Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christby Greg Ogden
Discover the fullness of life in Christ.
We grow in Christ as we seek him together. Jesus' own pattern of disciple-making was to be intimately involved with others and allow life to rub against life. By gathering in twos or threes to study the Bible and encourage one another, we most closely follow Jesus' example with the
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A 2014 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist
Discover the fullness of life in Christ.
We grow in Christ as we seek him together. Jesus' own pattern of disciple-making was to be intimately involved with others and allow life to rub against life. By gathering in twos or threes to study the Bible and encourage one another, we most closely follow Jesus' example with the twelve disciples.
This workbook by Greg Ogden is a tool designed to help you follow this pattern Jesus drew for us. Working through it will deepen your knowledge of essential Christian teaching and strengthen your faith.
Each week contains the following elements:
a core truth presented in a question-answer formata memory verse and accompanying studya field-tested inductive Bible studya reading on the theme for the weekquestions to draw out key principles in the reading
This material is designed for groups of three. It has also been used successfully as an individual study program, a one-on-one discipling tool and small group curriculum.
Jesus had a big enough vision to think small. Focusing on a few did not limit his influence. Rather, it expanded it. Discipleship Essentials is designed to help us influence others as Jesus did--by investing in a few.
Second edition includes a new foreword by the author. These studies are for both individuals and groups.
Read an Excerpt
MEMORY VERSE: Matthew 28:18-20
BIBLE STUDY: Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-6, 10
READING: A Biblical Call to Making Disciples
What is discipling?
Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well.
1. Identify key words or phrases in the question and answer above, and state their meaning in your own words.
2. Restate the core truth in your own words.
3. What questions or issues does the core truth raise for you?
Memory Verse Study Guide
Jesus' mission statement for the church is to make disciples. These pivotal verses (Matthew 28:18-20) are commonly referred to as the Great Commission.
1. Putting it in context: Read Matthew 28. What key events precede Jesus' giving the Great Commission, and how would this have affected the disciples?
2. The memory verses are Matthew 28:18-20. Copy these verses verbatim.
3. What do these verses teach us about Jesus?
4. Why does Jesus stress his authority (v. 18) as a backdrop to his command to "make disciples"?
5. How is disciplemaking to becarried out?
6. When is a disciple made?
7. How have these verses spoken to you this week?
Inductive Bible Study Guide
Jesus always lived with a view to the end of his earthly ministry. The preparation of a few who would carry on his ministry after he ascended to the Father was ever before him. This Bible study focuses on the training and transference of ministry to his selected disciples.
1. Read Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-6, 10. What do you suppose Jesus included in his all-night prayer? (See the reading on page 20 for some ideas.)
2. What can you learn about Jesus' strategic purpose for the selection of the Twelve from 9:1-6?
3. What power and authority was given to the disciples? What power and authority can we expect to receive from Jesus today?
4. What was Jesus' role with the disciples after their return (9:10)?
5. What questions do these passages raise for you?
6. What verse or verses have particularly impacted you? Rewrite key verses in your own words.
Reading: A Biblical Call to Making Disciples
When Jesus commanded his disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), he spoke the mission statement for the church. Jesus told his disciples to do what he had done during his three years of ministry. Jesus made disciples by selecting a few into whom he poured his life.
Jesus' Method of Disciplemaking
What was the strategic advantage of having twelve men who would "be with him" (Mark 3:14)? There are many reasons, but two seem most relevant.
Internalization. By focusing on a few Jesus was able to ensure the lasting nature of his mission. We might wonder why Jesus would risk others' jealousy by publicly selecting twelve from a larger group of disciples (Luke 6:13). Why didn't Jesus simply continue to expand his growing entourage and create a mass movement? The apostle John captures Jesus' caution when people clamored to him because of the marvelous signs: "But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone" (John 2:24-25 NRSV).
Though Jesus ministered to the needs of the crowds, he knew they were fickle. The same ones who shouted "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday were shouting "Crucify him" five days later on Good Friday. Knowing the whims of the throng, Jesus built his ministry on a select few who would form the superstructure of his future kingdom. Disciples cannot be mass produced but are the product of intimate and personal investment.
A. B. Bruce summarizes this point: "The careful, painstaking education of the disciples secured that the Teacher's influence on the world should be permanent, that His Kingdom should be founded on deep and indestructible convictions in the minds of a few, not on the shifting sands of superficial impressions on the minds of many."
Multiplication. Just because Jesus focused much of his attention on a few does not mean that he did not want to reach the multitudes. Just the opposite. Eugene Peterson puts this truth cleverly: "Jesus, it must be remembered, restricted nine tenths of His ministry to twelve Jews, because it was the only way to reach all Americans."
Jesus had enough vision to think small. Focusing did not limit his influenceit expanded it. When Jesus ascended to the Father, he knew that there were at least eleven who could minister under the authority of his name, an eleven-fold multiplication of his ministry. Robert Coleman captures the heart of Jesus' methodology when he writes, "[Jesus'] concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes but with men the multitudes would follow."
Paul's Approach to Disciplemaking
We see that the apostle Paul adopted the same goal and methodology in his ministry that Jesus modeled. Paul's version of the Great Commission is his personal mission statement. "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works within me" (Colossians 1:28-29). Paul is so passionate about making disciples that he compares his agony over the maturity of the flock to the labor pains of a woman giving birth: "My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19).
