The best books on making disciples today the way Jesus did

Who am I?

Cory Hartman (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) collaboratively crafts practical tools, interactive processes, and breakthrough content for the Future Church Company, three interconnected organizations that exist to help the church embody the movement Jesus founded. I previously served as a pastor for thirteen years and founded Fulcrum Content, a gospel communication training organization.


I co-authored...

Future Church: Seven Laws of Real Church Growth

By Cory Hartman, Will Mancini,

Book cover of Future Church: Seven Laws of Real Church Growth

What is my book about?

Church growth models have often been long on promises and short on disciple-making. We continue to watch consistent church attendance shrink, and our desire to reach the lost is infected with a need for self-validation by growing our numbers at any cost. If we believe that God wants his church to grow, where do we go from here? What is the future of the church?

The books I picked & why

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The Master Plan of Evangelism

By Robert E. Coleman,

Book cover of The Master Plan of Evangelism

Why this book?

In the 1950s, Robert Coleman, then a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, was assigned to teach a class on evangelism. But he had a problem: he had no idea what to say. So he decided to pore over the four Gospels to discern Jesus’ strategy for winning people to his message. His lecture notes became The Master Plan of Evangelism.

The reach of The Master Plan since its publication in 1963 has been enormous. Billy Graham even wrote the foreword. But Jesus’ model of training a few was so alien to the operating systems of 20th-century churches and traveling evangelists that generations had no idea how to implement it. Not many books have been so widely read and so little applied. Yet if you only read one book on this subject, make this the one. And if you’ve already read it long ago, read it again.

The Master Plan of Evangelism

By Robert E. Coleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Master Plan of Evangelism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For more than forty years this classic study has shown Christians how to minister to the people God brings into their lives. Instead of drawing on the latest popular fad or the newest selling technique, Dr. Robert E. Coleman looks to the Bible to find the answer to the question: What was Christ's strategy for evangelism? This convenient, portable format has an updated look for a new generation of readers.


The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

By Dallas Willard,

Book cover of The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

Why this book?

Thirty-five years after Coleman’s publication, the late USC philosophy professor and spirituality maven Dallas Willard wrote his most influential work. The Divine Conspiracy is nothing less than a sober attempt to turn upside down—or perhaps right-side up—everything most people, including Christians, think Christianity is.

Along the way, however, Willard composed a trenchant manifesto for making disciples as Jesus intended. This remark is typical: “The fact is that there now is lacking a serious and expectant intention to bring Jesus’ people into obedience and abundance through training. That would be discipleship as he gave it to us.”

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

By Dallas Willard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Divine Conspiracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1998, The Divine Conspiracy captured the attention of Christians across the world, by offering a timely and challenging call back to the true meaning of Christian discipleship.

Gracefully weaving biblical teaching, popular culture, science and scholarship together, Dallas Willard refuted the view that Christianity is solely about gaining admittance to heaven when we die, and taught that, as disciples, we have access now to the life of the kingdom.

Equally relevant today as it was on publication, The Divine Conspiracy challenges us to step aside from the pieties of contemporary Christian practice and offers instead a practical…


What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

By Steve Addison,

Book cover of What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

Why this book?

Addison’s book lengthens and broadens Coleman’s Master Plan. While Coleman focuses on Jesus’ selection, training, and sending of his twelve closest disciples, Addison also examines what Jesus did before he named the Twelve, including rich historical background of his ministry context in first-century Palestine. In this way, Addison sheds light on how to engage unreached people who are still far from committing themselves to learn from Jesus.

Addison discerns a recurring six-step pattern in Jesus’ activity, in the early Palestinian church, in Paul’s Mediterranean travels, and in global disciple-making movements today. Importantly, he lays out these steps in a way that contemporary Western Christians unused to Jesus’ method can begin practicing them together.

What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

By Steve Addison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Jesus Started as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year Sometimes we get so caught up in the power of Jesus shouting from the cross, "It is finished!" that we forget that Jesus started something. What Jesus started was a movement that began small, with intimate conversations designed to build disciples into apostles who would go out in the world and seed it with God's kingdom vision. That movement grew rapidly and spread wide as people recognized the truth in it and gave their lives to the power of it. That movement is still happening today, and we are called to play our part…


Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

By Neil Cole,

Book cover of Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

Why this book?

Imagine you and a band of others begin living out what Steve Addison describes, and as a result, more people you’re talking to embrace Jesus and start following his way with you. Your group has changed; now what do you do?

Neil Cole is a leading practitioner of a model known variously as “organic,” “simple,” or “house church”—networked groups with scant formal organization meeting in homes and public spaces. In Church 3.0, Cole argues for and describes the practicalities of this church style. Although in our book Future Church Will Mancini and I contend that there is still a valid and valuable role for the institutional church today, Cole’s work stimulates important thinking about how to evolve it to make disciples where people actually live, work, and play.

Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

By Neil Cole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Church 3.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert practitioner answers to questions about the burgeoning organic church movement Neil Cole's best-selling book Organic Church described the fastest growing segment of contemporary Christianity-the so-called organic church. Now in this next-step book, he answers questions about how to deal with theological and organizational issues that come up. He talks about issues such has what to do with finances, children, heresy, leader training, and rituals and ordinances. Without the top-down structure of a denomination, even people who are proponents of this small, house-church model worry that they are not doing it right. Offers an important resource for anyone involved…


Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making

By Greg Wiens, Bobby Harrington,

Book cover of Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making

Why this book?

What are the stages of a disciple’s optimal development? The theoretical path starts with a person not following Jesus and ends with that person helping their own disciples make disciples of Jesus. Having a reliable model that traces the course of a disciple’s development benefits a disciple maker practically, because people have different capacities, needs, and challenges at different stages as they grow.

The most persuasive and useful model yet proposed might be found in this brief book by Harrington and Wiens, who adapt to individuals the Exponential organization’s five-level typology of churches.

Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making

By Greg Wiens, Bobby Harrington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming a Disciple Maker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Becoming a Level 5 Disciple Maker is an introduction to the five levels of disciple making with a focus on how to become a Level 5 disciple maker like Jesus. The authors discuss why we should pursue Level 5 disciple making, how we can pursue it, and what we can do to assess our progress along the way.

Bobby and Greg introduce and explore the pathway to becoming a disciple maker by using this five-level framework. Focusing on helping individuals identify where they are on the disciple-making scale (levels 1 to 5) and what is needed to become a Level…


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