I remember years ago preparing to teach a Sunday school class on discipleship. As I attempted to gather resources together, I found the cupboard was surprisingly bare. As integral as discipleship is to the local church I am glad to see a renewed emphasis in local churches and by publishers to fill up the cupboard with helpful resources on this topic.
One such book is Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus by Mark Dever. This book is relatively small in size and short in length; however, it is not lacking in utility. Dever is by most accounts a rare guy; he is very bright, extremely gifted, and has been used by God to make a tremendous impact for the gospel. The challenge for us in reading a book on discipleship from Mark Dever is to think, “Well, I’m not superman like Dever.”
Not so fast. Dever contends (rightly) that discipling is ordinary Christianity. It is what we are all called to be (disciples) and do (disciple others).
The goal of this book is to help you understand biblical discipling and to encourage you in your obedience to Christ. Biblical discipling, as I said, is helping others to follow Jesus by doing deliberate spiritual good to them. And biblical discipling largely occurs in and through churches. It’s easy for Christians today to miss this.
The definition he provides for discipleship is “helping others to follow Jesus by doing deliberate spiritual good to them.” Here we are given a narrow focus with a broad opportunity. There are lots of possible expressions of discipleship. A stay-at-home mom has different opportunities than a college student. A deployed serviceman may do things that a nursing student does not. The issue is not so much the prescribed “how” but the “what.” We as Christians are called to be a discipling people. Citing the Great Commission Dever, says, “If you say you are following Jesus but are not helping others to know and follow Jesus then I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘I follow Jesus.’”
The book breaks up neatly into three parts. In the first, Dever asks “What is discipling?” Here the biblical teaching is developed and applied, showing its heart of being orientated to others. In the second, the context is established: “Where should we disciple?” Dever contends for the local church to be a hub for discipleship. He provides some helpful ideas for developing leaders and cultivating a culture of discipleship. In the final section the question of how is answered. This is often the sticking point: “Whom do I talk to? What do I do? What if it’s not working?” All of these questions are important to work through, and Dever does a good job in a short space.
I really enjoyed the book. I have given alway several copies already. I do hope this little book gets a wide reading and has a big impact.