Everyone is being discipled. The question is: what is discipling us?
The majority of Christians today are being discipled by popular media, flashy events, and folk theology because churches have neglected their responsibility to make disciples. But the church is not a secondary platform in the mission of God; it is the primary platform God uses to grow people into the image of Jesus. Therefore, as church leaders, it is our primary responsibility to establish environments and relationships where people can be trained, grow, and be sent as disciples.
There are three indispensable elements of discipleship:
Learning to participate in the biblical story (the Bible)
Growing in our confession of who God is and who we are (theology)
Regularly participating in private and corporate intentional action (spiritual disciplines)
Deep Discipleship equips churches to reclaim the responsibility of discipling people at any point on their journey.
Deep Discipleship sample chapterdownload
Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write it?
For too long, the local church has played a secondary role in the formation of God’s people. Over the past few decades seminaries, bible colleges, non-profits, and other ministries have become where God’s people have to go in order to grow in the understanding of the Word and what it means to follow Christ.
I believe with all of my heart that the primary context for Christian discipleship is the local church. God has commissioned and ordained his church to be the place where, by the power of the Spirit, he forms his people into the image of the Son. It is time for local churches to remember their calling as the primary place God forms deep disciples.
For whom did you write this book?
I wrote this book for anyone who is passionate about discipleship. I hope pastors, ministry leaders, and serious Christians will pick up this book and implement deep discipleship in their local contexts.
What do you mean by a “holistic” approach to discipleship? How is that different than what most people consider when they think of “discipleship”?
Deep discipleship is holistic discipleship. God cares about the whole person, not just our head or our heart or our soul or our strength, but God cares equally, and wants to form our head, heart, soul, and strength. If we are whole people, we need discipleship models that form the whole person and that best happens in the local church.
How is this book different from other discipleship resources and books?
I think Deep Discipleship is different because it does not just say deep discipleship matters, but it provides a way forward for every church. It does not offer a playbook for every church to adopt, but it offers a set of better questions – questions that will give us better answers for our local contexts.
What are the two or three greatest hindrances to creating deep disciples in our churches today?
The greatest hindrance to deep discipleship is the shallow versions of Christianity that we have become accustomed to.
What are the two or three most important things church leaders can do immediately to begin creating deep disciples in their churches?
If you want more participation in your church you need to raise the bar, don’t lower it. We have believed the lie that if we lower the bar people will be more involved, but we have lowered it is not worth jumping over.
Give your people more Bible, not less, more theology, not less, more spiritual disciplines, not less. They will thank you for it.
what people are saying
“What J.T. proposes for the local church is not only possible, it is mission critical. And it works. I have witnessed first-hand how making space for deep discipleship moves spiritual infants to maturity. As the church heads into the winds of secularism, she needs disciples who are deeply rooted, and it is her calling to make them so. For those compelled to move their churches beyond bare-minimum discipleship strategies, this book offers a way forward, drawing everyday disciples into the deeper things of God.”
Jen Wilkin, author and Bible teacher
“The contents of this book are not theory or hopeful musings. They have worked. I had the privilege of serving with J.T. for five years as these convictions and concepts took root at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. Hundreds and hundreds of laymen and women grew in a robust understanding of the God of the Bible, transforming their lives and the worship and fervency of our church.”
Matt Chandler, lead pastor, The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas; president, Acts 29
“J.T. English combines razor-sharp theology with deep pastoral intuition to give us a book we badly need. It is amazing how much we can be doing in our churches without actually engaging in the sort of deep discipleship which will keep us all growing, serving, witnessing, and worshipping for the rest of our lives. J.T. shows us how the local church can become ground zero for theological passion and training. I look forward to applying his wisdom and hope many churches will do the same!”
Sam Allberry, speaker, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; associate pastor, Immanuel Church Nashville
“Pastor J.T. English is committed to helping us deepen our discipleship. There’s just not much to the shallow Christianity that typifies too many of our churches, and too many of our lives. If you want to be both challenged and instructed on how you can change that, pick up this book. It might not take long to read, but its results may last a lifetime.”
Mark Dever, pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; president, 9Marks
“In Deep Discipleship, J.T. English smartly and accurately diagnoses what is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the American church: the tendency to call Christians to less engagement, not more. In a well written and easily readable book, J.T. lays out a biblical blueprint for how pastors, leaders, and laypeople can call the church to be everything it was meant to be.”
Matt Carter, senior pastor, Sagemont Church, Houston, Texas
“When I reflect on Deep Discipleship, words that come to mind are these: biblical, needful, practical, readable. Grounded in the Word of God and fleshed out in the real life of the local church, my friend J.T. English provides a roadmap for developing and maintaining a faithful and healthy discipleship ministry in a local church of any size and location. My hope and prayer is that God will use this book to multiply disciples and disciple makers around the world.”
Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“This book is a rare combination of theology and practice on one of the most important aspects of the faith. Discipleship, according to J.T. English, is rooted in Scripture, situated in the local church, and aimed at mission to the glory of God. I hope Deep Discipleship is read widely, and I am confident that it will lead to the making and maturing of deep and holistic disciples.”
Jeremy Treat (PhD, Wheaton College), pastor for Preaching and Vision at Reality LA; author of Seek First and The Crucified King