A Certain Kind - A Book Review Concerning Discipleship
Edmund Chan is the former pastor of Covenant Evangelical Free Church in Singapore and now speaks around the world concerning his Intentional Discipleship model. In this book, the reader will find 20+ years of ministry experience and meditation on gospel-discipleship distilled. One would be hard-pressed to find a more helpful or thorough starting point for beginning the process of discipleship in a local church.
His work begins with a consideration of important terms. His philosophy of disciplemaking is stated right away: “Disciplemaking is all about a certain kind of person who is radically committed to a certain kind of purpose and who, through a certain kind of process, reproduces a certain kind of product” (pg. 36). He then defines a disciple as one who (1) has come to Christ for eternal life, (2) has claimed Jesus as Saviour and Lord, (3) has embarked on a life of following Jesus, and (4) is multiplying spiritually by helping others become disciples of Jesus Christ (pg. 46).
After defining his terms, his book is split into four parts: (1) seeing the critical need, (2) understanding the Biblical strategy, (3) determining the end product, and (4) accomplishing the mission. In the first section, he speaks of the need for a solid vision and one that will keep us from getting bogged down into ministry elements that are of less importance than the mandate God gave us. He then details the need for an intentional disciplemaking mindset for churches. This section is filled with much food for thought.
The second section of the book considers several Biblical examples showing the importance of leaders mentoring the next generation to follow. Spiritual maturity is the goal, but how does one get from their current station to that finished product? That is the subject of this section. Additionally, he speaks to several misconceptions concerning the Great Commission and strategies to see the correct understanding of Jesus’ words accomplished.
In the third section, Edmund Chan speaks of the importance of character and considering what finished product one wishes to produce in discipleship. He also speaks of the Bible’s teaching on servanthood and stewardship. Both of these elements must be a part of any true discipleship process.
The final section considers how a church can practically accomplish the mission of discipleship. Chan answers several crucial questions and makes several helpful distinctions. The reader quickly understands that the content of this book has not come from pure theory but from many hours of practically implementing Biblical principles and distilling them into a workable system. Indeed, some might like to simply skip to this final section and begin to immediately apply some of the practical ideas. This, however, would be a mistake. Everything in this book builds on what came before. Also, there are many practical suggestions throughout this book.
For those who understand that the modern church often fails to reproduce a certain kind of disciple, this book is a welcome breath of fresh air. What if churches, beginning with the church leadership, began to be intentional about making and developing disciples who would turn and do the same? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus told the church to do? Edmund Chan thinks so and produces compelling arguments for the reader as well as a vehicle for implementing that vision and mission that Jesus gave the church.