The Disciple Making Church

Having recently written Making Kingdom Disciples, A New Framework, where I deal with the missing, transforming elements of disciple making, I’ve been especially interested in books on discipleship. I’ve read some good ones and not so good ones. I like this book. I think it deserves reading by anyone interested in making disciples. George Barna has written, “The Christian Church in America is comprised of many converts, but shockingly few disciples. Less than 1% of all believers perceived a connection between their efforts to worship God and their development as a disciple of Jesus.”

Glenn McDonald pastors a church in Indiana, which was named one of the 300 excellent Protestant congregations in America. His focus, like ours, is transformation. He deals with this in two ways: first, through discipling relationships and second, by the six marks of a disciple. They are “a heart for Christ alone, a mind transformed by the Word, Arms of love, knees for prayer, a voice to speak the good news, and a spirit of servanthood and stewardship.” McDonald definitely moves us in the right direction because he is not concerned with constructing a list of things to do during the week but that we become transformed people.

The author confesses, “It took crises in my personal and public worlds to convince me that the call to make disciples is not a clergy-dependent exercise. First, I had to reject the assumption-all too common in the mind of the program-oriented church leader-that if I should step back from my manic pace of life, the kingdom of God would be just one day away from collapse.” From there, McDonald developed the idea of moving away from the ABC churches that focus on attendance, building, and cash. He’s speaking of churches that emphasize programs rather than relationships. Churches tend to measure the wrong things in discipleship because they look at structure rather than relationships that transform.

The book actually deals with how to move from a program driven church to a disciple-making one where true biblical discipleship can be done. He also demonstrates how churches in the ABC mode are often the churches that are in a survival mode rather than growing vibrant churches. A church involved in transforming discipleship will focus on the sovereignty of God and the lordship of Christ. That’s the key to effective disciple making.

Each chapter concludes with questions for discussion as well as ideas on how to get started with the process. He gives the church a fivefold challenge: Stay centered through prayer and discernment, embrace discipleship as a singular focus, shift from a strategy of programs to a strategy of relationships, emphasize the marks of a disciple instead of behaviors, and cultivate a culture of personal discipline. Read this along with Making Kingdom Disciples with the prayer that God will enable you to be kingdom builders.

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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