What would you do if at the end of a long board meeting one of your board members posed the following question: “How long would it take for someone who visits our church to learn about his or her need for Jesus and to find out what to do about it?” This is exactly what happened to Glenn McDonald, senior pastor of Zionsville Presbyterian Church (ZPC) in Indianapolis. This question is what began the process of ZPC morphing its church from operating as an ABC (attendance, building, cash) church to a church that follows Christ’s command to go and make disciples. Rev. McDonald explains the process his congregation went through during this transformation in his book, The Disciple Making Church: From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality.
ZPC examined its agenda and found that “canned programs” did not make a lasting impact on the lives of its church attendees and that ZPC, like most churches in America, focused primarily on increasing the number of people who attend each week, making the church building bigger and more attractive, and having adequate funds to pay all the bills. Realizing that these concerns were not aligned with the primary mission Christ gave the church, Pastor McDonald and his board started making drastic changes in everything from sermon content to church structure.
Rev. McDonald spends the first half of his book explaining the crisis the church in America has placed itself in because of improper priorities. He spends the rest of the book offering guidelines for coming back in line with the great commission.
He says that if we are to transform our churches into places where discipleship can take place, we first must know what discipling truly is and then adapt the six traits of a disciple to our lives. After leading a person to accept Christ in order to make it into Heaven, we must become that person's Barnabas, encouraging and uplifting and teaching him or her. Eventually, as spiritual growth occurs, that person can then become a Barnabas to another new disciple.
Through the use of scriptural examples, along with vivid anecdotes from his personal life, pop culture, history, and candid surveys from members of his congregation, Rev. McDonald clearly explains each of his points. These anecdotes and examples are described so well, there was no a need to have pictures in his book. However, the author did use one diagram that he refers to in one chapter to keep things organized. At the end of each chapter he includes questions for further exploration and practical suggestions for applying that chapter’s lessons to one's own life and church.
The Disciple Making Church is a much-needed book for today’s church. If you are a leader of a Christian body and are tired of looking for the next-best curriculum to ignite the spark in your congregation or small group, or if you are someone who is seeking a livelier spiritual life, look no farther than Christ’s call to discipleship. It is the spark that ignites the flame! Let Glenn McDonald point you in that direction through his experience at ZPC, which was named one of the 300 Excellent Protestant Congregations in America in 2001 by Westminster John Knox Press. -- Jennifer Woolever, Christian Book Previews.com
Glenn McDonald was the busy senior pastor of a large and grwoing congregation in the suburbs of Indianapolis when, late one night, a single question launched a journey that changed every facet of life at Zionsville Presbyterian Church. As a lengthy board meeting was about to wrap, a board member asked:
"How long would it take for someone who visits our church to learn about his or her need for Jesus and to find out what to do about it?"
After a long and hollow silence, a profound transformation began. All "canned programs" for ministry -- along with a focus on the "ABCs" of attendance, building, and cash -- went by the boards as everything about the church was examined in the light of Christ's charge to "go forth and make disciples."
The Disciple-Making Church divides the transformation in two parts--sixe discipling relationships and the six marks of a disciple. McDonald weaves vivid Scriptural insights and the wisdom of scholars with the experiences of his own congregation and others, and distills it all into one helpful, valuable, enjoyable book. His infectious enthusiasm for the "exhilarating freedom" of the disciple's life virtually dances off the page.
If you've ever wondered if the "busy-ness" of many of today's churches isn't what Christ was talking about, this book will have a lasting impact on you and your walk with the Lord.