If you’re among those trying to build a discipling ministry at your church, I’d recommend Glenn McDonald’s , The Disciple Making Church (Faithwalk Publishing, 2007). Christianity Today calls it “an excellent resource for pastors and congregations seeking to reclaim formation and discipleship as central to their life and purpose.” Reclaim? That word really sticks out. Why would churches need to “reclaim” the very thing that should always drive their identity and purpose? McDonald answers this question with a poignant testimony of losing focus in his own ministry. He also points to the way many churches get bogged down in programs and too much emphasis on the ABC’s (attendance, buildings and cash). He suggests the need for getting back to the relational way of ministry practiced by Jesus and the early church.
Spiritual vitality and transformation often hit roadblocks because we focus on the wrong issues. That said, McDonald poses this question: “What would our churches look like if, more than anything, we valued a particular set of redemptive relationships?” He writes, “A disciple is someone who can answer, with ever growing conviction and understanding, the following six questions:”
Who is your Lord? When everything is said and done, whose agenda are you truly following?
Who are you? At the beginning of each day, do you wake up knowing that you’ll have to go out and win your own share of security and significance, or can you truly say that those are priceless gifts you have already received?
Who is your Barnabas? Who is your spiritual mentor, the one from whom you are learning to follow Jesus?
Who is your Timothy? Who is your apprentice, the one to whom you are passing along the lessons that God has entrusted to you?
Where is your Antioch? What small cadre of special friends is helping you to discern God’s direction for your life?
Where is your Macedonia? What field of ministry is most closely aligned with God’s call on your life and hauntingly stirs your deepest passion?
McDonald says, “As we wrestle with these questions and seek God’s answers to them, teaching others to do the same, our congregations will become different kinds of places. They will be healthier places. We will begin to measure success according to a different yardstick. We will surrender our futile quest to discover the one-size-fits-all program and grasp that God is powerfully and quietly at work within the mystery of discipling relationships.”
It’s hard to argue with the author’s conclusions. The book provides a practical framework for getting on track with discipleship and disciple making. I particularly recommend it for those who are either involved with or support The Timothy Network. The book’s main concepts closely parallel the mission we are trying to accomplish.