Organic Discipleship By Dennis McCallum & Jessica Lowery

Organic Discipleship

By: Dennis McCallum & Jessica Lowery

ISBN: 978-0-9836681-07

READ: December 2018

RATING: 10/10

Summary: Practical, detailed, and written out of vast experience, this is the best book on disciple making that I’ve read in a decade. The authors unpack the reasons for making disciples and exactly what it takes to make one. They get into a level of detail that’s the fruit of vast experience. While many books are content to write about the why, they write about the how…and they do so well. My only critique of the book is their persistent use of the phrase “your disciple”. I know this is picky, but I encourage people NOT to use that phrase because we are making disciples of Christ and our language can lead us to view them as ours instead of His. Other than that picky detail, this book is amazing! Find a free study guide HERE.

Chapter titles are: Section 1: 1. Understanding What is Discipleship? 2. Discipleship Overview 3. Getting Started Section Two: Key Components in Discipleship 4. Friendship Building 5. Modeling 6. Imparting a Love of Scripture 7. Prayer I Getting Started 8. Prayer II Ministry & Prayer 9. Counseling 10. Encountering Lack of Progress: Discerning What to Do 11. Encountering Lack of Progress: Practicing Discipline in Love Section Three: Coaching 12. Early Ministry Development 13. Moving Toward Independence 14.Coaching Group Leadership 15 Releasing: Preparation 16. Releasing: The Transition 17. Leading Disciple Makers


“Christians today are reawakening to the power of an organic approach to ministry; an approach that focuses less on positions in the church and more on relationships.” Pg. xiii

“…making disciples is the most natural and relational way to expand and deepen the body of Christ.” xiv

Chapter 1: What is Discipleship?

“Sophists and philosophers in Greece had disciples.” Pg. 3

“The process of discipleship was a complete shaping of a new rabbi—a passing on of everything the rabbi had; his character, his knowledge, his values, and his wisdom.” Pg. 4

“The idea was to produce a certain kind of person. The intensive personal attention involved in this style of training dictated that a rabbi focus on no more than a few disciples at a time.” Pg. 4

“Paul….also made disciples…..According to Acts 9:25, it was ‘his disciples’ who lowered him.” Pg. 5

“In the New Testament church, which had no seminaries or graduate schools of theology, they apparently raised up all of their leadership by a process of personal discipleship. Considering that this means is frequently mentioned, and considering the absence of any mention of any other means for raising up leaders, we can only suppose that discipleship was not just the main means, but the only means used to that end.” Pg. 6

“To achieve true multiplication growth, the duplication of individuals and churches must go forward without degradation. If the quality of disciple or churches declines at all with each duplication even, the whole process breaks down very quickly….Balancing quality with the speed of growth in movements is difficult.” Pg. 9

“Discipleship and church planting movements are intimately linked. Discipleship is a mean sof leadership development that permits multiplication, because it doesn’t require feeding leaders through a central hub, like a seminary or Bible school.” Pg. 11

“Just as the key to church planting movements is that churches duplicate themselves, the key to church duplication is that individuals duplicate themselves. And individual duplication is the process of personal discipleship. This is why, before any church planting movement can appear, discipleship must precede it.” Pg. 11

“George Barna documents the sad fact that the church in America talks a great deal about discipleship, but doesn’t practice it very often. The result of this omission is that church-going Christians today often manifest shallow commitment, biblical ignorance, and inability to do advanced Christian ministry.” Pg. 16

Chapter 2: The Call to the Kingdom of God

“Making disciples is an intensely creative process, and God is able to use all kinds of people for the task. Organic discipleship is creative discipleship.” Pg. 21

“No two disciples are alike, and no two disciple makers are alike.” Pg. 21

“Because discipleship is creative, we will not offer a curriculum or lesson plan in this book. Instead of a curriculum we offer goals and examples that should stimulate your creativity.” Pg. 21

“To summarize our goals for discipleship include radical change in: Character, Understanding, Ministry Capability.” Pg. 23

