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sneak peak at the new book

July 12, 2011

Less than two years ago we released a self-published book called Building a Discipling Culture. We released it quickly, not having as much time as we would have liked to really craft the book, knowing we were going to have to leave out a lot of content and nuance we would have liked. There was a large demand for the book and we felt we needed to get it out. In the 22 months since then it has become somewhat of an underground best-seller.

Mercifully, however, we are proud to announce that in less than ONE MONTH, we will be releasing the re-written version of Building a Discipling Culture…and you will be able to buy it (and our other two core books) via hard copy and as an ebook through ipad or kindle. Furthermore, 2/3rds of this book has new content that we’ve never put out before. It really has been quite an overhaul.

To whet your appetite a little and to get in gear for the launch of ebooks, we’ll be releasing snippets of the book here on this blog in the next month. And to start…here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.



The problem is that most of us have been educated and trained to build, serve and lead the organization of the church. Most of us have actually never been trained to make disciples. Seminary degrees, church classes and training seminars teach us to grow our volunteer base, form system and organizational structures or preach sermons on Sunday mornings and assimilate newcomers from the Sunday service. As we look around as Christendom is crumbling and the landscape of the church is forever changed, a stark revelation emerges: Most of us have been trained and educated for a world that no longer exists.

However, the call to make disciples still remains. It never wavers and never changes. Make disciples.

Here’s the thing that can be difficult to wrap our minds around: If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.

Most of us have become quite good at the church thing. And yet, disciples are the only thing that Jesus cares about, and it’s the only number that Jesus is counting. Not our attendance or budget or buildings. He wants to know if we are “making disciples.” Many of us serve in or lead churches where we have hundreds or even thousands of people showing up on Sunday. But we have to honestly answer this question: Do their lives look like the lives of the people we see in Scripture? Are we just good at getting people together once a week and maybe into a small group, or are we actually good at producing the types of people we read about in the New Testament? Have we shifted our criteria for a good disciple as someone who shows up to our stuff, gives money and occasionally feeds poor people?

Effective discipleship builds the church, not the other way around. We need to understand the church as the effect of discipleship and not the cause. If you set out to build the church, there is no guarantee you will make disciples. It is far more likely that you will create consumers who depend on the spiritual services that religious professionals provide.

Now one of the buzzwords around today is the word “missional.” People want to create missional churches or missional programs or missional small groups.

The problem is that we don’t have a “missional” problem or a leadership problem in the Western church. We have a discipleship problem. If you know how to disciple people well, you will always get mission. Always. You see, somewhere along the way we started separating being “missional” from being a disciple, as if somehow the two could be separated. Pastors started saying they didn’t want to be inwardly-focused so they stopped investing in the people in their churches so they could focus on people outside their churches.

Granted, we should focus on people who don’t know Jesus yet, but Jesus himself gave us the model for doing that: Disciple people. If you know how to actually make disciples, you’ll reach people who don’t know Jesus. Because that’s simply what disciples do. That was Jesus’ whole plan. If you know how to disciple people, with the work and shaping of the Spirit, the future of the church will emerge.

It all starts with making disciples.

Jesus has not called you to build his church. In fact, in all of the Gospels he mentions the church only two times. One time he mentions it, it’s about conflict resolution. The other time? To say that he will build his church. Our job, our only job and the last instructions he gave us, was to make disciples. And out of this we will get the church. Out of this, the future will emerge, and out of this, there will be a missional wave the likes of which we have never seen.

What we want to do in this book is give you the basics of how we have learned to disciple people over the past twenty-five to thirty years. We learned to do this in the crucible of post-Christian Europe where, in the place where many of these ideas and practices sprung up, less than 1% of people were attending church, and a missional revolution began. What we have found, over and over again, is that if you disciple people it will always lead to mission. We’ve seen this in Europe. In Africa and South America, in Asia and yes…in the United States. Jesus’ model for seeing heaven colliding into earth, for seeing the Kingdom of God advance in community, for seeing the world put to rights and people becoming Christians, was discipleship. Period. That was his whole deal. So if you’re counting converts, budget or buildings first and foremost, you’re not counting the things that Jesus counted, and you’re not counting the thing that will change the world: Disciples.

We want to be clear: We are not saying this is the only way to disciple people or even the best way. This method has worked in shaping us, teaching us to be learners of Jesus, and has now successfully shaped and transformed communities all over the world. It isn’t a perfect system because there are no perfect systems (which is particularly true when you realize discipleship is a relational endeavor depending on broken people living in the grace of God!). We humbly offer this book and our journey as a possible way of moving forward and once again taking seriously the Great Commission of making disciples.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2011 2:49 pm

    Cool! and Ouch! I just bought a printed copy about a week ago 🙂 Good reading, but now I’m curious about the new 2/3-never-published material!

    Good job improving an excellent resource Mike.

  2. Henrik H permalink
    July 12, 2011 4:19 pm

    Great – is looking forward for the ebooks

  3. Knut Tveitereid permalink
    July 12, 2011 5:25 pm

    This I am really looking forward to…

  4. July 12, 2011 5:25 pm

    I’m excited about this new book. My appetite has been whetted!

  5. The Neemanns permalink
    July 12, 2011 6:05 pm

    Fabulous!!! We are so on board…we must get wiser as we grow older??? : )

  6. July 12, 2011 6:19 pm

    Will the books be available in the “epub” format (I use a Sony ereader and am unlikely to get kindle or ipad). alternatively, can it be bought as a PDF?

    brilliant post that has wet my appetite. Discipleship is my biggest area of reflection at the moment as I seek to lead old and new believers into encouters with Jesus and provide them with the necessary tools to grow, live and pass on their faith. excited to read this excerpt and looking forward to more.

  7. willi stewart permalink
    July 16, 2011 4:01 pm

    I like this so far.

  8. July 16, 2011 10:29 pm

    Thanks for the Kindle version! Anything else moving in that direction?

  9. July 16, 2011 11:27 pm

    Glad it will be in Kindle format. I love taking my whole library with me 🙂

  10. July 19, 2011 4:24 am

    thanks mike, we are reading BDC (new version) with our staff and have three huddles starting in the next month, we look forward to teaming with you to build the church of the future by investing in the invitation and challenge of making disciples. Peace be with you guys hope to see you soon

  11. July 23, 2011 9:07 pm

    Can’t wait, these tools have transformed my life and so many others.

  12. August 15, 2011 3:06 pm

    Hi Mike – any news on the book? Has it been re-published yet? Thanks.

    • August 16, 2011 2:01 pm

      Adrian, we are hoping to launch it the first of September. Hold on, mate, we’re almost there!


  1. Go! by Dave Harder | Together Canada

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