I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in the last five years, called DiscipleShiftby Putman and Harrington.  It’s been sitting on my “to read” shelf for over a year. I can’t believe I just now picked it up. Anyway, it is worth purchasing and sharing with your staff, and it will help you organize your church discipleship culture.

The first thing that hit me about this book is that it matches the same system structure that we used in our book Effective Staffing for Vital Churches. The words are different but the structure is the same.  Whereas we use the words Invite, Connect, Apprentice, and Send, they use the terms Share, Connect, Train to Minister, and Release to be a Disciple Maker.  One book provides staffing structure, the other book shows how to wrap the entire church around the structure.

Their prime concern is disciples who make disciples. Their premise is that a disciple (they don’t really like the word Christian because it has so much impotent baggage) really isn’t mature in Christ until he or she is released to disciple alone. This is a far cry from membership or attendance, but it still involves the local church. It is missional and institutional. But the scorecard is different: How many people have you released to be a disciple who makes disciples?

They show four shifts the church must make to develop disciples who develop disciples.

  • From Reaching to Making
  • From Informing to Equipping
  • From Program to Purpose
  • From Activity to Relationship
  • From Accumulating to Deploying

As you can see, this isn’t a total attraction model.

The one thing I would have changed in the book is instead of “train to minister,” I would rather see “train to be a backyard missionary.”  But the thrust is the same – the goal of the church isn’t to gather; it is to spread.

I love the way they interpret Jesus’ command to “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”  They drill down on the phrase, “I will make you.”  Those who draw close to Jesus learn to share their faith and become disciple makers because that is what he did and we are his followers.

It’s a great book.  There’s so much more to it, but you have to read it.

Question: Have you read DiscipleShift? Share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section below.