“A key reason we reject the purely corporate vision of discipleship is pragmatic. Consider the saying, ‘Everybody’s job is nobody’s job.’ Our studies show that in church after church where the corporate vision for discipleship is advanced over against the idea that individual discipleship, people are simply not being discipled.” Pg. 25

“Paul wanted to see evidence that God was using the person and that the person could handle the rigors of ministry before recognizing him as a leader.” Pg. 27

“A discipleship process that results in people learning how to read and memorize scripture, pray, and witness is a good start. But we need to go much deeper if we plan on developing leaders and role models in the church who can be trusted to care for groups of people.” Pg. 27

Chapter 3: Getting Started

“Building a friendship and trying to influence and instruct another within that friendship is exactly the kind of ministry best suited to young Christians.” Pg. 31

“If you succeed in discipleship, your disciples will win others they can disciple, because part of discipling is helping disciples win their own disciples.” Pg. 32

“Some Christians feel unqualified to disciple because nobody ever discipled them. This is wrong. Many of us (including Dennis) were never formally discipled and have been able to do quite well. The difference between believers who were discipled and those who weren’t is often how long it took to mature. Those of us who didn’t benefit from discipleship may have grown much more slowly than we would have if a good disciple maker had helped us. But our growth is just as valid as anyone else’s.” Pg. 32

“Nobody is happy when discipleship fails, including the failing disciple.” Pg. 33

“Discipleship, as we are using the term, refers to a training and facilitating process aimed at helping Christians reach maturity and fruitfulness.” Pg. 33

“We should only disciple those fully involved in Christian fellowship.” Pg. 34

“Robert Coleman argues that a willing heart, or loyalty to Christ is the premiere feature to look for in a prospective disciple. This may well be true, but willingness should not always be interpreted as compliance. Sometimes ornery people make good disciples, and they may become entrepreneurial leaders capable of feats that compliant people are unlikely to achieve. We would not avoid discipling someone just because he argues or seems hard to persuade at times. And at the other extreme, man-pleasers can be very problematic as disciples.” Pg. 35

“In our opinion, you should look for a doer.” Pg. 35

“And spiritual hunger should be a premium feature when it comes to picking a disciple.” Pg. 39

“A person who has manifest consistent hunger for the things fo God is an almost irresistible opportunity for experienced disciplers.” Pg. 39

“Disciples have to see where the process is headed before they are likely to give their all to growth and maturity. As a discipler, you can impart this sense of vision to your disciple. In this context, vision refers to a picture of what your disciple could become—how his life could be enhanced by becoming all that God has in mind for him.” Pg. 41

“Achieving a sense of vision for disciples can be a lengthy struggle.” Pg. 43

Chapter 4: Friendship Building

“The first step in successful discipleship is forming a good friendship.” Pg.49

“If you can make a good friend, then you should be able to disciple. On the other hand, the inability to form close friendships is an absolute barrier to effectiveness in disciple making.” Pg. 49

“This means that if we are going to love others as Christ loved us, we have to be ready to take the initiative.” Pg. 51

“The successful initiator has to expend emotional energy and creativity finding ways to reach out to another.” Pg. 51

“Good initiators who know how to raise questions and carefully listen to the answers cut through the awkwardness and make people feel understood.” Pg. 53

“Friendships require time….You must be prepared to invest time developing common ground with a new friend…..The best kind of time is that spent one-on-one.” Pg. 55

“However, if we wait for others to initiate, we will make very poor progress in friendship building.” Pg. 59

“You are always aware that you have no guarantee that your project will work, even if you spend several years and give all you have. No wonder many Christian leaders are unwilling to disciple! Any Christian minister who is hooked on quick, highly visible results in ministry will turn away from discipleship.” Pg. 61

“Part of the sacrificial aspect of Christian love is the extensive time and emotional investment in agonized prayer.” Pg. 65

“If you learn how to love people fervently from the heart, you will probably do well as a disciple maker.” Pg. 67

