The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and the Future of Discipleship
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B&H Books / 2008 / Hardcover

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The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and the Future of Discipleship

B&H Books / 2008 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW448240

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Product Description

When seekers meet churchgoers, do they see people who think and act like true followers of Christ? Based on his survey of 2,500 Protestants, Waggoner says probably not. Calling all Christians to true discipleship, he challenges leaders to teach believers how to obey God, deny self, share their faith, build relationships, seek God wholeheartedly, and more.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: B&H Books
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 9 X 6 X 0.97 (inches)
ISBN: 0805448241
ISBN-13: 9780805448245

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Publisher's Description

Various studies suggest Christians in North America are not qualitatively different in their character and practices than non-believers. While some churches are growing numerically, many wonder to what impact. Can we determine if our churches are producing Christians who look, think and act like true followers of Jesus Christ?

In The Shape of Faith to Come, research expert Brad J. Waggoner and his team measure the beliefs and actions of 2,500 active Protestant churchgoers from across the country against seven key standards of Biblical spiritual formation:
  • Learning the truth
  • Obeying God and denying self
  • Sharing faith
  • Serving God and others
  • Exercising Biblical faith
  • Building solid relationships
  • Seeking God
The findings reveal the current state and forecast of spiritual formation in the U.S.A. Adding encouragement to his insights, Waggoner calls all Christians to spiritual maturity and challenges church leaders to intentionally take up the mantle of making true disciples.


"Descriptive and prescriptive, this work will be seen as one of the best books ever written on what is really taking place in the discipleship process of Christians."
Thom S. Rainer, coauthor of the #1 best seller Simple Church

"The elephant in the room of evangelicalism is the surprising lack of discipled believers in all different kinds of churches. We have produced a cafeteria Christianity rather than a robust orthodoxy and Jesus-shaped spirituality. In this challenging and disturbing book, Brad Waggoner draws on twenty years of research in discipleship and spiritual formation to not just show us who we are, but to point us to what we must do. The Shape of Faith to Come will become a milestone as evangelicals begin to take discipleship seriously once again."
Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and Churches that Reach Them

"This book comes closer than any study with which I’m familiar to providing an insightful and objective evaluation of the spiritual condition of the church in America. Where is the church weak, and where is she strong? Some of the answers indicated by The Shape of Faith to Come may surprise you."
Donald S. Whitney, author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Author Bio

Brad J. Waggoner is vice president of Research and Ministry Development for LifeWay Christian Resources. Previously dean of the School of Leadership & Church Ministry at Southern Seminary, he holds a Master of Arts degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Master of Religious Education degree and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Waggoner and his wife have two sons and live in Nashville, Tennessee.


If you are looking for an encouraging read for the holiday season, The Shape of Faith to Come by Brad Waggoner is not it. However, if you are looking for a book that adequately diagnoses the current state of the church and the individual members of your church, this is a must read. Waggoner and the folks over at LifeWay Research interviewed 2500 people who attend church at least once a month and asked them a wide range of questions to get some bearing on their spiritual maturity. Many of the findings may shock you. For instance, Waggoner and his team found that across the wide spectrum, a full 42 percent of those surveyed could not “agree strongly” with the statement “Eternal salvation is possible through God’s grace alone; nothing we do can earn salvation.” Even among Southern Baptists in particular, only 75% could affirm the above statement. In what is an even more frightening number, only 32% of the respondents strongly agreed that salvation is exclusive to Jesus alone. Southern Baptists were not much better with only 46% of SBC respondents affirming an exclusive view of salvation.

From the hard truths, the research team waited a full year and re-surveyed the original group to compare their growth over the course of a year. The last part of the book represents the findings in this area, and some were surprising.

Not surprising was the following conclusion by Waggoner and his group: Statistically, the number one issue correlated to higher maturity scores was the discipline of daily Bible reading. Being consistent in this discipline can be challenging, but it is doable. Waggoner concludes with a clarion call to pastors to be intentional and responsible in their ministries, Intentionality means that various people will have very specific responsibility for different aspects of the disciple-making strategy. Ultimately it is the pastor’s responsibility to make sure that intentions get executed.

If you are interested in the current state of the church, this is a must read for you. You will not enjoy this book, but you will find it beneficial to your ministry. As Jim Collins says, at some point we must face the “brutal facts.” - Craig Thompson, Senior Pastor, Malvern Hill Baptist Church

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