What does it look like to help others become more like Christ?
In this concise guide, pastor Mark Dever outlines the who, what, where, when, why, and how of discipling--helping others follow Jesus.
Following the pattern found in Scripture, this book explains how disciple-making relationships should function in the context of the local church, teaching us how to cultivate a culture of discipling as a normal part of our everyday lives.
Part of the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series.
Mark Dever serves as the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Since his ordination to the ministry in 1985, Dr. Dever has served on the pastoral staffs of four churches, the second being a church he planted in Massachusetts. Prior to moving to Washington in 1994, Dr. Dever taught for the faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University while serving two years as an associate pastor of Eden Baptist Church.
In an effort to build biblically faithful churches in America, Dr. Dever serves as the executive director for 9Marks (formerly The Center for Church Reform, CCR) in Washington, D.C. 9Marks encourages pastors of local churches look to the Bible for instruction on how to organize and lead their churches. Dr. Dever also teaches periodically at various conferences, speaking everywhere from South Africa to Brazil to the United Kingdom to Alabama. Feeling a deep burden for student ministry, Dr. Dever often addresses student ministry groups at campuses throughout the country. He has also taught at a number of seminaries, including Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Dr. Dever’s scholarly interests include Puritanism and ecclesiology.
Dr. Dever currently serves as a trustee of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; he also serves as a member of the board, vice-chairman, and chairman of the Forum for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. From 1995 until 2001, he served on the steering committee for Founders Ministries, a pastoral movement for biblical teaching and healthy church life within the Southern Baptist Convention. As Guest Senate Chaplain for two weeks in 1995, Dr. Dever opened the daily sessions of the United States Senate in prayer. He is a member of the American Society of Church History and the Tyndale Fellowship. He also held the J.B. Lightfoot Scholarship at Cambridge University from 1989 to 1991.
A most practical and readable book about an essential Christian (and may I say Baptist) practice that is woefully neglected. How can one be an obedient Christian without immersion in the practice and art of discipleship? I don't think you can be. Dever's book is divided into three parts, with the first part that is titled "What Is Discipling?" being a very good piece of persuasion that every gospel minister and Christian should take to heart. The second part, "Where Should We Disciple?", does a commendable job of showing the central place the local Church has not only to the Christian life but to the Christian activity of obeying our Lord's Great Commission by engaging in discipling as an ongoing lifestyle. The final portion of the book is the how to part. There is only one part of the book I didn't like, Mark's advice to leave a Church for another one if you think you are not being fed. My more than forty years experience leads me to conclude that attempts to justify such departures by such claims are rarely the real reason for the departure. Oh well. What is missing from this great little book? Perhaps a few comments about terminating a discipleship arrangement. the tone of the book that I appreciate is that Mark Dever is not an ivory tower spiritual leader. We have had too many of those types. Not that a Spurgeon or a Norris or a Criswell are not men God wonderfully used, but the one's who try to copy them are so frequently engaged in self-exaltation. I am delighted to see no trace of that in this book. I think it is healthy for the cause of Christ.
Mark Dever does an phenomenal job of explaining how discipling fits into the life of every Christian as well as giving practical application for living it out. This is definitely a book that will point you in the right direction to help you encourage and build up your fellow Christians and church members.
“Discipling” by Mark Dever is an excellent introduction to Christian discipleship. Dever’s book is a brief but well rounded discussion on what discipleship is, who disciples and how to disciple. Rather than emphasizing his own technique Dever humbly exalts the Scriptures but offers wisdom that can apply to some but not all situations. The highlights of this book is that discipleship is something all Christians should participate in, discipleship is a way of loving others, discipleship should be intentional, and pastors should be eager to delegate to raise up leaders. Those familiar with Dever and 9marks ministries will find many familiar things in this book, but this will not retract from the value of the book at all. Ultimately Dever’s book succeeds in its task because it made me want to disciple more faithfully, I highly recommend this book!
This book both raises the stakes and lowers the bar in ways that spur Christians toward doing spiritual good to one another as we “assist one another in the fight for love and holiness”. Such an encouragement to read this a second time and discuss it with my friend.
Fantastic little book on discipling by Mark Dever. This book is short, clear, and wonderfully practical. For anyone who is looking to make a start in personally obeying the Great Commission, this is an excellent resource. One of the most helpful sections was Dever's practical advice on knowing who to get started with. Highly recommend this one!
Mar 2021 - I skimmed through this book because our church interns were reading it. It's even better than I remembered.
Dec 2019 - This is a good book, but I didn't feel like it fleshed out the life-on-life investment that is characteristic of Dever. Part 1 (what is discipling?) was good. Part 2 was mostly about ecclesiology and, though good material, was not directly related to discipleship.
This book is the single most helpful resource I’ve read on discipleship. It helps immensely to flesh out what exactly discipleship looks like in the context of a local church with similar implications for family life as well. Discipling by Mark Dever has left me eager to meet with my brothers and sisters at church and to help them grow in the Lord.
This book is a great primer on the what/why/how of discipling in the church. Dever provides the biblical support for the call for every Christian to help others follow Jesus. He also provides helpful examples of what this kind of relationships looks like. He understands the diversity of personalities and giftings in the church and thus his instruction is not a one-size-fits all approach.
I also appreciated how he places the work of discipling within the context of a local church. Much the discipling literature is written by those involved in parachurch ministries. This doesn't mean it's invalid, but sometimes it is lacking in a fully-orbed picture of the Christian life. Dever's work helps fill out that picture.
Mark Dever defines discipleship as individuals following Jesus. He defines "disciplING" as intentional doing spiritual good to others to help them follow Jesus. Both are necessary.
