The Best Books On Making Disciples Today The Way Jesus Did

The Books I Picked & Why

The Master Plan of Evangelism

By Robert E. Coleman

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.


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The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

By Dallas Willard

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.”


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What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

By Steve Addison

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.


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Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

By Neil Cole

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.


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

By Bobby Harrington, Greg Wiens

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.


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