Read Bobby Harrington’s review of the Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual by Jim Putman, Avery Willis, Brandon Guindon, and Bill Krause’s to help you decide about using it for your group.
In this post, Bobby Harrington and I review Jim Putman’s book Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual. Bobby is founder and CEO of Renew.org and Discipleship.org. You’ll get the main message of the book, Bobby’s three biggest takeaways, and vital information about using this book in a group.
You can also read last week’s blog on the Real-Life Discipleship book.
The main message of this book: people grow as disciples through phases. They go from the infant stage to the child stage, to the young adult stage, and then to the parent stage.
Three Big Takeaways
Bobby Harrington offers his three biggest takeaways from Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual.
1. The Stages of Growth
Most of us in disciple-making don’t often think about the stages of growth. We don’t think in terms of the fact that we’re helping people move from where they are to where God wants them to be next. This book explains how to think about those phases in biblical categories.
2. Getting Down to the Micro Level
This book is really good at getting into the micro concepts of disciple-making.
In other words, how does a small child think? You can be a Christian for 20 years and still be a child in how you think because you think life revolves around you. You might think like a consumer; you think about what you like and what you want.
This book shows you the things in Scripture and in life that would make you more mature.
So going through the micro details of each of the phases of spiritual maturity is very helpful when you’re trying to think, Okay, how can I get better at discipling people?
Whether it be helping someone move from infant to child — or even before that, if they are non-believers — I want them to cross the line and be born again and then become infants, then grow from infant to child, child to young adult, and young adult to spiritual parent.
So the micro skills for small-group leaders in this book are fantastic.
3. Mastering the Concepts of a Spiritual Parent
As a spiritual parent and as a disciple of Jesus, I want to understand how to think about the spiritual infant and the spiritual young adult and the steps they need to take. I want to think about everybody in my small group as somebody who I’m helping to grow to the next phase.
So when I understand these concepts, and when I have the sort of the micro understanding of them right away, then if I’m discipling a small group, I can know where my people are at because I’ve been equipped by carefully working through the details in this book.
That equipping and that knowledge make me a more effective disciple maker.
How to Use Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual With Your Group
The primary vehicle for discipling — a strategy that’s used at Real Life Ministries and should be used in most churches in North America — is a small group strategy.
When I say “small group,” I’m talking about a group of somewhere around 12 people, male and female, who typically meet weekly. In many churches, these groups follow the sermon.
This is an ideal book to train your small-group leaders. When churches come to me and ask what the best discipling book for small-group leaders in a local church is, I think about The Disciple Maker’s Handbook and this book, Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual.
This is a really good go-to book to train all your small-group leaders both in the system of disciple-making and in the key concepts for discipling.
A lot of people think that the purpose of a small group is just to have fellowship, to get people together and have an enjoyable time. The truth of the matter is that that’s not a very good purpose for small groups. The core mission of the church is disciple-making, so the core mission of a small group should be disciple-making.
After you go through it as a small-group leader, you might want to go through it with your group, or you might not. I think it all depends on your small group’s context.
I took my small group through this book a couple of years ago, and I think it was helpful. But some people don’t like the rigor of having to spend time between meetings working through a workbook.
So you’ll just have to assess: Will the people in your group give you an hour and 15 minutes outside the group to work through it each time?
Vital Information about Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual for Groups
- Chapter Count? 60 chapters
- Weeks of Study? 12 weeks
- Recommended size of group? 8–14 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 Real Life Discipleship Training Manual assume? This book is good for small-group leaders or Christians who are ready to disciple others into spiritual parenthood.
- Discussion questions in the book? Yes
- Homework required? Yes
- Video series available? No
Theology of Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual
- Theological red flags? No
- Denominationally specific content? No
- Author’s preferred Bible translation? NIV
- Publisher? Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2010
What Can Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual Accomplish for Your Group?
- Helps you discover a new vision for your small-group ministry by thinking about how you make disciples
- Explains the necessary components of disciple-making so that every church member can play a part in reaching others for Christ
- Helps small-group leaders develop the heart of a disciple maker
- Teaches you what a disciple is, how disciples grow, and how to be an intentional leader
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