I can’t tell you how many times I get asked, “What are your Top 3 Discipleship Books of all Time?“or “Can you List 5 Discipleship books that I need to read.”
I imagine you’ve asked the same question before.
Instead of condensing years of scholarship into a list of 3—something that would be impossible to do—I have decided to list the Top 12 Discipleship Books of All Time. Well, maybe not all time (all time just sounds cool), but for this time. Some of these you may have read. Others you may have never heard of. All are worth your time.
Here is the List (drumroll……..):
12. Christopher Adsit
Many people are unfamiliar with Chris Adsit who has served with Campus Crusade for years. (He spoke at our Replicate Conference 2 years ago and did an Outstanding job.) This is one of the most formative books in developing my theology of discipleship. In addition to addressing the fundamentals of discipleship, Adsit outlines twelve training objectives geared toward teaching your group.
- Jim Putman
Real Life Discipleship
Jim shares his story—this book actually predates DiscipleShift—of how God multiplied his church in Utah from a handful of people to over seven thousand congregants through discipleship groups. Jim utilizes what I call “the cell model” (i.e., twelve-to-fifteen individuals) for accountability and transformation. Pay close attention to the diagnostic tool for examining the different stages of growth in believers: spiritually dead, spiritual infant, spiritual child, spiritual young adult, and spiritual parent. His breakdown of how a disciple evolves is invaluable.
10. Mike Breen
Building a Discipling Culture
Mike combats the view that discipleship is another ministry in the church; rather, he builds a case for a discipling culture that permeates every ministry. Birthed out of years of ministry experience, the reader is exposed to the importance of changing one’s language in order to change the culture. My favorite quote from the book is: “If you seek to make disciples, you always get the church. If you seek to build a church, you rarely get disciples.”
- Eric Geiger, Philip Nation and Michael Kelley
Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow
By means of empirical research, the authors identify the “why” and “how” people grow in their walk with Christ. By implementing the “transformational sweet spot,” that is, the convergence of truth, posture, and leadership, a person will experience transformational growth. Don’t expect the material to be heady and analytical. The book is seasoned with applicable illustrations that make the information easy to digest.
- Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Coleman
DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples
The authors suggest that five shifts need to take place in order for the Church to begin making disciples. The Church needs to change course from Reaching to Making, from Informing to Equipping, from Program to Purpose, from Activity to Relationship, and from Accumulating to Deploying. The theology behind each shift, as well as walking points for implementing each shift, are provided.
- Jonathan Dodson
The solemn charge of Matthew 28:18-20 is generally referred to as the “Great Commission.” In Gospel Centered Discipleship, author Jonathan Dodson labels it the “Gospel Commission” and highlights its three important aspects: “Go,” “Baptize,” and “Teach.” Go refers the missional (i.e., missionary) aspect of our calling; every believer is to participate in taking the gospel to others. Baptize refers to the relational (i.e., family) aspect of being a disciple; every believer should instruct all who believe in Christ to announce their relationship with Him and His people through the symbolic act of baptism. Teach refers to the rational (i.e., learner) aspect of our mission; every believer is to teach others about Jesus and how to follow Him.
- Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
The Trellis and the Vine
The authors outline a biblical framework—something many resources fail to address—for making disciples. The book begins by identifying eleven shifts that need to take place in order for discipleship to happen. I appreciate the authors’ suggestion that discipleship goes deeper than small groups, and even deeper than preaching. Pastors are encouraged to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not just execute the ministry themselves. This book is an ideal resource for a leadership team. In fact, I walked both my staff and deacons through this book.
- Greg Ogden
Many years ago, Greg Ogden developed a disciple-making curriculum, which later became Discipleship Essentials, for his Doctor of Ministry project. He implemented the material in three different contexts—one-on-one, a group of three, and a group of ten—to determine the ideal discipleship group size. Transforming Discipleship records the findings of his research. If you are new to the discipleship dialogue, get this book.
- Robert Coleman
The Master Plan for Evangelism
Many resources guide individuals through curriculum in the context of a group, assuming that cognitive learning leads to behavioral modification. Coleman pinpoints eight principles that Jesus implemented when discipling the twelve: selection, association, consecration, impartation, demonstration, delegation, supervision, and reproduction, devoting a chapter to each one.
3. Leroy Eims
The Lost Art of Disciplemaking
Originally written in 1979, Eims examines discipleship from a biblical perspective. He identifies the maturation process in the life of a believer from a convert, to a disciple, to a worker, and finally, to a leader. For years, I led my discipleship groups through this book before going through any others. This is a classic work that should be on the shelf of every disciple-maker.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship
Using the sermon on the mount as the framework for his work, Bonhoeffer masterfully applies Jesus’ words to our lives. Although it was written in 1937, readers will discover timeless truths that can be implemented immediately. I still remember where I was when I read this book for the first time.
- Bill Hull
The Complete Book on Discipleship
The title says it all. Bill has assembled twenty-five years of research, development, and trial-and-error expertise into a textbook for training disciples. Bill writes not as an armchair theologian, but as an experienced practitioner. Although he is a philosopher by nature, his style is conversational and approachable. Get this book for your discipleship library.
The Invested Life
The Discipling Church
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