Disciple: Journey with Jesus, Change your World.
by Erik Fish
“This is not a book. It is more of a facilitated discipleship experience.” Erik Fish is a pioneer in reaching college students for Jesus, planting simple churches, and creating disciple-making movements. Fish works with people who would normally never come to a traditional church. He is leading them to Jesus, training them in the basics, and then showing them how to reproduce. Sounds a lot like Matthew 28. It is from this context that he write “Disciple.” Now he has put some of his best thoughts into an interactive study guide that redefines some traditionally held paradigms. These paradigms come with new forms that not only appeal to post moderns, who many times would not attend a traditional church or campus ministry, but even people who do not follow Jesus because they have issues with the traditional church. This guide is a refreshing guide that will challenge your thinking, and give you tracks to run on if you have ever thought, “How do I make disciples of Jesus?”
Here is a short intro to the book by Erik Fish himself.
What We Like
The DNA of this book. This disciple-making guide will take someone from zero to reproducing in 3 months. It does not start with believers (like almost ALL books and studies today do) and leave out the most important part of making disciples, namely, bringing new people into Christ’s Kingdom. It’s language is plain and would speak to people unfamiliar with the Bible. It hits the gospel, baptism, Holy Spirit, disciple-making, habits for growth, sexual purity and even introduces you to God’s global plan. We should should take notice of the topics he has chosen as we wrestle with reaching this generation and creating missional cultures in their ministries. This guide will help on both fronts.
It has some new twists as far as what the “essentials” are for both growth and reproduction in discipleship. (i.e. daily time with God, love others, live sexually pure, gather with other disciples, and make new disciples). We like this because training in systematic theology is not needed to reproduce. Walking with God for years is not needed to reproduce. Giving your money is not needed to reproduce. But faithfulness, empowering of the Holy Spirit, obedience, and holiness are required. Fish keeps it simple, essential, and transferable.
What We Would Improve
The wording of some sections. After personally speaking with Fish at length about some of this, I realize some words were getting in the way of his message. I will attempt to clarify some points of his below:
Baptism by the Holy Spirit- We need the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should seek the gifts He has to offer us. We will grow more, share more, and love others better when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. He has been relegated to the sidelines for most evangelicals. It is time that He become an essential part of our daily walk and global witness for Jesus . And who knows, maybe we would all see more demonstrations of His power (like the rest of the global church does) if we did this. So whether you call this receiving the Spirit, being baptized by the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, or walking in the Spirit, let’s bring Him back to his rightful place in every believers life and seek to live supernatural lives all the time.
Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and Church- Fish advocates a model of local church that is very simple with permission given to normal believers to experience and conduct sacred ceremonies such as baptism and the Lord’s supper, even on campus. Communion in isolation or for unbelievers is probably not recommended, but you can wrestle with this on your own. This model for church is very similar to missional communities, except they are called (and act like) simple churches. Again, this might challenge some of your paradigms, but let it. A great book to add to your library on this issue is From the Ground Up by Dallas Seminary Prof, Scott Horrell. It covers what the church is according to the New Testament (mostly its functions) and leaves freedom in the “forms” it will take (why the book is so short). We have added way too much to what “Church” is (based on tradition instead of the Bible) when we should keep to simple structures that allow us to be the Church and make disciples. This book does not claim to be a church planting manual but a disciple-making movement manual that will result in the growth of the Church. It is not theory. Fish practices this every week. See his site with more resources at SCPX.org or follow his blog at ErikFish.com. He is missional communities on steriods. His aim to include more followers of Jesus practicing what current tradition severely limits to a select few. Amen.
The terms “Disciple/Follower/Christian/Believer” (used interchangeably in scripture) are all the same in the book (p.26), yet these are also presented as different. For example, being a “disciple” is presented as a higher status of being a Christian. Jesus wants followers who will truly follow Him, period. Some are more willing than others, but all believe and all follow no matter what we call them.
To make the study more robust, the book should pull from clear teaching passages and less from “look at these examples and draws out a principle.” It draws heavily from examples in Acts and the Gospels (historical/descriptive), with less emphasis on the epistles (teaching/prescriptive). Good teaching passages do exist and would greatly strengthen the book.
Who is this for?
- Cultural Christians who have never understood what following Jesus means. They have no power, no fruit, no obedience, and no disciples…and they want to change that.
- People who do not follow Jesus. The first few lessons introduce you to Jesus. Even the forgiveness section is not tailored toward reconciliation between believers but rather others who have hurt you in the past.
- This book is NOT for cessationists (the Holy Spirit does not do real demonstrations of power today), or people very comfortable in their church traditions, or people unwilling to truly follow Jesus.
How to Use this with Students
It is designed to give to a person and have them do a complete lesson per week. Then you meet and talk about it together. You should go through the guide once yourself, make notes, and tweak what you need for your context, but really you can just go for it with little preparation. The guide relies on the Word and the Holy Spirit to teach, not a professional teacher. Again the goal is facilitating a discipleship relationship. Each section will start with study, then make it personal, and ends with prayer and how to share what you have learned with others.
Here is the story of how one business man used the book to change his company.
This is a great tool that will help you make disciples who make disciples of all nations. It is available in print and electronically. There is also a PDF format, which should be especially helpful for our brothers and sisters overseas. Please let us know if you find/develop any new translations. So far it has been translated in to both traditional and simplified Chinese!
Bulk orders for a discount can be ordered by emailing Erik at firstname.lastname@example.org