Book Review: Discipling As Jesus Discipled

Discipling As Jesus Discipled:  7 Disciplines Of A Disciplemaker:  John 17, by Dann Spader

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As I was reading this book, I was struck by how unfortunate it was that I was reading this book by myself.  This book is among those books about evangelism [1] that is more of a workbook than an ordinary book, and that seems to assume that the reader is doing a lot of writing on their own as well as working with a disciplemaker.  The language is filled with what I take to be evangelical jargon, as words relating to evangelism and preaching are replaced with more modish expressions like discipling and circles of concern.  I would have greatly preferred the book had it come with the author’s genuine heart for preaching the Gospel as he understands it rather than feeling like it was concocted as some sort of church planting or church growth strategy by the author and his church.  While the author presents the need for making disciples to be relational–there we go with modish expressions again–the book itself feels somehow strategic and tactical in nature, and it is at least a little bit off-putting.

The book is organized as a ten-week lesson plan, five days a week, where the person helping to bring someone to Christ works with a new believer and guides them through parts of the New Testament in order to encourage a decision to believe.  There is a separate leader’s guide, and this material is designed to be utilized by the new believer, with a lot of space for writing contrasts between grace and truth, to give one example.  After beginning with two chapters about how personal evangelism must be both relational as well as intentional, the next seven chapters show 7 disciplines of a disciplemaker that are taken from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:  revealing, speaking (what God tells us), praying, protecting, being sent, sanctifying, and sharing.  After that the book closes with a discussion of missional focus of the disciples as being fishers of men, showing how it is different to disciple pre-Christians, new believers, and committed workers, encouraging the reader that they can do it.  As a whole the book is between 150 and 200 pages, much of which consists of space for the reader to write down answers to the questions that the author asks.

In reading this book I was struck by the fact that a great deal of my own ambivalence about it was related to the way that the book adopted an approach that was full of contemporary jargon as a way of putting the Bible into contemporary speech.  Unfortunately, the contemporary speech that the author adopts is the vacuous expressions that are common among consultants and authors of lame books on evangelism.  Words like missional and relational are the sort of vocabulary adopted by people who are working strategically while trying to appear as if they are deeply concerned with others.  If you really want to show you care, don’t say that you are relational but instead build a relationship with others.  Don’t say that you are missional, but rather act like a godly and encouraging missionary.  There is in this book a strong tension between the fact that the author is trying to encourage a specific approach to helping guide people into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and with other brethren while trying to make it appear as if it was an altruistic matter that was not related to the author’s own self-aggrandizement, a tension made all the more severe by how often the author talks about the last book he wrote, something about 4 chairs.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to Book Review: Discipling As Jesus Discipled

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