A book summary of: “Deep Discipleship: How the Church Can Make Whole Disciples of Jesus”
Discipleship is an area I have emphasized throughout my ministry and when I saw this book in a fall 2020 issue of Christianity Today, I ordered a copy and read it over the holidays. Some of the main points in each chapter of the book are listed below:
- Discipleship is not just a program but a total reorientation to reality. There are two main challenges to deep discipleship: self-centered discipleship and spiritual apathy. (A God-Centered Vision, Ch. 1)
- The church is called to make disciples, and it is time for us to stop delegating our responsibility. Other organizations can come along side the church, but they can never replace the church. (The Church, Ch. 2)
- Community is indispensable to discipleship, but community is not discipleship. We cannot be disciples of Christ outside the context of community. However, we can be in community that is not teaching us to be disciples of Christ. (Space, Ch. 3)
- Instead of asking the question, “What do disciples want?”, we need to ask the better question, “What do disciples need?” (Scope, Ch. 4)
- If the local church is not calling people to press forward, to grow, to strain ahead, we will lose them. One of the paradigm shifts we need in ministry is the shift from asking the question, “How do we keep disciples in the church?” to the better question, “How do disciples grow in the church?” (Sequence, Ch. 5)
- Churches that are pursing a culture of deep discipleship are intentionally commissioning their disciples into the church, the home, their neighborhoods, the workplace, and the nations. (Send, Ch. 6)
- We will never make deep disciples if we apologize when we ask people to make commitments. (Strategy, Ch. 7)
Initially, I was somewhat skeptical of the first two words of the title, “Deep Discipleship,” because of people wanting to “go deep into discipleship,” and neglecting other areas of the Christian life such as evangelism, worship, service, ministry, etc. However, after reading the book I felt English clearly made the point that discipleship encompasses all the spiritual disciplines and that obedience to God’s Word is the true test of maturity.
The author also emphasized the importance Sunday School/Bible study classes for everyone, Bible studies for men only and women only, and in particular contextualizing a discipleship program for the church with specific goals and initiatives (Space, Scope, Sequence, Send, and Strategy).