The make part of Jesus command to go and make disciples forms the heart of The Adventure of Discipling Others: Training in the Art of Disciplemaking, co-authored by Ron Bennett and John Purvis. The book targets the problem of spiritual dropouts by encouraging Christians to become intentional disciplers. The authors see the discipleship process as a cycle involving a new believer becoming a disciple, then a discipler of others, which results in more new believers.
Drawing from their combined sixty years of ministry in The Navigators, the authors set up twelve lessons for small groups consisting of believers who want to do a better job of discipling others. Each session, designed to last about two and a half hours, deals with such subjects as vision, prayer, spiritual disciplines, valuing each person, and spiritual multiplication. Fill-in Bible study, Scripture memory, and appropriate articles combine with ministry discussion and prayer for each group meeting. The book compacts the best of teaching from The Navigators, long known for its emphasis on helping believers grow. Both authors have extensive background stateside and overseas in discipling Christians at colleges, in the military and community.
The authors begin with the fear factor (Can I really help someone grow in Christ?) and end with the blessing of seeing spiritual grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The book supports the observation of Jerry Bridges, whose essay on The Spiritual Disciplines points out that the two greatest hindrances to discipleship are self-righteousness and guilt (p. 149). Bennett and Purvis set out to help potential disciplers see their own need to keep growing in Christ and to realize that Gods grace covers their failures.
Ive long respected materials from The Navigators for discipleship training. As a new Christian, I used The Navs Topical Memory System. Later, I helped new Christians work through its 'Growing in Christ' study (one of many resources listed in the books appendices). This book fills a needed gap in encouraging those who want to disciple others, but lack personal depth or practical skills. The lessons length would prevent the book from working as a Sunday school class, but the intimacy built through studying it in a small group will improve transparency and encourage personal change. I appreciated the essays chosen to support session topics, particularly the one by Joni Eareckson Tada on praying scripturally, originally published in Discipleship Journal.
Also enlightening was a character chart on pp. 186-87, which listed positive prayer responses to negative personality traits. If a disciple is impatient, for example, the discipler can thank God for how this can become the positive trait of efficiency. Of the 55 negative traits, however, two (irresponsible and lazy) lacked companion prayer guides. I wonder if this omission will be corrected in a future edition. Despite that glitch, the chart presented a vital reminder that God has created each person in a unique way, and that Christs transforming power is available to all who yield to him. As an encouraging tool in letting God use you to help others know Him with greater joy and power, this book is excellent. -- Jeanne Zornes, Christian Book Previews.com