A Powerful Strategy For Discipleship Multiplication
Book Review By David P. Craig
In the twenty five years that I have been involved in ministry as a pastor I have oftentimes been frustrated with discipleship materials. I have found them to either be too simplistic, or too abstract and academic. I think Robby Gallaty has struck a good balance in “Growing Up” by providing disciples of Jesus with a balanced resource for beginning and advanced disciple-makers. The book is full of biblical principles, powerful illustrations, and practical insights to help disciples of Christ make multiplying disciples of Christ.
In the first four chapters Gallaty gives his own testimonial of how discipleship made a huge impact on his own journey with Christ and gives a passionate biblical argument for discipleship and why being a disciple and the making of more disciples should be at the forefront of a Christian’s life. The strategy of becoming and making disciples articulated in this book is the idea of D-Groups (Discipleship Groups). D-groups ideally consist of a group three to five men or women (gender exclusive) who meet weekly and have three primary purposes: (1) growth in the knowledge and imitation of Christ; (2) growth in the ability to articulate and defend the Christian faith; and (3) and helping to guide others in the faith – sharing what you are learning with others along the discipleship journey.
The ultimate goal of being a disciple is to make more disciples. Gallaty makes a great case for the effectiveness in discipleship groups of 3-5 people. How are D-groups different from a regular small group? Here are some differences: (a) The D-Group is a closed group open by invitation only; (b) consists of believers who desire a deeper walk with Christ; and (c) has the dynamics of community rather than a teacher-pupil or mentor-mentee relationship. Herein lies the key to multiplication.
After twenty-five years of being involved in the process of making disciples I have found this to be true. I haven’t seen a lot of multiplication from one-on-one discipleship, but I’ve seen much more multiplying accomplished in groups of 3-5. I’ve never called them “D-groups” but the principles are the same no matter what you call them. One of the examples Gallaty gives is what if Jesus had discipled Judas one-on-one rather than John, Peter, and James? In other words the disciples knew how to be and build a community of disciples through discipleship. Jesus wasn’t just a teacher who taught pupils – He showed them how to live life with all that it entails.
This is so important because discipleship is more than just information, or just teaching. It is about a radical lifestyle that affects every aspect of life. When 3-5 disciples are growing together there is an organic aspect that takes place in communal growth which one-on-one simply doesn’t usually achieve. The spiritual climate that God uses to bring about growth in our lives involve people, circumstances, and the spiritual disciplines which are best nurtured in the context of communal commitment in a D-Group.
In the second half of the book Gallaty uses the acrostic C.L.O.S.E.R. to talk about six spiritual disciplines that need to be taught, nurtured, and developed in a D-Group. These six chapters focus on six disciplines that Jesus modeled and taught to His disciples: (1) Communicate – how to talk with God through prayer; (2) Learn – to understand and apply God’s Word in your life; (3) Obey – God’s commands; (4) Store – God’s Word in your heart through Scripture memory; (5) Evangelize – how to share Christ with others; (6) Renew – yourself spiritually every day.
Each chapter stands alone, and yet builds on the previous chapter – much like stones making a sturdy wall. All of the chapters have (a) questions to consider for discussion; (b) Points to ponder; and (c) A Scripture verse to memorize on the theme of the chapter. The book is designed to establish D-Groups and is for D-Groups. One of the great features of the Book is the Appendix Section in the back which consists of 11 helpful resources: (1) A Disciple-Making Covenant; (2) Spiritual Journey Inventory; (3) Sample H.E.A.R. Entry (He talks about this in the book – HEAR stands for what to “Highlight” from God’s Word, “Explain” from God’s Word, “Apply” from the passage to your life, and “Respond” to in your life; (4) A Bible Reading Plan Called E100 (from the http://e100challenge.com.; (5) A Prayer Log; (6) A Scripture Memory Card; (7) Accountability Questions; (8) 7 Different avenues for building relationships; (9) 12 Commonly asked questions about D-Groups (e.g., How do I choose disciples?, How many people should be in the group?, Where and how often should we meet? and so forth); (10) Suggested resources for D-groups; and (11) How to pray for lost friends.
I highly recommend this book for five primary reasons: (1) It will fire you up to be a disciple and make disciples in the context of community; (2) It will give you a strategy and plan for making disciples; (3) It will give you all the tools you need for making disciples; (4) It will convince you that discipleship for the Christian is not an option – it’s what it means to be a Christian!; (5) It will make you want to teach and apply the material in your own D-Group.
Robby Galatty’s “Growing Up” is based on Psalm 1:1-2. He plans on writing two more books in this series: “Firmly Planted” based on Psalm 1:3, followed by “Bearing Fruit” based on Psalm 1:3b. I am already looking forward to reading and applying these books with my own D-Group. Gallaty has written a book that is biblical, theologically rich, extremely logical and eminently practical. I predict that it may be one of the most used discipleship training workbooks to ever come along. I am grateful for this book and can’t wait to start a D-Group and apply it!