Chapter 5: Modeling

“Books and talks can teach a lot, but some things are better learned through imitation. You can transmit attitudes and values best through modeling.” Pg. 69

“Only when people are close to someone who actually lives that way do they truly grasp the meaning, let alone feel drawn to do the same.” Pg. 70

“Jesus was the ultimate example of modeling.” Pg. 70

“…if Jesus isn’t Lord at all then He isn’t Lord at all. Anyone who wants to follow Jesus but comes with contingencies—family, economic goals, or the preservation of one’s own life—is profoundly distrusting God in his heart.” Pg. 71

“Unsalty salt is like pop with no fizz; nobody wants to drink it.” Pg. 72

“Disciple makers who hold back from God in one area produce disciples who hold back in ten areas.” Pg. 72

“If you long to see yourself count for God in this life, realize that commitment is the gateway to effectiveness. Full commitment to Christ cannot be sidestepped or diminished if we want to be effective models.” Pg. 73

“Any disciple maker who thinks it’s enough to tell or show a disciple once how to do something is quite naïve. Only after multiple repetitions can we expect disciples to pick up on our modeling in meaningful ways.” Pg. 74

“If disciples sense you are serving self rather than God and others, they may well become suspicious about everything you do.” Pg 78

“On the other hand, if your disciples see you handle your opponents and critics graciously and fairly, their desire to imitate your example will grow, especially if they hear you pray for your opponents.” Pg. 78

“When disciples see you suffering without becoming bitter or defeated, they feel challenged. How can someone continue to trust God, even giving thanks, when she is in pain?” pg. 83

“Leaders make it their business to be motivators.” Pg. 84

“Instead of teaching disciples what to think, you need to teach them how to think.” Pg. 85

“Remember your value as a model is relative. No model is perfect.” Pg. 86

“In a hundred different areas, modeling shapes the outlook and behavior of disciples.” Pg. 87

Chapter 6: Imparting a Love of Scripture

“In our experience, many disciplers put too little emphasis on Bible study with their disciples.” Pg. 90

“According to Peter, scripture should be as important to us as milk is to a newborn [1 Peter 2:2].” Pg. 91

“Nothing will convince people that God’s way is right more than studying scripture.” Pg. 93

“Knowing the Bible also gives us credibility with other people.” Pg. 93

“We consistently find that disciples who lack a high view of scripture never go far in their faith.” Pg. 97

“A key need in most disciples is motivation: getting to the point where they regularly feel the need to study the word for themselves.” Pg. 97

Chapter 7: Prayer 1 - Getting Started

“Our disciples won’t go far spiritually unless they become men and women of prayer.” Pg. 104

“Your first step is to get your disciple to pray with you.” Pg. 105

“We find that frequent shorter prayers are better than infrequent, long prayers. Like any personal relationship, you don’t save up everything you have to sat and dump it in a long monologue once a day. It’s more natural to speak to God as you go.” Pg. 105

“James [4:2] makes it clear that when we pray we have th potential to change the course of eternity.” Pg. 106

“Your experience with God is one of the most powerful tools you have in impressing young believers with the truth. Such stories are far more powerful than we might expect.” Pg. 107

“When God calls us to give thanks and praise, he does so not just because that’s what we should be doing. Thanksgiving is also the medicine that has the power to heal that dark inner core of selfishness. Yes, that’s right: thanksgiving is not just he result of a change of heart; it can actually be a key cause of heart change.” Pg. 110

Chapter 8: Prayer 2 - Ministry and Prayer

“Over time you must convince your disciple that talking to people about God is even more important than talking to people about God.” Pg. 114

“When you pray for others with your disciples, you teach them through your modeling that God’s power is our only hope in witnessing, preaching, counseling, and motivating others.” Pg. 114

“Make sure you reserve time each week to ask God questions about the people you will be leading.” Pg. 115

“Just as God wants to foster thanksgiving, Satan tries to foster discontent with what God provides and anxiety about whether he will provide in the future.” Pg. 120

