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Thursday, November 1, 2018

"4 Chair Discipling" (Dann Spader)

TITLE: 4 Chair Discipling: What He Calls Us to Do (Like Jesus Series)
AUTHOR: Dann Spader
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2019, (160 pages).

Discipleship. If you pick up this book, you would most probably have heard of this word. You might even have read other books about discipleship. Search the Internet and one would see tonnes of books and resources about discipleship. Curiously, even though discipleship has been taught often and mentioned widely, one still get a sense of not having understood what it actually means. Maybe it is the terminologies we get stuck with. Perhaps we are not able to get away from set thinking or past mentality. We need a way in which we could easily remember what discipleship is, why it is important, and how we can go about implementing discipleship in our communities of faith. In this book, we have a fascinating model that is easy to remember and articulate. Using a four chair visual, we can intuitively connecting the dots from the lost to the believer, to the worker and the disciple-maker. Rather than becoming seat warmers, we are urged to move from chair to chair and to encourage others to do the same. For ten years, the author focused on the methods of Jesus, studying His main priorities, ministry manner and lifestyle. After debating about the various viewpoints regarding the patterns of Jesus' discipleship, Spader insists that if we study Jesus' ministry chronologically, we will discover an invaluable pattern of discipleship. The key thing is the understand the full humanity of Jesus and everything flows from there. This means learning of Jesus as fully divine and fully human. Learn what did Jesus do before going toward what would Jesus do. For His teachings are always congruent with His lifestyle. The issuing of the Great Commission dovetails naturally into the obedience of the Great Commandment.

Spader synthesizes his learning and issues four challenges to imitate Jesus' way. Briefly, the 4-chair discipling is:

  1. Challenge 1: For seekers to Come and See (John 1:39)
  2. Challenge 2: For believers to Follow Jesus (John 1:43)
  3. Challenge 3: For workers to follow Jesus and let Him make them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)
  4. Challenge 4: For disciple-makers to go and bear fruit (John 15:16)
One chapter each is allocated to describe each of the above chairs. Spader understands the natural tendency of the human being to procrastinate and get stuck on any one chair phase. That is why he takes pains to warn us of "sticking points." He then uses the parable of the sower to remind us the importance of getting toward fruitfulness. If we don't have that vision to bear fruit, we would easily stay seated in the first few chairs. There are also the barriers of sin, of good things, of worldly satisfaction, all of which could derail our discipleship efforts. 

My Thoughts
I like this book for its sheer simplicity and ease of understanding. The use of chairs makes it a very good visual representation of the concept. This is important for a generation that is increasingly more image driven and dependent on visual learning. Spader not only makes the concept easy to understand, he repeats the idea through several other ways. He uses stories and parables from the Bible to home in on basic points. He reminds us to start with Jesus. he creates tables that compare and contrast each of the four chairs so that we can understand the big picture of the whole discipleship program. The appendices help to drive home the message clearly. Perhaps, I can offer three thoughts about this book.

First, discipleship making appears simple at first but the difficulty lies in the obedience of the heart. It is truly about the heart which is why we need to understand the humanity of Jesus. Jesus is one and the same person. He does not think one way and behave another. He maintains a consistent witness and impeccable lifestyle. He is the model for discipleship. If our heart seeks for the heart of Jesus, we will know that discipleship is about love and obeying God.

Second, the process of discipleship does not need to begin at Chair #1. It depends on who the person we are discipling. One needs to discern where and when to embark upon this model. In fact, once we get excited about the model, we would know that discipleship is a continuous process. Once we gain experience in using this discipleship strategy, we can be creative about the different ways to use them, or even invent our own unique way. The sky is the limit with regard to creativity.

Third, and most important of all, we need to try this model ourselves first. Without personally going through it, we would not benefit from the full effect and experience of it. We should be curious enough to ponder about what makes the author so excited about this discipleship model that compels him to write this book.

Dann Spader is founder and director of Sonlife Ministries. He is currently serving as a consultant to various denominations and churches.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

1 comment:

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