And speaking of 1-on-1 discipleship…. Here’s a resource all you disciplers can utilize to help new Christians begin to more fully understand the Gospel, and to help them begin to more deeply pursue a relationship with Jesus….
Edward Michael Gross. Authentic Discipleship: A Workbook to Help You Follow Jesus Intentionally. 128p., $12.99, New Book Publishing/Reliance Media.
As its subtitle suggests, this is a workbook, but one meant to be worked through together as both disciple and discipler. Ed Gross’ intent here is to provide a groundwork both for discussion and for a deepening faith and understanding of Christ’s work in our lives. The 19 sessions here address both theological and personal issues, and while there’s a decent amount of work to each session, it’s not as overwhelming/”boot-campish” as I’ve seen with a lot of other disciplemaking resources. This workbook covers a lot of ground, but it’s doable rather than discouraging.
The first two units, “A Good Beginning” and “Christ in You,” provide the theological groundwork here, addressing such subjects as grace, the attributes of God, Christ’s work on our behalf, and the Holy Spirit. The final section, “A New Level of Certainty,” deals with the subject of our assurance of salvation, both based on external proofs and on the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.
The third and longest unit—and my favorite, as it’s the rubber-meets-the-road section—helps new disciples understand the importance of personal devotional time and spiritual disciplines, as well as how to confront both the sin and the suffering in their lives. A couple examples from there:
“In [Jesus’] name” isn’t just a signoff, like “Sincerely” or “Yours truly.” It means that you’re asking the Father for what Jesus would ask for if He were in your shoes.
Have you ever seen a knife sharpener…? It works because the grinding wheel is spinning one way, and the knife is facing the other direction…. It’s exactly that way with Christians in this world…. There are sparks that will fly when we come in contact with them. Result: you will become “sharpened,” but it will hurt. And there is suffering…. And this is exactly how Christianity won over the Roman Empire in less than 300 years! They wouldn’t out-fight them, or take up arms against them, but they could out-suffer them. They could out-love them. They could out-forgive them. Then, at the right time, they could out-witness them, and God would win their oppressors. That’s still how God works throughout the world today, and how His loving grace conquers hard hearts.
One subjective quibble: I personally would’ve liked to have seen fewer close-ended questions. However, since this is a workbook for new Christians, a lot of the information here will be brand-new, and thus this issue isn’t as problematic as it would be in a standard small-group resource—i.e., more black-and-white answers can be considered to be more warranted in this context. And the “Disciple-Questions and Assignments” at the end of each session go a long way toward meeting each person where they’re at, and provide a great starting-point for truly experiencing the Christian life.
Got a new believer and don’t know where to go next? Now you’ve got a resource to get you there.