“Alertness is important because of the stealth of Satan….Perseverance is important because Satan is relentless.” Pg. 122

Chapter 9: Counseling

“Experienced disciple makers know that character and personal problems block disciples’ progress more than anything else.” Pg. 125

“No discipler should see himself as the only source of help for a disciple, but should draw on any and all venues through which God may work.” Pg. 128

“Rather than try to move people from Stage 1 to Stage 4 (which could be legalism), we need to identify the underlying belief structures that fuel the person’s pattern of sin.” Pg. 130

“Conflict provides one of the best areas to develop and display the character of Christ.” Pg. 130

“As a disciple maker you will need to counsel and train your disciples in mature conflict management early and often. We routinely study Ken Sande’s excellent book The Peacemaker with disciples.” Pg. 131

“You should teach your disciples to avoid becoming hard-liners who terrorize those around them, or the will never become effective servants of God.” Pg. 133

“A disciple who is equipped and trained in godly conflict management stands heads and shoulders above most Christians in ability to work effectively with people.” Pg. 134-135

“We need to convince our disciple that failure to forgive from the heart is one of the real serious sins a person can commit.” Pg. 139

“God calls on Christians to forgive everyone for anything.” Pg. 139

“Your goal is clear: helping the person reach a point where he can build and maintain deep relationships, including a successful family. Unless he reaches this point, he is too immature to lead in the church.” Pg. 142

“Therefore, you should continually seek out God, asking for a positive vision for disciples who struggle in these areas. God has a vision for them and we must adopt that vision as our own.” Pg. 142

Typical areas to counsel are: Marriage, avarice, bad habits, etc.

“Scientists who study how people learn have proven that positive reinforcement is far more powerful than punishment for effective lasting change in people.” Pg. 154

“Encouragement has one limitation: it is highly effective in sustaining action, but far less so at initiating action. In other words, you have to catch your disciple ‘doing something right’ before you can use encouragement effectively. If you encourage your disciples even though they haven’t acted, you are practicing flattery, which works against motivation.” Pg. 154

“Even when disciples take positive action, you shouldn’t always encourage them. The most important time to encourage is at the beginning.” Pg. 155

“Scientists have demonstrated that intermittent reinforcement actually leads to higher levels of motivation in the long run than constant affirmation.” Pg. 155

Chapter 10: Encountering Lack of Progress - Discerning What to Do

“You also have to be willing to directly call on people for change.” Pg. 160

“Notice that both Jesus and Paul challenged people directly when necessary.” Pg. 160

“Oswald Sanders argues that the ability to secure compliance without a show of authority is a good leader. But such indirect leadership doesn’t always work.” Pg. 160

“Too many disciple makers are squeamish about pulling the trigger when it comes to making an unambiguous, direct call for action.” Pg. 162

“Leaders who are afraid to make a call strong enough to create tension become ‘soft disciplers’ who consistently see very poor results in discipleship. You aren’t doing your disciples any favors by failing to raise the tension in your relationship at key points when a change in life direction is essential.” Pg. 163

“Disciple makers who refuse to discipline become ‘soft’ disciplers. We already argued that soft disciplers are among the worst at being able to foster life change in a disciple. We all desperately need to be reproved at certain points in our lives, and nobody is in a better position to meet this need than a caring discipler who has invested in the relationship over time.” Pg. 171

Chapter 11: Encountering a Lack of Progress - Discipline in Love

“Discipline in love is biblical, and it does work—but not always. In some cases, even after a lengthy struggle over a serious issue, your disciple may remain essentially unchanged.” Pg. 189

“Disciples who refuse to repent usually don’t enjoy spending time with someone whose very presence reminds them of their problems.” Pg. 190

“Discipline often tends to ‘polarize’ people. In other words, while some move closer to God, others are hardened in rebellion and actually get worse.” Pg. 190

