Read Bobby Harrington’s review of Brandon Guindon’s book Disciple-Making Culture to help you decide about using it for your group.
In this post, Bobby Harrington and I review Brandon Guindon’s book Disciple-Making Culture. Bobby Harrington is founder and CEO of Renew.org and Discipleship.org. Bobby is going to give you the main message of the book, his three biggest takeaways, and how you could use this book in discipleship groups.
Bobby Harrington: The main message of Disciple-Making Culture is that as church leaders, you need to create a culture in the church built around disciples who make disciples.
That culture within a church is different than the culture of the world. And that culture within a church is more important than any strategy, any set of goals, or any tactics you might embrace because culture is more dominant than anything else in a church.
My Three Biggest Takeaways from Disciple-Making Culture
1. The Most Important Conversation
This conversation around culture is the most important conversation when it comes to disciple making in North America today. So many leaders do not understand that strategy, goals, and tactics will not survive if the culture is against them. The deeper work in a church that wants to embrace disciple making is the work of creating a culture.
When we refer to culture, we mean the way a church functions naturally. It’s the habits, practices, beliefs, and narrative.
One person described it this way: Culture is simply the way we do things around here.
It’s often unconscious. It was conscious when it was established, but then it becomes unconscious. It’s just a part of your life.
Let me give you an example. In our leadership at the church I attend, our elders are committed to praying. We pray every week; we meet at 6 a.m. on Thursday mornings, and it’s not something that we have to consciously decide to do after working at it for five years.
Now at first we had to work at it. Everybody had to commit to getting up early, and we had to get used to getting up early every Thursday. But now it’s just part of our culture as elders. And because it’s a part of our culture, the week wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t do it. It’s just part of how we function as elders in the church each week.
Culture is like that. It just has become a part of who you are. And that’s the big benefit of the conversation this book promotes.
2. Key Elements of Disciple-Making Culture
This book describes the key elements of a culture of disciple making. Those four elements are:
- An intentional leader
- A relational environment
- A reproducible process that you can follow
- A biblical foundation
Through those four key elements, Brandon does a good job of helping to explain how churches can develop that culture.
3. A Reproducible Process
This is very important to have a disciple-making culture. Everybody in the church needs to understand the basic reproducible process.
For example, in a West-African context, you would find disciple-making movements using Discovery Bible Study, and everybody there would understand how a Discovery Bible Study works. So when you’re a newcomer, you go into a group, and you get used to the questions. Then before long you’re participating in that group, and you know the questions. And then before long after that, you’re actually leading your own Discovery Bible Study yourself. That is a reproducible process.
Brandon’s book focuses on the reproducible process of leading a small group where you guide people from being spiritual infants to spiritual children, to spiritual young adults, to spiritual parents.
In the church where I attend, we have a reproducible process with our transformation groups. They start off with a covenant, then they have everyone share their biographies, and then everyone works through the Trust and Follow Jesus material. Then they transition after that for a period of several months to study the material that best suits the group and the leader of the group. Well, that’s a reproducible process.
Once you’ve been through one of those groups, you know how it works, and you can take others through it yourself. Reproducibility it is probably the most important thing to learn about culture that church leaders can embrace.
How to Use Disciple-Making Culture with Your Group?
What I would do with Brandon’s book is have the church leaders read through it first. I would want to get all my leaders on board because this work of creating a culture is the big deal. It’s the ultimate work you’ve got to do.
Don’t settle for strategy. Don’t settle for goals. Don’t settle for techniques. Go for culture.
So I want all of my leaders to read it. I want us to process it. And then I want my small group — or in our case, my transformation groups — to work through and process with the leadership of the church.
Discipleship.org Forum 2024
In 2024 Discipleship.org is hosting a national forum on disciple-making, and the theme is actually Disciple-Making Culture. So we’re going to be encouraging people to read this book written by Brandon. And that I think it does a very good job of describing a culture of disciple-making and giving some ideas of how to establish that in your church.
Vital Information about Disciple Making Culture for Groups
- Chapter Count? 14 chapters
- Weeks of Study? 4–14 weeks
- Recommended size of group? 4–12 people
- Age of target audience? Adult
- Gender specific? No
- Reader difficulty? 4 out of 10
- Appropriate for New Believers? No
- What level of maturity does Disciple Making Culture assume? Readers who want to help lead in some capacity will benefit most from this book. Lay and staff leaders alike, not to mention elders, will greatly benefit from this book.
- Discussion questions in the book? No
- Homework required? Yes
- Video series available? Yes, a free, open-access course with fifteen videos and associated study guides. You can find it here.
Theology of Disciple Making Culture
- Theological red flags? No
- Denominationally specific content? No
- Author’s preferred Bible translation? NIV
- Publisher? Nashville, TN: HIM Publications, 2020
What Can Disciple Making Culture Accomplish for Your Group?
- Provides a practical how-to guide for cultivating a healthy disciple-making culture throughout your church
- Walks readers through key components of healthy culture
- Teaches a relational method for making disciples at your church that is built upon how Jesus and the early church made disciples
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