Following Jesus' method, Paul invested in individuals to make disciples. He too had his sights on the multitudes, but he knew that solid transmission of the faith would not occur as readily through speaking to an audience. Paul encouraged Timothy to use a personal style to link the gospel to future generations when he exhorted him, "What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well" (2 Timothy 2:2 NRSV, emphasis added). Paul envisioned an intergenerational chain of disciples linked together through personal investment. Contained in this verse are generations in the discipling network, creating the following path: Paul > Timothy > faithful people > teach others.
We know Paul lived out this admonition, for his letters are filled with the names of those to whom he gave himself. Paul replaced himself in the battle with soldiers like Timothy, Titus, Silas (Silvanus), Euodia, Syntyche, Epaphroditus, Priscilla and Aquila. They accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys, were entrusted with ministry responsibility and became colaborers in the gospel. Paul attributed the change in their lives to the impact of the message of Christ in his life on them.
The Bible teaches us not only the message of our faith, but also the method by which that faith is to be passed on to future generations. We are called to do God's work in God's way. The manner in which the Lord works is incarnational: life rubs up against life. We pass on Christlikeness through intimate modeling. Paul said, "I urge you to imitate me" (1 Corinthians 4:16) and "You became imitators of us and of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
Disciplemaking ensures that the gospel is embedded deeply in the lives of mature believers who serve as links to the future. Discipling then is a relationship where we intentionally walk alongside a growing disciple or disciples in order to encourage, correct and challenge them in love to grow toward maturity in Christ.
This book brings together three ingredients necessary to produce maturity in Christ. Relational vulnerability means honest, self-disclosing and confessional relationships that give the Holy Spirit permission to remake us. Second, the centrality of truth is emphasized when people open their lives to one another around the truth of God's Word and the Lord begins to rebuild their lives from the inside out. And third, mutual accountability is authority given to others to hold us accountable to mutually agreeable standards"iron sharpening iron."
We will not make disciples through methods of mass production that attempt shortcuts to maturity. Robert Coleman clarifies the challenge: "One must decide where he wants his ministry to countin the momentary applause of popular recognition or the reproduction of his life in a few chosen men who will carry on his work after he has gone." The irony is that focusing on a few takes a long-range view by multiplying the number of disciples and therefore expands a church's leadership base. Though adult education programs and small group ministries are good tools to produce maturity, without the focus of small discipling units a solid foundation is difficult to build. Keith Phillips's chart compares the numeric difference between one person a day coming to Christ and one person a year being discipled to maturity.
Catch the vision and invest yourself now!
Reading Study Guide
1. What were Jesus' reasons for choosing twelve to be with him?
What can we learn from this about how to bring people to maturity in Christ?
2. How did Paul emulate Jesus' methodology?
3. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, "I urge you to imitate me" (4:16). Can you see yourself saying or living that? Why or why not?
4. What ingredients are necessary for an effective discipling relationship?
5. What questions do you have about the reading?
6. Does the reading convict, challenge or comfort you? Why?
Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1964. Summarize the eight-step process outlined in this classic.
Excerpted from Discipleship Essentials by Greg Ogden. Copyright © 1998 by Greg Ogden. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
What People are saying about this
Rev. Timothy J. Yee, minister of young adults, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, California
E. Stanley Ott, president, The Vital Churches Institute
Eddie Gibbs, professor, Fuller Theological Seminary and author of ChurchNext
Rev. Jane Filkin, associate pastor of community life, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, Colorado
Jan den Ouden, minister-at-large, OM International, Rotterdam
Hudson Staffield, president, Chi Rho Ministry
Meet the Author
Greg Ogden (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) recently retired from professional church leadership and now lives out his passion of speaking, teaching and writing about the disciple-making mission of the church. Most recently Greg served as executive pastor of discipleship at Christ Church of Oak Brook in the Chicago western suburbs. From 1998-2002, Greg held the position of director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller Theological Seminary and associate professor of lay equipping and discipleship.
Prior to teaching at Fuller, Greg enjoyed twenty-four years in pastoral ministry, primarily within Presbyterian churches, but also as senior pastor at the Saratoga Federated Church in the Silicon Valley, California. While there, he developed a discipleship program used by over 15,000 people and resulting in his book Discipleship Essentials and eventually the Essentials Series. Greg's other books include Unfinished Business and Transforming Discipleship.
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Greg Ogden has done a good job with this book. It is for small group study about discipling. It is set up in a similar manner to a Sunday School quarterly, which I think is acceptable since Sunday School would be one of the target markets for the text. The book itself is slightly oversized. The cover artwork is attractive, the text font is easy to read, and the pages have plenty of white space for a nice aesthetic for the interior. The book lacks an index. This might not be a major issue for small groups, but it is a negative from the scholarly angle. This lack of an index is why I deducted a star; I consider this a major flaw as I am coming from an academic point of view, and I think even small groups could benefit from an index. 25 sections deals with one-on-one and small group discipling: how to be and help others be more like Christ. Memory verses, questions, and short articles, generally 4-5 pages each, combine to create a viable small group study. Ogden has laid out the material in a clear way that is easy to understand. Of course, how the study plays out will vary from group to group, but I think Ogden has achieved his purpose of creating a manual providing a good overview of discipleship and its importance in the Christian life. This book is highly recommended for small group and one-on-one discipling. This is not the best book for scholarly study on the subject, but it does have some value in this area as the basics of the theme are well-covered and technical terms explained. Overall, Ogden has written a worthy book.