“Discipleship is not a right but a privilege.” Pg. 192

“While it may hurt both of you, we believe disciple makers with integrity will put their discipling relationship on the line in such cases and be willing to lose the disciple rather than compromise with serious sin.” Pg. 193

Chapter 12: Early Ministry Development

“Ministry to others provides a powerful incentive for spiritual growth. Those who fail to minister cannot understand why they should be zealous to strive and even suffer for the sake of growth.” Pg. 197

“However, not all Christians realize that ministry is also a means of growth, no less important than any of the others.” Pg. 199

“Ministry is also a vital link to God and a crucial component in the healthy growth and happiness of any Christian.” Pg. 200

“Giving ourselves to others in ways calculated to benefit them is ministry. All the passages that stress the centrality of love in the Christian life are really stressing the importance of ministry.” Pg. 200

“Ministry also creates an outlet and an unselfish purpose for the other means of growth. Apart from ministry, people tend to view prayer, Bible study, and fellowship as mainly self-serving.” Pg. 201

“Disciple makers could hardly be happy with a disciple who rarely or never prayed. Why should we be happy, when such an omission would completely wreck their efforts to grow spiritually? Yet some disciplers seem to see little problem when they work with disciple who never, or rarely, give themselves away in ministry. This is wrong. Instead, we should see our disciple-making task as incomplete and indeed pointless unless it issues in ‘faith expressing itself through love.’ Paul says this is, ‘all that counts’ (Gal. 5:6)” Pg 201

“Your disciples need firm convictions that ministry is God’s will for them, that it is doable, that it is essential, and that their Christian lives will be impoverished without it.” Pg. 202

“You don’t want your disciple to be too focused on whether people are converted. When disciples become too results-focused they become timid. They are afraid of saying something wrong or seeming too pushy. Disciple who are more focused on getting more opportunities to share end up talking more, and are more likely to see success as well.” Pg. 204 [context of witnessing]

“We find that most disciples who are witnessing and trying to build up other believers soon come to love ministry.” Pg. 206

“Hunger for learning grows rapidly in a ministering believer.” Pg. 206

“it’s good to teach ministry principles and methods. But we suggest first getting believers to try serving, and then teaching them principles and methods as they struggle forward. This way they will understand the principles at a deep level.” Pg. 207

“If your disciples succeed in leading someone to Christ (particularly someone of the same sex) you should encourage them to see it as their responsibility to nurture further growth.” Pg. 211

“By learning how to nurture a new Christian, your disciple learns critical ministry skills that will be useful for a lifetime.” Pg. 211

Chapter 13: Moving Towards Independence

“Unless you intentionally foster independence in your disciples, you may create an illusion of growth based on them complying in order to please you. This type of mentoring will not result in multiplication, because once you are out of the picture, the disciple loses motivation and direction. You want your disciples to become independent, in that they have their own convictions and function well apart from you.” Pg. 213

“As your disciples grow your role changes. Instead of seeking to stimulate action, you realize the disciple is already motivated to act.” Pg. 214

“Most new disciple makers need lots of advice on what to study, how to motivate, when to move to the next level, and when to confront. Their discernment is questionable.” Pg. 215

“Your questioning plays an important role in reminding the discipler of key steps he may otherwise forget.” Pg. 215

“Experienced disciple makers are able to lay plans instinctively. They sense where disciples are at, and know what they need much of the time. But new disciple makers don’t have this ability. They’re not sure how to assess their disciples, and they haven’t developed the instincts needed for good planning.” Pg. 216

Typical conversations you may need to have with your inexperienced disciple maker: 1. Patience 2. Perception 3. Negativity 4. General Encouragement. Pg 218-219

“Yet, even though he [Jesus] gave them direction, you still see enormous responsibility and freedom he gave the disciples. Jesus trusted that if his followers understood the big picture, along with some specific directions, they would figure out the rest.” Pg. 220

On Vision: “First, he explained their mission in a way they could visualize….Second, Jesus helped them anticipate the potential failures they might face….Lastly, Jesus looks beyond the natural world into the spiritual world.” Pg. 221

