The role of the senior minister/pastor of the local church is vital in a disciple making focus. Several years ago, at Discipleship.org, we hosted a gathering of national disciple making leaders to strategize on what steps we could collectively take to help churches across the country focus on disciple making. The single most important factor, we concluded, was the senior minister/pastor. If the senior minister/pastor focuses on disciple making, then the church will focus on disciple making. If the senior minister/pastor does NOT focus on disciple making, there is no way the church will focus on disciple making.
To help senior ministers/pastors, I have compiled this unique list of books. I have done my best to provide a high-quality list based upon my research, readings, and input from other national disciple making leaders. However, this list, like all personal recommendations, will reflect biases. That bias, no doubt, is reflected in my recommendation of books that I have written to help the ministry of Discipleship.org.
1. The Master Plan of Evangelism – Robert E. Coleman
This book is the gold standard defining Jesus-style disciple making. It has been read by many millions, translated in over 112 languages, and influenced countless numbers of church leaders in North America and around the world.
2. DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples – Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman
This books describes the five key shifts that leaders must make to move from a program-based church to a relational disciple making church. It is an essential macro-level read for senior ministers/pastors whose job it is to create a disciple making system in the church.
3. Disciple Making Culture: Cultivate Thriving Disciple Makers Throughout Your Church – Brandon Guindon
This is the best book that I know on how to create a disciple making culture in a church. Brandon’s prescriptions and insights are not theory. He has led multiple churches to create and live out the disciple making culture he describes. Brandon was Jim Putman’s executive pastor for many years at Real Life Ministries in Idaho. He then helped transition an established mega church to a disciple making focus, and he followed that by planting a disciple making church in Houston that now is planting multiple disciple making churches every year. When I am asked about the best pure example of a disciple making church in the USA, I point to Real Life Texas as a great example. I recruited Brandon to write this book as a Discipleship.org Resource (our signature book series).
4. Discipleship That Fits: The Five Kinds of Relationships God Uses to Help Us Grow – Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom
This book shows leaders the five key arenas for making disciples and the five key ways discipleship occurs. It looks at how Jesus made disciples and how disciples were formed in the early church. Each of the contexts is necessary at different times and in different ways as a person grows toward maturity in Christ:
- Public Relationships: The church gathering corporately
- Social Relationships: Networks of smaller relationships where we engage in mission and live out our faith in community
- Personal Relationships: Small groups of six to sixteen people where we challenge and encourage one another on a regular basis
- Transparent Relationships: Close relationships of three to four where we share intimate details of our lives for accountability
- The Divine Relationship: Our relationship with Jesus Christ where we grow through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit
5. Emotionally Healthy Discipleship: Moving from Shallow Christianity to Deep Transformation – Pete Scazzero
The thesis of the book is piercing: We won’t take time to go deep down within because we have often been discipled into superficiality. Pete provides a paradigm that will lead to emotional health which will automatically lead to growth in Christ-likeness. Don’t miss the hard work that comes with heeding the recommendations of this book. It will help you address an often-fatal flaw that keeps North American churches from true relational disciple making and spiritual growth.
This book has sold over 150,000 copies (a very high number for Christian leadership books) because it is helpful in describing the role of the senior minister/pastor in a disciple making church. It will help re-orient the mindset and focus and help recalibrate the senior minister/pastor for a new focus.
7. Future Church: Seven Laws of Real Church Growth – Will Mancini and Cory Hartman
Don’t let the title of this book confuse you – it is all about disciple making. Will Mancini is one of the most respected church consultants in the USA and this book marks a BIG CHANGE for Will. Here is the thesis of the book: “Future Church is all about returning the organized church to the passionate conviction of disciple making in the way of Jesus.” “Every pastor has begun to ask themselves,” Mancini says, “are we making disciples or faking them?” This book will become the new apologetic, effectively describing the crisis of the North American church and calling pastors to learn how to lead churches focused on disciple making. Mancini has become so persuaded as to the priority of disciple making that, as he told me recently, he wants disciple making to be the focus on his ministry’s initiatives moving forward.
8. Replicate: How to Create a Culture of Disciple-Making Right Where You Are – Robby Gallaty and Chris Swain
Robby’s focus on the mission of Jesus (to make disciples, not coverts) has led to an ongoing movement that has influenced a whole denomination (Southern Baptist) and now churches of all kinds globally. He is not just a preacher but a disciple making practitioner—which gives him the most credibility.
9. Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time – Greg Ogden
Greg Ogden addresses the need for disciple making in the local church and focuses on Jesus’ method of accomplishing life change by investing in just a few people at a time. Ogden shows how to focus on a group of 3, like Jesus did with Peter, James, and John. Ogden sets forth his vision for transforming both the individual disciple and discipleship itself, showing how discipleship can become a self-replicating process with ongoing impact from generation to generation.
10. 4 Chair Discipling: What Jesus Calls Us to Do – Dann Spader
Dann Spader explains disciple making as a process of moving people through four chairs, from someone seeking to know more about Christ to someone who makes disciples themselves.
Chair 1: Come and See (John 1:39)
Chair 2: Follow Me (John 1:43)
Chair 3: Become a Fisher of Men (Matthew 4:19)
Chair 4: Go and Bear Fruit (John 15:16)
In the process of His four-year ministry, Jesus realized that different people are at different stages of growth and development, and He works to challenge each of them to the next level. In 4 Chair Discipling, you’ll get a clear and simple picture of how to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and do the same thing.
I encourage all our readers to look at the other top 10 lists on disciple making we have published. (include links)
For King Jesus,
The Discipleship.org Team