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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Growing Up" (Robby Gallaty)

TITLE: Growing UP: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples
AUTHOR: Robby Gallaty
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, IN: Crossbooks, 2013, (248 pages).

This whole book tries to answer the following questions. How do we as disciples make disciples practically, daily, passionately, and plainly? Written with practice in mind, the methods described in this book have been time tested and group tested. For the past decade, the author has been a part of Discipleship Groups (D-Groups), ever since he was dramatically transformed from his past life as a drug and alcohol addict. He openly shares about his failures encountered. Rejected from the school basketball team, the author had to nurse a failed relationship with his girlfriend, suffered a failed business venture, endured an accident that broke parts of his back, and spiraling downward in drugs and depression. It took a dear friend to patiently walk him back to faith and hope. He experiences what it means to benefit from people who sought to make a difference in the lives of others. "Growing up" is about Gallaty wanting to be a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem. What better way than to consolidate all his energies and ideas into the work of discipleship. For him, making a difference simply means helping to make disciples who can make more disciples.

Just like his Church's mission statement to "Deliver, Disciple, and Deploy," the author spends the first three chapters of the book to make a case for the importance and necessity of making disciples. The rest of the book is contained in six steps using the CLOSER acronym for ease of remembering.
  1. Communicate with God through prayer
  2. Learn to understand and apply God's Word 
  3. Obey God's commands
  4. Store God's Word in our hearts
  5. Evangelize
  6. Renew our Spiritual life daily.

Each D-Group comprises between 3-5 persons of the same gender meeting at least once a week regularly. Every meeting is focused on one of the activities described in the book. Many of the lesson plans can be found on a support website here. The four step process is described as:
  1. Jesus ministered while disciples watched;
  2. Jesus ministered while disciples assisted;
  3. Disciples ministered while Jesus assisted;
  4. Disciples ministered while Jesus watched.
It is quite mindboggling to be reminded that while in the short run, adding converts may increase the numbers. In the long run, making disciples who make disciples will add even more numbers into the kingdom. In a chart comparing the results of an evangelist, a discipler, and a D-group of 4, in sixteen years, an evangelist can add 5840 people, a discipler can add 65536 people, and a D-group of 4 can add 43046721! In other words, reproducing disciple makers are critical to the growth of the kingdom.

The D-group is more than just a Bible study group. It is an accountability group that promises an accountability through confession, confrontation, and compassion where needed. The goal of all discipleship is this: Godliness. All of the six steps in CLOSER are geared toward achieving that, with God's help and the accountability groups. In "communicate," one prays that God will change us from within, through lots of prayer. In "learn," we grow in the Word of God understanding the Word with the direct help of the Spirit. In "Obey," one learns that obedience in practice is the fuel of spiritual growth. In "Store," one cultivates the art of Scripture memory so that God's Word will hide in our hearts, to enable frequent meditation. In "Evangelize," we learn that if discipleship is one end of the oar, sharing God's word is the other end. In "Renew," we learn about the routines that help us keep spiritually fit. The Quiet Time is emphasized. Through Highlight, Explain, Apply, Respond, one listens to God through HEAR in order to let our hearts synchronize with what the Spirit is teaching us through the Word.

So What?

This is a book from a person who had experienced a difference in his life, and subsequently wanting to help make a difference in the lives of others. In a mere eleven years, Gallaty climbs up from the doldrums of drugs and alcohol, toward a life of fervent living for God and obeying God's calling to make disciples through the CLOSER guide. In a nutshell, it is about growing up, less disturbed by the worldliness of needs and materialism, and more passionate about the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Having been powerfully affected by godly people around him, he seeks to share that goodness with many. What I particularly appreciate is the way Gallaty helps debunk the three myths such as the mentoring, the ministry, and the maturity myths (credit: Steve Murrell); to encourage the cultivating of the three indispensable relationships, such as the having a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy (credit: Howard Hendricks);  and to understand the differences between a D-group from a conventional Bible study or Sunday School class. My favourite part of the book is this clarification passage:
"A teacher shares information, while a discipler shares life; a teacher aims for the head, while a discipler aims for the heart; a teacher measures knowledge, while a discipler measures faith; a teacher is an authority, while a discipler is a servant; and a teacher says, ‘Listen to me,’ while a discipler says, ‘Follow me.’"
There are a lot of pedagogical tools in this book to help the novice kick start the path to discipleship. Written with the layperson in mind, the ideas in the book are not only time tested, it is practice oriented. This book is packed with information. More importantly, readers will be able to tell that the author writes not only with passion, there is a powerful sense of urgency that the message of disciples making disciples be shared as widely as possible. All believers in Christ are called to be disciples. There are no exceptions.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


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

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