BOOK REVIEW – Contagious disciple-making

An explosion of discipleship

‘God, I can’t plant churches anymore. I didn’t sign on to love people, train people, and get them killed.’ pxi

God answered David Watson’s prayer with a Church Planting Movement that saw 80,000 churches planted among a people group in Asia. In this challenging book, David and his son, Paul, outline the guiding principles and practices which they believe lead to Disciple Making Movements. They define this to mean sustainable movements of disciples making disciples, ideally eventually leading to Church Planting Movements.

These movements can result in explosive growth, but the authors warn that this is not because it is a quick process — far from it. Instead, disciple making requires long term investment in people, as they make clear throughout the book.

‘Prayer isn’t about twisting God’s arm to get Him to do what you think He should. It’s about aligning your heart and mind with God’s. Prayer is about spending enough time with God that you see His vision for His city and His people.’ p84

Crossing barriers of culture

The book is divided into two parts: the first half outlines the mind-set of a disciple-maker, showing the general principles behind their approach; the second half looks at the practices of a disciple-maker, giving more detailed practical advice. The authors’ conclusions are often challenging, even occasionally to the point of seeming harsh, but there is much to consider.

The heart behind their radical method is to break down every barrier of culture and let people discover Scripture for themselves. Whilst aspects of their assumptions are debatable, the results have been extraordinary and hugely encouraging.

Inspiring, challenging and equipping

In the practical section of the book, there is as high emphasis on the prayerful mentoring of disciples and the creation of new leaders. This leans heavily on the use of ‘Discovery Groups’: small Bible study groups led by members of the community. Again, whilst such a model may have its drawbacks and may not work in all settings, the rapid increase of new believers is hard to argue with.

In conclusion, if you can be patient with some of the more challenging assertions made within it, this book is a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone seeking to spread the gospel in cross-cultural ministry.

‘When a new disciple asks a question, my answer is always the same: What must you do to be obedient to Christ? I may have to help that person find the appropriate passages in the Bible to answer the question, but the question always remains the same.’ p15


Full title: Contagious Disciple-Making: Leading Others On A Journey Of Discovery
Author: David Watson and Paul Watson
Publishers: Thomas Nelson, 2014

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