Discipleship Today

Andrew Burggraff is the vice president of Spiritual Formation at Shepherds Theological Seminary and has spent much of this ministry involved in discipleship, so he is well equipped to write this manual on the subject.

Burggraff begins his book lamenting the abysmal state of discipleship today.  Unfortunately, most of the statistics are drawn from old sources dating as far back as 2001. Twenty-year-old surveys and research are virtually useless in the rapidly changing world in which we live. The author takes the same approach when later discussing small groups, drawing from sources as far back as 1968, 1969, 1977 and 2008. Much research has taken place on the small group phenomenon in recent years, and a great amount is not encouraging. These dated studies render this aspect of the work somewhat obsolete, and any future edition should use current studies. Fortunately, concerning discipleship, Scripture is timeless, and Burggraff focuses most of this attention on what the Bible teaches. 

The author defines discipleship as “a deliberate process of moving Christians forward spiritually” (p. 18) and “the process of learning the teachings of Scripture, internalizing them to shape one’s belief system, and then acting upon them in one’s daily life” (p. 19). Burggraff traces the principles of discipleship in chapters three and four. He believes that the most important factor in discipleship is not content but the teacher who transmits the experience and the character of the teacher himself (pp. 29-30). This concept could be credibly challenged.

It is through the study of the Bible that Christians grow and change spiritually (p. 52), and therefore the church should offer as many opportunities as possible to study the Word (p. 57). Four specific means are detailed: preaching/teaching, Sunday school and similar Bible studies, small groups, and individual mentoring (pp. 64-81). Burggraff believes the home is the ideal place for making disciples (pp. 83-93).Discipleship Today is a concise, assessable manual for creating disciples. For those seeking an entry-level work on the subject, this book would be a good start

by Andrew T. Burggraff (Gary, NC: Shepherds Press, 2024), 141 pp., paper $10.99

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel

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