Lifestyle Discipleship

Discipleship in the context of a rapidly changing society.

Reviewed by L C. Cooper, associate secretary, General Conference of Seventhday Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Lifestyle Discipleship addresses the challenge of discipling people within the context of a rapidly changing society. Many of those, even in the Christian world, do not have the advantage of a deep-rooted Christian heritage. Jim Petersen is well qualified to write on the topic. He has more than 30 years of experience in discipling ministry. He and his wife, Marge, pioneered the Navigator work in Brazil among unchurched university students. His two earlier works Living Proof and Church Without Walls began the idea that he has now developed to its maturity.

This book is written for Christians (Petersen calls them "insiders") who want to understand how to help other people find and follow Jesus Christ. It is more of a conceptual framework for discipling than a how-to manual. Yet there are very practical suggestions to be found throughout the book. The text is very readable, and the language easy to understand.

Petersen's ideas are built around three basic knowledge components required by the successful discipler: an understanding of the gospel, an understanding of the people that one intends to work with, and an understanding of the spiritual growth process. What happens and what doesn't happen at conversion? What is involved in the process of spiritual transformation? Where does behavior change come into the picture? Says the author: "There must be cause and effect be tween truth and behavior .... So often, as we attempt to help others in the Christian life, we get these things turned around. We focus on behavior rather than on transformation of the heart.... Discipling that is performance-oriented will often eventually lead either to rebellion or bondage."

Christians, whose view of discipleship is inextricably bound up with denominational identity, will be challenged by the chapters en titled "New Creations in Christ" and 'True Spiritual Transformation." Petersen argues from Scripture and a thorough understanding of human nature. The section dealing with seven elements of spiritual transformation is a practical combination of theory and experience.

This volume, 192 pages, deserves a place on the pastor's desk, not just in the library. It is a basic instrument for understanding the goals of discipling and spiritual growth.

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Reviewed by L C. Cooper, associate secretary, General Conference of Seventhday Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland.

October 1995

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