Book Review: Building a Discipleship Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram

Posted: May 14, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Book Recommendation, Book reviews

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? This seems to be one of the biggest discussions within Christianity authors recently. There is a resurgence of leaders talking about what exactly the great commission means for individuals within the local church. Mike Breen and Steve Cockram provide not only a definition of discipleship, but also a way of developing a discipleship culture in this book.

The first part of the book is a brief look at the call to make disciples, looking at how Jesus modeled discipleship, and what it means for every Christian. The authors define discipleship as an apprenticeship. The leader of disciples, then, is likened to a mentor who invites and challenges others to greater maturity. This maturity then leads a Christian to a position of leading others into maturity. The goal of discipleship is to become a maker of disciples who make disciples of others.

I appreciate that in this section (Chap 3), we see not only in the life of Jesus, but in sociological studies, the importance of structured, informal, and immersion as needed components of learning. There are going to be people who are wired and geared to learn through one method, yet at the same time all of them are necessary in order to produce trainers that can lead others. This builds into the mind of every disciple (apprentice) the need to create person specific ways of building into others.

The larger and second portion of this book is dedicated to creating a discipleship culture through a unifying language. Mike and Steve then lay out the kind of language and diagrams they use in their context. Although most of these different diagrams and language can be helpful, I would encourage you to consider if these would be the most reproducible and memorable ways to disciple in your context. Within the context of campus ministry, for example, the more memorable, the more transferable, and easy to understand the better it is for students who already have a lot of information to learn and memorize. I would shoot for something students would be able to reproduce with the amount of time they have on campus.

Out of all of the chapters regarding language and culture, I really appreciate chap 9.  It is easy to picture a square with four stops or turns along the way. First, the leader does and the disciple watches. In the second step, the disciple helps as the leader does. The third step is the turning point for the disciple into a leadership role where he leads with the help of the leader. The fourth is a celebratory stage of partnership where the leader watches this disciple emerge as a leader of others in this circle of discipleship.  The circle goes on and on:

1)   I do, you watch          2) I do, you help

3) You do, I help             4) You do, I watch (and celebrate)

I have benefited and have been able to deepen certain convictions while reading this book. There are aspects of discipleship I have not thought of, and others that I am now more informed in. If you want to be a mission-driven leader of disciple-makers, I recommend this resource and the follow up Multiplying Missional Leaders to you.


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