Discipleshift: Jim Putnam, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Coleman

discipleshiftDiscipleshift is a ministry altering book, especially for anyone who is looking to align their ministry with the Great Commission: making disciples who make disciples. This book reminds the reader of the importance of disciple-making as the primary work of the church. Throughout, Putnam gives practical insight  into how make disciples in a local church context. Many other discipleship books stress the importance of discipleship but fail to give an answer to the question of “how do we do this in a local church?” Discipleshift answers that question.

What is a disciple? Putnam starts by defining a disciple as someone who is following Christ, being changed by Christ, and committed to the mission of Christ. This is the head, heart, hands paradigm of discipleship. Putnam identifies that this kind of discipleship must happen in biblical relationships. It cannot and does not happen alone. God has planned that we grow through relationships.

The goal of relational discipleship is to help a believer grow in the following areas:

  1. In his relationship with God
  2. In his relationship with God’s family, the church
  3. In his home life
  4. in his relationship to the world

Growing disciples that are following Christ in each of these spheres is the mission of the church. Putnam argues that consistent vision from the leadership and  good small groups are integral in making disciples in the church. It is important that the church maintains the principle of alignment, the idea that every aspect of the church must have disciple-making as its goal. Every ministry must seek to ultimately connect people to the work of discipleship in the church. One of the best ways to connect people is to connect them to small groups that are:

  • a place where shepherding takes place
  • a place where real teaching takes place with Q&A, modeling, and stories
  • a place where authenticity and accountability are encouraged and modeled

These small groups must have leaders who have the same vision for disciple-making. Leaders must always be looking for other leaders to train, disciple, and develop into future leaders who can train others. With this clear goal of discipleship, relational environments, and leaders who are intentional, disciples can be consistently and effectively made in the local church. Putnam dives further into how to develop leaders, build small group communities, and foster this culture of discipleship in the church. It is a great resource for any pastor, church leader, or layman looking to enhance the way the local church pursues the great work of discipleship- in which every one is involved.


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