Our making of disciples flows out of our life with God, to be certain. Yet in some ways, the order needs to be inverted as well: Only as we make disciples are we perfected in the faith. As we reach out, we are shaped and transformed. As we go about life, the mission of Jesus is to recognize the people in sphere of influence and help them take the next steps toward God. Engaging in that mission results in not only an increased quality of relationships, but a changed life for us as well.
This “inversion” struck me from the outset, and it’s critical to what this book is all about. We are not only called to make disciples, but as we make disciples we become more complete disciples ourselves. That’s just one of the “differences” this book highlights.
Robert E. Logan and Charles R. Ridley. The Discipleship Difference: Making Disciples While Growing as Disciples. 224p., $14.99, Logan Leadership.
(Disclaimer alert: I’m not just a fan; I’m also editor for this book. But as mentioned before, I was a fan of Bob Logan’s writing and ministry years before I was his editor. Thus, I went in with a positive bias. :))
Two other main points Bob makes throughout the book: 1) One size doesn’t fit all—Jesus changed His approach with every person He encountered, and so should we; 2) We are not just meant to be disciples making disciples—we are disciples making disciples who make disciples. If people are sitting at our feet instead of moving on to help others sit at Jesus’ feet, we’ve missed something huge.
This holistic approach to discipleship is woven throughout the book, which is also borne out by the branches of the “discipleship tree” examined here:
- Experiencing God
- Spiritual Responsiveness
- Sacrifical Service
- Generous Living
- Personal Transformation
- Authentic Relationships
- Community Transformation
Another huge point is that discipleship is not reserved for believer—it starts “in the harvest,” with those who haven’t yet turned to Christ. By taking this approach, the result is new believers who already are disciples, rather than having some false dichotomy between belief and some later “higher calling” to discipleship. The two were never meant to be separated, and they’re not here.
The overall format of the book goes between practical advice and a fictional case study (“Rob”), whose course we follow as he implements that advice. It’s a success story (of course), but as opposed to other books I’ve seen that have used this device it’s a realistic story — there are real challenges; everything doesn’t go perfectly; sometime things happen that make no sense at all, at least at first. But when it comes to discipleship, staying the course is more than half the battle, and our travels with “Rob” throughout this book help us to vicariously experience that—with the hope that we’ll experience it for real after putting the book down.
On the other side of the spectrum, Chuck Ridley adds dozens of more academic notes throughout the book “if you care about the research.” Put together, these two facets help maintain a balance throughout the book—not only illustrating how discipleship works, but also showing us proof that it works.
In the later chapters, we’re (re-)introduced to the tools of discipleship. And really, all that needs to be said is that the hardest thing about using these tools is being willing enough to obey and actually use them.
As always, I’ve really enjoyed (and been challenged by) The Discipleship Difference, and am confident it’ll do the same for many others.
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