DISCIPLING: “How to help others follow Jesus” is a book written by Mark Dever PhD. He serves as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and president of 9marks. He has authored many books, including the best–selling “Nine Marks of a Healthy”. Church, and speaks at conferences worldwide.
The goal of this book is to help us understand biblical discipling and to encourage us in our obedience to Christ. Biblical discipling is helping others follow Jesus by doing deliberate spiritual good to them. This largely occurs in and through the local church. It’s easy for many Christians today to miss this.
This is a short, clear, and wonderfully practical book on discipling. The book breaks up neatly into three parts. Firstly, the author asks “what is discipling?” here the biblical teaching is developed and applied, showing that its heart is being oriented towards others. In the Second part, he establishes the context “where should we disciple”? He mentions that the local church should be a hub or rather the place for discipleship. He actually provides some helpful ideas for developing leaders and cultivating a discipling culture. The final part consists of four chapters that answer the question “How should we disciple?” Dever ends with a conclusion and an appendix that lists recommended books to use for discipling others besides using the Bible.
He helps us see what discipling ought to be, and how to personally put that into practice.
The book has so many helpful contents, including a working definition of discipling which is defined as “helping others to love and follow Jesus” (p13). Discipling is further defined as deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ (13). This is helpful since sometimes we as believers can be intimidated by the “making disciples” phrase, but when broken down and defined as the author does, suddenly it seems possible through God’s grace. Further, Dever describes discipleship as “our own following of Christ” (13). Later in chapter three, he gives a more technical and still essential definition of discipling as “a relationship in which you teach, correct, model and love someone to love Jesus better”(p36). He also describes it as, “doing life together with other people as you journey toward Christ” (p86).
His discipleship discussion in the church is also insightful. He mentions that, “If it is unwise to do discipleship without a church, it is worse to do church without discipleship” (p52). As one continues reading the book, it gets more practical in chapter seven for instance; there is a discussion about factors involved in deciding who to invest time in for the purpose of discipleship. The author also describes that our weaknesses are part of the discipling process, he mentions that; you can have gospel influence, and amazingly, make a gospel impact in people’s lives, but that does not come only through your strengths, but also through your weakness”. God does this so that his power can be displayed through our weakness and he would receive all the glory (2 cor. 12:9) p26. Dever continues with this point on page 36 that, “we should keep in mind that discipling among gospel-believers doesn’t mean you as the discipler always play the wise one, or that you must be a fount of Socrates-like wisdom with all the answers. Discipling in the gospel means that sometimes you lead the way in confessing weakness or sin (p36)”.
The conclusion by Jonathan Leeman also flows smoothly as the rest of the book. The practicality of the book is encouraging; it certainly gives one steps to walk in as you implement discipleship in your own life.
I would recommend this book to a Christian who; is a member of a local church, wants to look for deeper relationships, may be nervous of the term “disciple”, and who is questioning why the local church is important?
Article written by Tracy Ndlovu