Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Gospel Centered Discipleship

Gospel Centered Discipleship. Jonathan K. Dodson. Foreword by Matt Chandler. 2012. Crossway Books. 176 pages.

The premise of this one is simple: the gospel is something every believer needs in their lives: day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. As long as we're breathing, we're in need of constant reminders of the gospel message. Any time we shift our focus to ourselves, to our efforts, to our successes, to our failures, to our goals, to our accomplishments, to our strengths, to our weaknesses, we begin to sink like Peter when attempting to walk on the water. If we focus on our successes, then we become arrogant and proud thinking that God is lucky to have us on his side. If we focus on our failures, then we're overwhelmed by guilt and shame. OR we turn from God altogether and wait for that magic day when we can get it all together and face him again. So Dodson's recommendation for churches is to form "fight clubs." Two or three men--at most--meeting together outside the church at least two or three times a month. (Or two or three women--at most--meeting together.) While confession plays a role in these "fight clubs" the emphasis remains on the gospel. The meetings should be gospel-centered, bible-centered, grace-and-encouragement-centered.

I can't bring myself to gush about this one. I can't deny that it has its decidedly practical side to it. Dodson wants pastors to form fight clubs, to model fight clubs for their congregations. He wants to see churches transformed, believers transformed. But the fight clubs sounded risky to me. They might work in some churches, in some congregations. But I'm not convinced that every church needs to adopt this model. (How do you make people feel comfortable confessing to others? You can't *make* anyone feel comfortable or safe automatically. And how do you keep the sessions from becoming gossip sessions?)

There were good ideas in this book, of course, like the believers need to be aware of their sin, to pray about their sins, and "fight" temptations. To identify the specifics of their biggest temptations, etc. And it was nice to have a reminder that Christians are not ever, ever to be thought perfect.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I encourage you to keep thinking about it! My church has successfully had groups that sound similar to this for the past year and a half. Of course, not all groups are perfect successes, but my group of four women has been amazing. We have encouraged one another to lean on God through some difficult situations and to do some crazy things for Him. Each group has a facilitator who has to be serious about keeping us focused, but we really havent run into gossip being much of an issue. A simple reminder of Christlikeness does the trick. I know all of us are spending much more time in our bibles, in prayer, with God, and acting for God than ever before. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts. I have many books on my nightstand that I've found through you.