the author goes to emphasize that discipleship is not easy, nor should it be entered into lightly. Making disciples is a time intensive process. Gallaty says it better than anyone I’ve heard in a long time: “…you can’t microwave disciples.”
Discipled by David Platt as well as other like-minded men of faith, he conveys a clear understanding of the importance of moulding true followers of Jesus in the opening chapters and then moves to a set of distinct, logical steps that, if followed, provide a perfect blueprint for anyone that wants to train future leaders.
He is engaging, convicting and at times courageous in his writing, placing blame on the shoulders of those who deserve to bear it.
The church has been providing new believers with the wrong fuel for growth, or, in some cases, no fuel at all. The problem is not with the Architect of the church, nor is it with His plan. The problem lies with leaders of His movement—namely, pastors— and their lack of emphasis on discipleship. Bill Hull, a leading author in the area of discipleship, stated, ‘I find it particularly puzzling that we struggle to put disciple-making at the center of ministry even though Jesus left us with the clear imperative to make disciples.’
Every time I review a book, my goal is to be objective and write from a critical viewpoint. I include my opinion on how I believe the book misses the mark or could where it could’ve been better. I tried to find something even slightly negative to say about Growing Up, but I never did. For me, it hit on all cylinders.
Filled with tweetable quotes, sound biblical wisdom, and a definitive plan for making disciples who make other disciples, Growing Up may very well become the standard for churches who truly want to fulfill the Great Commission the way Jesus intended.
Published by Crossbooks, a division of Lifeway, it’s available for pre-order now.
Thank you, Pastor Gallaty for providing me a free copy in exchange for this review. By doing so, you’ve motivated us even more to be disciples who make disciples.