Christian discipleship can be a pretty broad category. In this list I’m narrowing it down to three main areas: being a disciple, making disciples, and multiplying disciples.
I. On Being A Disciple
Books “on being a disciple” are numerous and can include hundreds of categories. Books on doctrine, spiritual disciplines, and sharing the gospel can all be helpful to new and maturing disciples alike. Of course, making disciples is also an integral part of being a disciple, but for the purpose of this post I’ve included a book on cultivating your faith, lifestyle discipleship, spiritual warfare, serving Jesus with joy, and family discipleship.
I recently ran across Downline Ministries that exists to “equip Christ followers to make disciples”. It looks like they’ve got training resources, books, and articles to help promote making and multiplying disciples. I haven’t really explored their content very deeply but it looks great.
Check out this video for a look at what Downline is all about:
What do you think?
The irony is that I recently wrote a post entitled Disciple Making vs. Downline: Practicing God’s Presence Or Pyramid Scheme. I wrote that post because I had been hearing some negative voices criticizing discipleship as some sort of multi-level marketing pyramid scheme. Those negative critiques spoke disparaging about discipleship as some sort of “downline”. Personally, I don’t care what you call it and if what I do to make disciples (in obedience to God’s will) looks like a pyramid scheme to critics, then so be it.
Most American churches are doing lots of addition, subtraction and division. Few are doing multiplication.
+ It’s easy to settle for addition. At least it is positive growth. Addition is safe. Addition is comfortable. But addition is often the result of a lack of mission and vision. Church leaders get bogged down in caring for the urgent and the existing members are happy because the attention is all on them. Sometimes people move into the area and just naturally look for a church. Put out a sign and we can probably grow through addition.
– However, addition is just a step away from subtraction. People start to withdraw from the church when the church has no purpose. I bet more people leave the church out of boredom than from being asked to step up and pursue the Great Commission.
What does it cost to follow Jesus? Even more important: What will it cost to not follow Jesus? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” If we are going to follow Jesus on the same path that He walked, it will cost us everything. If we want to pursue the mission He has given us, we can’t look back.
Does your small group barely scratch the surface when it comes to building deep relationships and studying God’s Word together?
The following video is a hilarious example of a shallow small group. Too bad it’s often true. I love it when humor is used to expose our inconsistencies. Check it out:
If you are trying to find some training resources for small group leaders rightnowtraining.org might be a good place to start. They are the ones that produced the above video but they also have a lot of training videos that deal with specific topics related to leading small groups. Some of the most influential voices in the small group space are featured in their archives.
Have you used rightnowtraining.org for your small group leader development? Do you have other small group resources that you recommend? Feel free to link to them in the comments. While you’re at it, describe a breakthrough moment when your small group went deeper in your understanding of God and/or one another.
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son…There is trust in God, but no following of Christ. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer