A Book Review by Ron Aguilera
The church in North America is in trouble. There is a decline is attendance, interest, passion, giving, spiritual maturity, outreach, evangelism…You’ve seen it. Church leaders are constantly looking for and trying new models for reaching the people “who God misses the most” AND growing them in Jesus.
The authors of this book start by describing some of the models used today to draw and grow people – attractional, missional, or educational models – and argue that in spite of trying different models, there is still something missing in the church: Discipleship.
The authors begin by asking the question “What is the God-given purpose of the church?” They then make the argument, through the use of recent surveys, that the church is not accomplishing its purpose, and stress that we need to make a fundamental shift in the way we do church. Making disciples is the mandate of the church. Too often churches focus on making converts, not making disciples.
This book is the best book I have ever read on the practice and process of making disciples. It clearly outlines a disciple making system that can be implemented in the local church.
The authors start by defining a “disciple”. They point out that a major problem among churches is the lack of a clearly defined AND agreed upon understanding of what a disciple is. A disciple, says Putman and Harrington, is built around three key attributes: Following Christ (head), being changed by Christ (heart), committed to the mission of Christ (hands). This definition informs the rest of their work, and is the foundation of the disciple making system they unfold in the rest of the book.
The best chapter for me was the one that defined and dissected pastoral ministry in our contemporary Christian context, focusing on the reality that many pastors today have poor relational skills, over-programmed ministries, and a professional ministerial mindset, which prevents them from leading the church to accomplish its mission.
The authors stress that Pastors are not THE ministers, they are equippers. Chapters five and six are so helpful in arguing and proving this point. Great chapter. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
I highly recommend Discipleshift. It is a fantastic tool to share with pastors and lay leaders who are looking to refocus on the mission Jesus left for us, and for a practical disciple making system for the church.
Ron Aguilera is executive secretary/vice president for the Illinois Conference