Book Review - 12/23/13

Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples, Robby Gallaty with Randall Collins, 2013, Crossbooks, Bloomington, Ind., ISBN 9781462729983, 253 pages, $14.99, softcover.

It would be a shame for a magazine called Disciple to miss the chance to review for our readers a great new book on discipleship. Especially since that book is written by a personal and ministry friend who has written articles for us before and partnered with our parent organization, AMG International, for conferences, mission trips, and more. I've known Robby Gallaty almost since he first came to Chattanooga over 5 years ago; his church is less than a mile from my house, and several neighbors and co-workers are members there.

Because of that relationship, it's hard to separate the material in Growing Up from the context, and that may be its greatest strength. I just read the book this month, but I've watched Robby and his church family put the things written here into practice for a long time. The folks at Brainerd Baptist are digging deeper into the Word and training one another to be disciples who make disciples, and that commitment visibly spills over into winsome community outreach and growing passion for proclaiming the Gospel to the unreached around the world.

The book itself is structured as a manual of sorts, giving new believers or novice disciple-makers a toolkit for gathering a discipleship group and helping one another "grow up into salvation" (1 Pet. 2:2). Gallaty opens the book with his personal testimony of how God rescued him from his life as a nominal Catholic drug addict and dealer and used discipleship by faithful men to lead him into spiritual growth and a passion for discipling others.

From there through the first half of the book, he introduces his plan to engage readers in disciple-making, calling them away from "church business-as-usual" and into zealous obedience to Christ's final command to "make disciples of all nations", differentiating disciple-making from both evangelism and participation in corporate worship and teaching. Taking cues from Jesus' investment in Peter, James, and John, Gallaty frames his appeal around what he calls the D-group model (discipleship clusters of 3-5 individuals) as a better tool for fostering honesty and spiritual growth than either one-on-one mentoring or larger Bible Study groups. He reminds readers that commitment, perseverance, and accountability are as much keys to spiritual growth as they are to our physical health and urges them to apply spiritual disciplines within their discipleship groups.

The second half of the book unpacks these disciplines through six chapters built on the acronym C.L.O.S.E.R.-Communicate (prayer), Learn (Bible study), Obey (pursuing godliness), Store (Scripture memorization), Evangelize (proclaiming the Gospel to unbelievers), and Renew (journaling to help digest your Bible reading, prayer, and spiritual growth). Gallaty also includes several appendices that offer concrete examples of how to put each of these disciplines into practice.

There is a lot of meat here, and the fast-paced style effectively communicates Robby's desire to see men and women of the Church move toward greater Christ-likeness and to pass that fervor on to others "who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). As such, it is more exhortation than exposition, and a bit farther down the "how-to" spectrum than I personally prefer. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. This material in this format is precisely what will draw a lot of people to this book and help them grow in Christian maturity.

Most importantly, it is distanced from so many other "how-to" books on spiritual growth and discipline from Christian publishers in that it is anchored in Scripture and sound wisdom (in the vein of Murray, Tozer, and Don Whitney), challenging and teaching readers to love one another enough to go deep with each other into the faith and strengthen the Body of Christ to be fruitful and multiply.

Justin Lonas

Target: All
Type: Discipleship/Christian Living
Take: Recommended 

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