“Humans learn best through practice. As disciple makers, we can help our disciples practice ministry in two ways: role-playing and beginning actual ministry.” Pg. 222

“Disciple makers who practice goal-setting with disciples usually have fun and see exciting results, especially when goals are understood under grace.” Pg. 223

“The ability to persuade is of pivotal importance to every Christian worker.” Pg. 223

“Persuasion is not manipulation. Good persuasion involves effective use of Scripture rather than out-of-context proof-texting.” Pg. 224

“Not only should you hope to be persuasive with your disciples, you also should try to teach them how to be persuasive with those they serve.” Pg. 225

Chapter 14: Coaching Group Leadership

“We believe the best way to move a person into leadership is to first learn to lead one another person.” Pg. 229

“If you put people up to teach and lead who have not witnessed or taken on private ministry like discipleship, you are presenting the church with models who are inadequate and will send mixed messages to members.” Pg. 229

Process of developing leaders is 1. Teach and lead yourself. 2. Teach and lead one or more others. 3. Teach the public.

Chapter 15: Releasing - Preparation

“If our disciples are ot survive and flourish in leadership, they must develop a clear understanding and dependence on God’s part in ministry….In the first place, God wants to direct our ministries.” Pg. 240

“Secondly, God wants to empower our ministries.” Pg. 241

“Why does God let failure come to sincere servants? Be sure to consider this question with your disciples before they actually experience failure, so they will know how to think about it when it comes. From failure we learn to be effective.” Pg. 244

“Through failure we learn dependence on God (2 Cor. 11:30-33).” Pg. 244

“Through failure we deepen our discernment.” Pg. 245

“Through failure we learn how to minister under grace.” Pg. 245

“Through failure we develop deep spiritual convictions about ministry.” Pg. 245

“Failure separates the quitters from the servants.” Pg. 246

“Leaders inexperienced in failure not only fear failure in themselves, but also in others.” Pg. 246

“Those who dread failure will tend towards conservatism that seeks to protect the existing ministry rather than open new ministry. When the church becomes conservative and self-protective, it loses the offensive spirit needed in spiritual war. We find ourselves unable to penetrate tough sectors of the non-Christian community.” Pg. 247

“The experience of failure is always crisis, because Satan will move in and suggest God let them down, or that they are unworthy for such work.” Pg. 247

“Leaders are regularly battered by circumstances, by Satan, and by their own people.” Pg. 247

“most people are suspicious of leaders anyway, and will test leaders by threatening not to follow. Only when they see that a leader can’t be manipulated will they realize their choice is to follow or to take their chances elsewhere.” Pg. 248

“If we succeed in discipleship, we work ourselves out of a job.” Pg. 249

Chapter 16: Releasing - The Transition

Chapter 17: Leading Disciple Makers

“Some self-starters have such clarity of vision that they continue to work hard even without any encouragement from others. But many people lose their way unless leaders periodically call them back to their foundations. When we leave people alone, we can expect most of them to see a gradual decline in their zeal and focus. The same people, if skillfully led, will grow in competence and fruitfulness.” Pg. 256

“Good upper-level leaders know how to re-cast vision when they gather their colleagues for a meeting.” Pg. 257

“Upper level leaders are in a good position to foster fellowship among disciple makers.” Pg. 259

“Equipping those who are actually doing the work of ministry is one of the most strategic things pastors and top leaders can do with their time.” Pg. 261

“I find that more than anything else, lack of free time to disciple and train are the result of pastors’ own lack of priority for this area.” Pg. 261 footnote

“Motivating people to give their lives for disciple making is not a simple proposition. Yet, in many churches, successful disciple making is never publicly recognized.” Pg. 263

“Personal disciple making and the relationships associated with it have the potential to completely revolutionize any group.” Pg. 266

“The real question is whether Christians should love one another, and whether loving one another implies discipling one another. According to Jesus, it does. And we should be satisfied with that.” Pg. 266