Discipleship is at the heart of Christianity. We live in a time of Gospel centrality where a lot of people have accepted the Gospel as truth – maybe even surrendered their lives to Jesus – but haven’t been all that interested in following Jesus since.
In America, we’ve made a lot of converts over the last 20-30 years, but I wonder how many true disciples the church has made.
One problem many churches and church leaders face is not having a clear, reproducible framework for discipleship. Where do we start? What does this look like? Does discipleship look the same for everyone?
On the other hand, maybe you’re not a church leader. Maybe you know Jesus but don’t really know how to take next steps.
Thankfully there are plenty of resources for both needs. There are plenty of books written on discipleship and disciple-making each year – some on how to become a disciple and others on how to make disciples. I’ve read a lot of these myself. Some are helpful, some are not-so-helpful, and some are game changers.
I put together a short list of 5 game changers. A few are perfect to walk through with others as you seek to create a culture of disciple making, while I identified two as more personal discipleship books.
6 Helpful Books on Discipleship
Written By: JT English
JT makes the strong point: Everyone is being discipled. The question is: what is discipling us? He breaks down discipleship into three key elements: The Bible, theology, and spiritual disciplines.
He lays out a practical plan to help church leaders establish environments and relationships that help our people grow in each area.
Written By: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
One of the best aspects of this book is the fact that Dietrich truly experienced the cost of discipleship. It's not theoretical or hypothetical. He writes with deep conviction and from personal experience.
It's not necessarily a textbook on discipleship, but it is full of wisdom and truth for anyone looking to follow in the ways of Jesus.
Written By: Mike Breen
Building a Discipling Culture is an incredibly practical book – perfect for small groups or individuals. It follows a framework used by Mike for decades that utilizes shapes and shared language in discipleship.
It's great for churches and organizations (hence the "building a culture" language), but it can also be read by individuals or used in small groups outside of an established church.
Written By: David Platt
David Platt seeks to answer, "What does it really look like to follow Jesus?" He gets to the point right away, estimating that most people in churches across America are "cultural Christians" and aren't truly following Jesus.
He goes on to break down what it truly means to follow Jesus and live a life of deep discipleship.
Written By: Jonathon Dodson
This book presents a Gospel-centered model for making Gospel-centered disciples. Dodson reminds readers that real discipleship is imperfect yet transformational, and he encourages Christians to engage more authentically with others as they grow in faith.
I read this book as a teenager leading small groups at my local church, and it changed the way I viewed discipleship and sanctification. It has since been updated – and I'm sure it's even more helpful now.
Written By: Richard Foster
This is a classic book on spiritual growth through the spiritual disciplines – which many would say is at the heart of personal discipleship. Though we note this is a great book for individuals (personal discipleship opposed to a book to use in groups), this book does lay out a great framework for thinking about discipleship and making disciples.
Discipleship Goes Deeper Than Reading a Book
The above books provide helpful frameworks for personal and corporate discipleship. They can serve as helpful guides on your journey to following Jesus better and making disciples yourself, but at the end of the day – there’s no one route to discipleship.
Frameworks help, but God and the process to knowing Him better can’t be boxed into a process or step-by-step guide.
Discipleship is far more complex than some may make you think. So grab one of these discipleship books and read it, but more importantly – experience Jesus for yourself. Spend time with Him. Put His Word on your heart. Go on the journey with others. And don’t believe the lie that it’s a linear journey that fits perfectly within a manmade framework.