The newest book on discipleship from an Adventist author is From Membership to Discipleship: A Practical Guide to Equipping Members for Ministry by Del Dunavant (AdventSource, 2006). It addresses the concern that too many Adventist Church members are merely spiritual spectators, and not involved in actively serving Christ.
Research has shown that the membership of most Adventist congregations in North America is made up of about one third people who no longer even attend church, another third who only come and sit in the pews on Sabbath, and the third who actually get involved in some kind of volunteer ministry or activity group. This means that two thirds of the 1 million people in our membership are not really living as disciples of Christ.
This book is about how to turn that around. It is addressed primarily to pastors, but it can also be profitably read by church board members. It is clearly rooted in Scripture throughout, as well as being easy to read and quite practical.
You can get a copy at most Adventist Book Centers, or directly from the publisher at www.adventsource.org or (800) 328-0525.
From Spectators to Disciples
A self-study course on the same topic is available in From Spectators to Disciples: A Biblical Strategy for Church Growth by James W. Zackrison, the recently retired director of the General Conference Department of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries. It brings together information from many sources, including the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White.
This volume includes six learning units, and can be used as an instructor’s guide if you want to present the material in a seminar or midweek series. Many of its pages can be turned into overhead slides with a photocopier and plastic sheets, as well as a number that are masters for handouts. The last page is a form that can be sent in for Continuing Education Units (CEU) for completing the course through independent study or in a group.
This package is also available from AdventSource.
Ph.D. in Christian Formation and Discipleship
Andrews University is now offering a Ph.D. program in Christian Formation and Discipleship. It is designed to prepare leaders and teachers who specialize in helping people to become serious followers of Jesus. The course work focuses on developing seven essential roles: mature Christian, teacher, apologist, researcher, servant-leader, lifelong scholar, and serious Bible student. It takes four to six years to complete the program, typically with a student who also has full-time professional responsibilities.
If you have ever felt a call to a career in discipleship or spiritual formation, this may be just what you have been waiting for. The program can be relevant to pastors, educators, counselors, and administrators. For more information, contact the program director, Jane Thayer, at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104.
Monte Sahlin is vice president for creative ministries at the Columbia Union Conference, and chairman of a team at the Center for Creative Ministry that is currently implementing a discipleship curriculum resource project for the North American Division. You can give him ideas and comments at [email protected] or (800) 438-9600.