Deep Discipleship: How the Church Can Make Whole Disciples of Jesus

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Deep Discipleship: How the Church Can Make Whole Disciples of Jesus


J.T. English


B & H Publishing

Publication Date:

September 9, 2020




213 pages


Much has been written about why so many people are leaving church, and what the church needs to do to retain its members. J.T. English argues that in fact, churches have missed the point: the goal is not to produce more cool material to make church cool again. Rather, Scripture makes it clear that the local church’s priority is to make disciples. Outside groups like seminaries and parachurch ministries can help, but discipleship is fundamentally a local task. English considers how local churches can return to this task, with chapters addressing the big questions:

  • How do we develop a God-centered vision where disciples love God and crave knowing him better?
  • How do we return to local church discipleship programs, instead of expecting outside experts to handle it?
  • What kind of church programs teach discipleship effectively?
  • What do disciples need to learn?
  • How do churches provide discipleship training in an order that makes the most sense?
  • Where do disciples go after reaching a certain level of training?
  • How do churches of various sizes pursue discipleship?

J.T. English primarily speaks from his experience as a young Christian who struggled to find discipleship opportunities, as well as being a pastor wondering why so many churches forget discipleship. This experience means that he speaks with passion for what can be done, sadness at what has been missed, and hope for the future. Sometimes he highlights current practices that will need to be seen differently to create discipleship. For example, he highlights how community groups have helped many churchgoers find social connections, but such groups don’t create ongoing Bible education. Providing ongoing education requires Bible studies or adult Sunday School.

English’s anecdotes about what happened when he started a discipleship program at the Village Church add flesh to his ideas, without becoming so detailed that no one can replicate his ideas. This isn’t a detailed plan for particular kinds of discipleship like Lifelong Leadership, or a numbers-driven discussion about the problem. English provides a more basic framework that churches can apply in any number of ways.

While English doesn’t tackle this question from a “how do we get our young people back in the church” perspective like You Lost Me and other Millennial/Gen Z studies, his vision answers that concern. Book after book on re-churching young people (from Barna’s You Lost Me to the more recent Not Done Yet) has shown that young people want good content, told with minimal “flash,” from churchgoers who will walk with them and listen to them as well as advise them. Some recent books on apologetics (Cultural Apologetics, Truth Plus Love) have also affirmed that having the right answers only helps in a relational context. English’s emphasis on discipleship done within local churches, combining community with education, paying attention to people, answers those concerns.

Therefore, English provides not just a great book about recapturing the church’s call to discipleship, but also why this is desperately vital. His vision of discipleship not only answers his stated concerns, but also other big concerns—which is what good discipleship does. Done properly, discipleship equips Christians to do all the other Christian tasks well, from overseas missionary work to parenting children to educating young adults to honoring the elderly.

A great vision, explained very well, about recapturing a vital church activity.


Rating (1 to 5 stars):

5 stars

Suggested Audience:

Church leaders or congregants, seeking to understand how to do discipleship, integrate it with current programs, replace unnecessary programs, or build a guiding vision on making discipleship part of their church culture.

Christian Impact:

English persuasively argues that Scripture sees discipleship as something local churches are commanded to do, and describes how churches can follow Biblical commands to do discipleship well in our contemporary setting.


Note: ECLA readers who enjoy this book may also enjoy the following books:

Deep Discipleship: How the Church Can Make Whole Disciples of Jesus

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