Book Review – Simple Discipleship by Dana Alin

I’ve reviewed a number of books on here. I’ve liked most of them, but rarely does one stand out as being an ‘essential’ read.  As I read this book I was reminded how little discussion was actually had at Seminary, that I recall, on how to disciple a congregation.  It’s interesting, because that is sort of ‘our thing’ as the church.    In many ways I feel a lot of Pastors just hope that discipleship will happen, but I’m not sure they have an intentional approach nor do they have a way of evaluating success of discipleship.

Simple Discipleship  provides a clear biblical understanding of discipleship, shares thoughts on how to evaluate (including an assessment tool that can be purchased for congregational use), and also provides a different model for discipleship than the traditional one on one mentoring relationship many people strive for.  Here’s a quick summary quote about it – if you are intrigued… grab the book and read it!

“We simplify discipleship—for both the disciple and the person discipling them—if we shift our approach from mentoring to coaching. We will see greater benefits in individual discipleship and increase the capacity for multiplying disciples in the process.”

This book is a great read.  If you don’t agree with it, that’s ok, it will at least facilitate an important conversation and hopefully encourage you to be more intentional in how you nurture discipleship within relationships and within the church.  One of the key things I like is how he ties discipleship to the great commandment from Jesus.  How we need a more wholistic approach to discipleship than just knowledge.  Here are some quotes that illustrate his point:

“If a church emphasizes helping disciples love God with their hearts and minds but negates loving God with their hands, the church will become doctrinally pure and have a robust devotional life but will likely be insulated from the outside world.”

“If a church emphasizes loving God with the heart and strength but minimizes loving God with their minds, then the church will be passionate and action oriented but might not focus on making new disciples. In this scenario, the church might become more like a humanitarian organization that seeks to do good in the world.”

“If a church emphasizes helping disciples love God with their heads and hands but minimizes loving God with their hearts, then the church might begin to function out of obligation and duty rather than joy. In these situations, a church can become very concerned about correct theology and getting people saved but fail to move people into a loving relationship with the Lord.”

Finally, the heart of this book is discipleship for the sake of obedience and a growing relationship with Christ… this heart shows in this final quote that I’ll share with you.

“In our practice of discipleship, it is tempting to feel either like we are earning greater favor with God when we succeed or like we lose some of God’s love when we fail. If we can understand that our position in Christ never changes despite our perceived success or failure, we will approach our discipleship from a much healthier perspective.”

I really do think this book is a worthwhile read and deserves a spot on the pastor’s bookshelf.  Hope you grab it and dive into it.  I think it will be beneficial for our churches if we start wrestling with discipleship more, and this book is a good starting place.


Full disclosure – a review copy was provided to me for free by the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback and opinions on the book.