Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: real-life discipleship



Putnam’s major presupposition in real-life discipleship is that there are five stages that comprise the spiritual growth process (spiritually dead, spiritual infant, spiritual child, spiritual young adult, spiritual parents). He outlines characteristics of each of his stages, as well as, ways to recognize which stage people are in and what people in each stage need to know. Putman lists topics one might cover with a disciple as well as recommended reading but never specifically discusses how to practically utilize either. The curriculum detailed in the book is the use of Bible storying in a small group context.

Putman rightly recognizes: that spiritual growth is a process; that we have to look at the heart motivations behind people's actions; and that humility is one of the most important character traits of a mature believer and leader. However, there are parts of the book which could be strengthened.  Although, sharing the gospel was mentioned, it was not expounded upon where it should have been primary. For example, Chapter Seven, "Moving the Spiritually Dead Toward Life", was particularly disappointing and weak. It spoke more about sharing your testimony and answering an unbeliever's questions than about sharing the gospel. Furthermore, certain aspects of this book (such as the spiritual growth process noted above) needed to be better grounded in Scripture.

Also noteworthy is that real-life discipleship contains no gender distinctions. While our knowledge of God in the discipleship process will be similar, application of that knowledge will often differ. Since Putnam defines a disciple as: "...one who is following Christ (head), being changed by Christ (heart), and committed to the mission of Christ (hands)" (pg. 29-32), I would expect some treatment of varying roles would be appropriate.

All-in-all, I think that there are beneficial things to be gleaned from real-life discipleship, as well as, some food-for-thought. However, it is not the only book one will want to read on the subject and seems geared more towards church leaders.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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