Discipling is not something only done by a pastor, it's not a twelve or fifteen week program, it's not a process that begins and then is completed this side of heaven. It's an ongoing exercise, just like discipleSHIP is an ongoing exercise. And it takes place in a New Testament church as all of us help each other.
This book helps us see what discipling ought to be, and how to personally put that into practice.
Great, Little Book. Although 5”x7”dimensionally & 113 pages in length, this book contains a depth of practical information about establishing a culture of discipleship in a local Church.
What I found most excellent: - Centers around the local Church ministry - Makes references other books which I will be adding to my list - Very practical, immediate action, types of application - Provoking!! Am I doing “deliberate spiritual good” in the lives of others?
This is one book in a series of 9. I’ll have to look for the others 8 and get them on the list. HIGHLY Recommended.
Mark Dever's book surrounding the topic of discipling within the church is a practical, insightful, and encouraging read about practical ways that discipling can grow within the church body. Dever is able to keep his statements focused on the individual reader, while never shying away from talking about the church body's responsibility to disciple as a whole. Very practical and very easy to read, I recommend this book.
Update: I think the exact same way about this book.
A brisk read that should help Christians understand, and perhaps recover, the "plainness" of discipling one another. According to Dever, "Discipling others now is how I try to leave time-bombs of grace." And as good as the book is, the conclusion by Leeman might have been my favorite part.
Disclaimer: I only listened to this one on Hoopla.
As is typical of 9Marks and Mark Dever material, the book is no attempt at novelty or new strategies; rather, it puts toward relationships built around the Word of God and in the context of the people of God. The work is an amalgam of Biblical wisdom and examples of the application of said wisdom. It offers no steps, levels, or quick fixes; rather, it is a call to work for the spiritual and eternal betterment of others.
Solid book. Would have liked more “how to” but I guess that is the beauty of this book, it doesn’t say “this is the way to do it” instead it is a lot of “here is the reason/mindset and go do your thing...” good stuff
This is a wonderfully practical book! The introduction and chapters 1-4 will shock and convict you out of a life of comfortable Christian selfishness and isolation. *OW* The rest of the book will give you practical ways to live out Jesus beautiful command to make disciples. I have a long list of things to implement in my opportunities to go toward others with a desire to do them spiritual good!
Excellent book. Inspiring and helpful. In addition to giving a succinct philosophy of Discipling grounded in Biblical principles and directives, Dever also packs in a lot of practical ways to disciple.
Helpful and concise. It had helpful common objections and answers. The only reason for 3 stars was the narrow scope of the topic of discipleship. It didn’t talk about the teaching of doctrine and theology corporately or discipleship in the family. But the content offered is helpful.
This short, practical book gives a great overview of discipling (why and how we do it).
It's broken up in very brief chapters and follows a natural progression from what discipling is, to where and how it should be done. It includes common objections, what to look for in who to disciple, how to raise up and equip leaders who will model discipleship and also an appendix of books to use in discipling relationships.
I loved the working definition of discipling used in this book: deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ. It's vague in what is done, but specific in the outcome.
The author writes that God's love starts a "chain reaction" in which he loves us, then we love him, then we love others. We have influence with others (even just because we bear God's image) and we are called to use that influence for the spiritual good of others with our eyes set on the Last Day ("Proclaim the Word of God now; present the saints mature in Christ when he comes later.").
This influence is best used in the context of the local church. Being part of a church not only uncovers our sins as we are taught the Word and interact with other believers, but it provides a prime context for living our lives with other believers and engaging in discipling relationships ("discipling really is just a bunch of church members taking responsibility to prepare one another for glory.") Our pastors teach us the Word which feeds all other discipling; the ordinances also teach and designate who the members are (in most cases, relationships with fellow members offer the best discipling opportunities). The congregation supports the pastor(s) and follow his example in discipling each other. Because of these reasons and more, "The local church - this Father-designed, Jesus-authorized, and Spirit-gifted body - is far better equipped to undertake the work of discipling believers than simply you and your one friend."
Discipling corrects both an overemphasis on relationships with people, and an overemphasis on doctrine. We display the power of the gospel by uniting with and learning from people who are different from us. The author writes, "Your life should attract people to listen to you; your teaching should then work for their transformation; their transformed lives should then illustrate what you taught, which in turn attracts people to listen to them." We need to be willing to take the time and "pay the cost" of discipling others and encourage them in their relationship with Christ (this relationship should be at least somewhat reciprocal). When done well, with humility, it can lead to generations of future disciples of Christ.
The only thing I didn't really like about this book was the conclusion at the very end (written by Jonathan Leeman). He has some good material about how a good pastor works to create a culture of discipleship in his church but it's a little repetitive and it's in the context of how well Mark Dever does this at his church. It felt a little out of place to me to read a book by Dever about how to do this well and then to have someone from his church (and one of the editors of this series) conclude it with what the reader is missing out on from not experiencing "the great illustration that is his own life." Leeman writes that while the biblical material in this book can replicated, "some of the things that Mark does in discipling are the properties of his personality and cannot be." This is thankfully true of all pastors since God works in them and their congregations uniquely, but it felt to me like Leeman thought we were all missing out because we don't go to Dever's church. While I'm sure Mark is a great, godly pastor, I didn't love that this book was wrapped up with the praise and example of how one man is doing this well since all pastors, through God's grace, can be used by God in exactly the way their congregation needs. I wish the book would have just left it with the previous material and not ended by focusing specifically on Mark Dever, however, maybe this conclusion will be helpful to other pastors/church leaders who can benefit from real-life examples. There are some helpful questions for application/development in it as well as a good discussion about "exercising authority while passing out authority."
Overall, this is a really helpful primer about discipleship. It covers a lot of ground and gives a biblical foundation for the many facets of this type of relationship. It's easy to read, challenging and inspiring. I think it would be very helpful in setting the tone for discipling at a local church.