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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Grow" (Winfield Bevins)

TITLE: GROW - Reproducing Through Organic Discipleship
AUTHOR: Winfield Bevins
PUBLISHER: Exponential Resources, 2013.

[Free ebook available here.]

One of the ways to measure Church growth is in through their initiatives in planting Churches. Have they planted a church in the past ten years or are they content with just maintaining their size? Maybe, there are leaders who are passionate about growth but adopt strategies that look good on others but inappropriate for itself? Perhaps, there are leaders who are so concerned about growth strategies that they begin with management techniques that look more worldly than anything the Bible has to say.

The gist of this book is to avoid all the worldliness or inappropriate growth strategies that the world has to offer. Instead, the author argues that church growth must begin with the gospel, and grow "organically." Disciples need to grow naturally. Bevins defines  discipleship as follows: "Discipleship is an organic process of helping others become and continue to be disciples of Jesus Christ."

Seven things are evident in this.
  1. Discipleship is about transformation into Christlikeness more and more;
  2. Christian discipleship involves every dimension of life.
  3. Christian discipleship is progressive, and true disciples are always growing.
  4. Christian discipleship is not a Do-It-Yourself endeavor but a Spirit-led movement
  5. Christian discipleship exists to help one another in the community of Christ
  6. Christian discipleship automatically reproduces
  7. Christian discipleship is centered in the life of the local church.
Bevins helpfully describes some of the problems faced by churches in America in their discipleship or the lack of discipleship. Three roadblocks are mentioned. First, there is the challenge of the "radically unchurched" who find that true spirituality no longer exists in churches but elsewhere. Worse, churches are denying this and choosing to continue more of the same, leading to a disconnect between the seekers and the church-goers. Second, many churches have unwittingly substituted evangelism for discipleship. They prefer "conversion" instead of making disciples. The point is, both evangelism and discipleship are to be emphasized. Third, the notion of institutionalization continues to prevent churches from making disciples. Bevins observes that "many of the great revivals of the past began as disciple making movements; however, over time they became secular institutions."

Thankfully, Bevins does not leave us helpless with the problems and the challenges. Bevins proposes four ways in which churches can grow and make disciples. First, the key is the gospel, which must be the central focus from beginning to end. A gospel-centered discipleship is Christ-focused, grace-filled, and aligned in hope toward the God of glory. It trusts God to guide churches toward the goal of reaching the world for Christ. The second aspect is the mission and the living out of the mission. God is a missionary God. The Church exists for the purpose of mission. He suggests the following shifts first broached by Ed Stetzer.

  • From programs to processes 
  • From demographics to discernment 
  • From models to missions 
  • From attractional to incarnational 
  • From uniformity to diversity 
  • From professional to passionate 
  • From seating to sending 
  • From decisions to disciples 
  • From additional to exponential 
  •  From monuments to movements.
Third, making disciples is about building communities. Any discipleship movement must be done within the context of an authentic Christian community. We are made for fellowship, not solitary confinement. We need to be connected to the vine of Christ, and lead others to do the same. Community groups are the way to go. Through community, we can serve and grow.

Four, making disciples is about reproducing men and women after God's heart in Christ. Note how Jesus selects his disciples, be associated even with the least, set them apart for the work of God, impart his authority, demonstrate, delegate, and empower the disciples to do God's work. 

My Thoughts

This little booklet is clear and concise and will serve the church leader well. It reminds us all over again, that making disciples is the key role churches are to adopt, with Christ and the gospel as the center of focus. The problem with many churches is that they are not exactly sure what is the mission of the church in the first place. Without clarity about the goal and identity of the Church, they can easily be swayed by strange ideas of the world and adopt worldly techniques that fail to promote the cause of Christ. Worse, it keeps the church stagnated and powerless against the darkness and evil of the world. God has given the world the Church to stand up for the faith and to be the mission for the world.

Thankfully, Bevins has given us one important resource for us to take appropriate steps toward disciple making. After all, all great revivals and movements come about whenever churches shift their focus away from programs and toward disciple making. May this be the prayer and thrust of churches all over.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5


This book is provided to me free by Exponential.org resources without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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