Looking for an excellent, quick read on what it means to “disciple” someone? Not looking? Either way, you’ll benefit from Mark Dever’s Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus. Even after over twenty years of teaching, ministering, missioning (Microsoft Word says that’s a real word, so I’m using it), and pastoring in some capacity I received some real gut-checks from this one. Dever provides an approach and some how-to on thinking about and doing discipling without delving into specific doctrine—any book on what to teach when discipling would necessarily be rather lengthy. It’s down to earth, very readable and relatable, and is for worth any Christian’s time. He is a Baptist pastor and thus uses some Baptisty jargon at times, but don’t let that be a deterrent; just ask someone knowledgeable about such things if they don’t make sense.
There are only two things I would publicly push back on in light of my wholehearted affirmation of the text:
1) Dever writes, “Moving into the book of Acts and the Epistles, we find the apostles’ discipling program. They’re not just freely roving disciplers among unaffiliated groups of people. Rather, they baptize people into churches, where any one-on-one discipling and fellowship would then occur” (Kindle Locations 634-635). The apostles were baptizing people into the kingdom of God, not local churches. This does not discount the context within which his words are written, but it’s an important distinction that needs correcting.
2) Dever writes, “If you want to see leaders raised up, your general posture should be characterized by a willingness to advance trust. Based on living in different places and traveling, I know such a disposition varies from place to place. But I do think it’s a property of love: love believes all things, hopes all things (1 Cor. 13:7)” (Kindle Locations 1070-1072). This is a common misunderstanding of the common English translation of “believes all things.” The Greek here is “faith” in verb form, which we do not have in English. In order to keep up the poetic one word format “all things” in the larger context of this specific passage as translated into English, many have chosen “believes” as the closest and best option over something akin to “remains faithful.” Again, this doesn’t really detract from Dever’s argument—developing trust is very important!—but it’s a point I thought worth mentioning.
After the book’s very helpful ten chapters there is a conclusion written by someone else that I found repetitive and unnecessary. Other than that, I again highly recommend this one.
*I received a complimentary digital copy of the reviewed book from Crossway through the Blog Review Program in exchange for this honest review.