I don’t believe there is any book besides the Bible that has influenced me more on the topic of discipleship than “Real Life Discipleship” written by Jim Putman. The question on the back cover of this book grabbed my attention even before I had opened it up. The question, “Is your church making disciples…who make disciples…who make disciples?” spoke to what my own vision, mission and goal in ministry is. Once I opened the book up I wasn’t able to put it down as the author led me into his world of disciple making.
The book is divided up into three parts, 1) Setting the Stage for Discipleship, 2) Mastering the Discipleship Process, 3) Letting Disciples Emerge as Leaders and has a total of 15 chapters. The author writes of the beginning of his church Real Life Ministries which began when two couples met in one of their homes and began to pray that God would work in and through them to bring a disciple-making church to a sparsely populated area in Northern Idaho. This little group loved the Lord and longed for something more than the church experiences of the past. Today this church has grown to 8,500 strong and many in this church are not just sitting on church pews but are engaged in making disciples.
The author continues to challenge readers to embrace the discipleship process Jesus modeled in His plan to reach the world and that it is the job of every believer to make disciples. In John 17:3-4, Jesus made the claim that His work was finished even though He had not yet gone to the cross. As believers we know that Jesus’s primary purpose for coming to this earth was to pay for the sins of all who would accept His grace through faith. The cross is clearly central to Jesus’s mission, so why did Jesus say that he completed something before going to the cross. The author writes that he believes Jesus was referring to the training of His twelve disciples.
Too often Christians focus rightly on the gospel message of the cross but forget about the discipleship process Jesus revealed and modeled. If Jesus had not trained disciples who could in turn train others, the gospel message would have been lost. No one would have heard about it after the disciples were dead. The author writes about the 5 different stages of spiritual growth beginning with spiritually dead, spiritual infant, spiritual child, spiritual young adult and spiritual parent. He writes of the different characteristics of each stage, their typical beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and also what the spiritual needs are of each one of the stages. You can find a chart with this information on it in the appendix portion of his book.
This book has helped shape my view of discipleship and how I approach it daily. I have barely scraped the surface of this great book as the author writes about being intentional, relational, and strategic in making disciples. He challenges believers to share their faith with those around them and then disciple those who decide to follow Jesus. The reality for much of the church is that we lead people to the cross but then leave them to sort through the Christian life on their own.
Near the end of the book there is a chapter titled “Finding Leaders for Your Church.” The author encourages the church to look within for their leadership. Any where there is a body of believers gathered around God’s word and discipleship is happening, leaders are birthed. He urges the church to keep in mind that while some people may be born as natural leaders, they may not be spiritually mature. While people aren’t mature disciples, they cannot value making mature disciples because they don’t understand what one looks like. The author then closes out the chapter with a list of qualities that are found in strong and spiritually mature leaders.
You will find this book a very insightful and definitely worth your time spent reading it. Like I mentioned before this book has been very impactful in my life and I would highly recommend for you to read this book. You can purchase it by clicking on the books image.