Van Til Tool

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HOW ARE DISCIPLES MADE ???

HOW ARE DISCIPLES MADE ??

By Forrest Wayne Schultz


A Review of Ken Adams Conversations About Disciple Making (Newnan, GA: Jawbone Pub., 2008)
ISBN 1-59094-163-2 186 pp


Although there have been many books written and sermons preached about the qualities which characterize the disciples of Jesus Christ and about how prayer and Scripture and involvement in church can be of assistance in attaining these qualities, there are nonetheless large numbers of men and women who have been christians for a long time who have failed to attain these qualities, even among those who have made serious attempts to do so. The book under review here diagnoses this problem as due to an omission in our disciple-making methodology. Actually, that is putting it mildly: modern christianity has missed the main feature in the disciple making process so that at present there are few real disciples in our churches at all.

The Biblical disciple-making methodology, as the author rightly points out, is disciples reproducing themselves by training new (and other immature) christians to become disciples by means of small groups formed for that purpose. After his trainees have become disciples themselves, then each of them is responsible for forming his own group composed of new christians needing training. To get some idea of what this would mean, one really needs to read the book, but let me just say here that the focus is on the commitment of the trainer to do the training and the commitment of the trainees to receive the training by willingly becoming accountable to the trainer by admitting mistakes and sins and by being willing to accept instruction and correction. And the trainee becomes accountable to the trainer for using prayer and Scripture and appropriate living to attain the christlike qualities the training is working to produce. The trainee needs to be willing to accept this discipline just as an athlete must be willing to accept the training thru which he is put by his coach. And the trainer must be sure that he is not just doing things to keep the trainees busy; these things must produce the results of making the trainee into a disciple. That is the gist of the idea -- and a good one it is!!

The author talks at several points about integrating this discliple-making into the life of the church, and that is very essential. Along those lines it would be helpful to recover the early church's concept of an elder, meaning a spiritually mature and theologically mature christian. This means that the elders are all those in the church who are disciples in the true sense of the word and who are capable, therefore, of training the immature in these small discipleship training groups and should be doing so. Consequently, this means that the elders in the New Testament sense of the word, who should be the ones running the church, and the trainers running the disciple-making groups are the same people. An elder is NOT someone elected to an office. He either has the qualities of an elder or he doesn't, If he has them, then he IS and elder, so that "ordination" is merely the people perceiving a reality in his life. Now in any church which understands and obeys these concepts of eldership and discipleship, there will be no conflict between the two. Each individual elder should be training and overseeing his particular disciple trainees. And the elders as a ruling board should be overseeing and training the church corporately (i.e. as a whole). This is one thing which the author does not mention, and it is the key to the success of reviving both the church and the christian life in harmony with each other.
Adams' book is well-written and easy to read and is very relevant. The material is arranged into ninety "conversations", each comprising about two pages. The appendix consists of three pages of resource materials to be used in discipleship courses. They are available through the discipleship program Adams has established and directs called Impact Ministries, information on which is available on its website www.impactdiscipleship.com or by calling 678-854-9322. Adams also provides a bibliography of recommended books but it is found in the text (on pages 142-143), not at the end of the book. (In that chapter he is encouraging the leaders to be readers!)

Ken Adams has been the Pastor of Crossroads Church near Newnan for over twenty years. He and his wife Val and their three children live in Sharpsburg. Newnan and Sharpsburg are cities in Coweta County, Georgia which is about an hour south of Atlanta on Interstate 85.


Forrest Wayne Schultz is the head of the Coweta Writers Group, the author of the Coweta Arts Tidbits news releasescovering the burgeoning Coweta scene, and the compiler of the Report on Coweta Authors of Recently Published Books. He resides in Grantville, a city in the extreme south of Coweta County. He has degrees in engineering and theology.

2 Comments:

  • At Monday, February 09, 2009, Anonymous Brian Mericle said…

    I like you review and I look into getting the book as I think this discipleship is a major problem in contemporary churches. What is the publisher's church affiliation Forrest and are there other books that you recommend for elders and discipleship?

     
  • At Monday, February 09, 2009, Blogger Forrest Schultz said…

    As I said at the outset of the review, the subject of the book is the MAKING of disciples, not the qualities a person has after he becomes disciple -- there are plenty of books on these qualities but almost no books on how they are developed, i.e. on how disciples are made.

    In re elders it may surprise you to learn that the clearest statement of what an elder really is that I know of was made by the famous historian Gibbon in his Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire classic in the discussion of the five qualities the early church had which caused them to triumph. One of these qualities was that the churches then were led by (spiritually and theologically) mature men. The term elder referred to what they WERE. The term bishop referred to what they DID , namely had oversight. Very simple -- the church was ruled by its mature men.The elders and the bishops were the same people -- elder meant what they were and bishop meant wha they did. Now this is so obvious -- the church obviously should be led by its mature men. Afterward all kinds of confusion was introduced which ended up making a distinction between the two terms. You see, just as the later church departed from the true meaning of orthodoxy and canon, it also departed from the true meaning of elder and bishop.

    The Jawbone Publishing Co, is owned by a Christian woman named Swanee Ballman. I did not know her until she moved to Coweta County a little over a year ago. I do not know what church she attends.

    Forrest

     

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