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Choose the Life: Exploring a Faith that Embraces Discipleship Paperback – May 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ."--Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Get ready to explore a faith that does not separate salvation from discipleship, but embraces the seamless journey from conversion to transformation.

In Choose the Life, discipleship expert Bill Hull breaks new ground, challenging what we've made of the gospel. He believes that the Great Commission has more to do with spiritual depth than strategies and structures. Jesus is calling us to choose the life of thinking as he thought, living as he lived, loving as he loved, ministering as he ministered, and leading as he led. Anything less is Christ-less Christianity.

"This book is worth the price simply for Bill's elegant, comprehensive, penetrating five-fold definition of what a disciple is."--Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian

"Bill Hull reminds us that being a Christian and being Christlike are synonymous. Choose the Life pinpoints the missing pieces of contemporary discipleship and delivers a compelling call to become a community of obedient, transparent disciples."--Judith Hougen, assistant professor of English, Northwestern College

"Bill takes seriously the challenge to believe, live, love, serve, and lead like Jesus."--Alan Andrews, U. S. director, The Navigators

"Through the experiences of his own journey Bill Hull challenges and, I believe, effectively guides us to see our lives formed through obediently following Jesus as opposed to a myriad of hollow options."--Bill Thrall, founding partner, Leadership Catalyst, Inc.

About the Author

Bill Hull is a writer and discipleship evangelist, as well as the founder of T.N.E.T. International, a ministry devoted to transforming churches into disciple making churches. He has spent twenty years as a pastor and is the author of ten books, including Jesus Christ: Disciplemaker, The Disciple Making Pastor and The DiscipleMaking Church. He and his wife, Jane, live in Long Beach, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801064708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801064708
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Choose the Life" addresses fundamental reasons why many discipleship programs fail to work. Bill Hull's thesis is as follows, "A transformed life is needed, a life of depth of true disciples who have chosen to follow the life that Jesus lived. The reason the mission languishes is the acceptance of a nondiscipleship Christianity that creates shallow believers with hollow lives who don't affect those around them. This has led to the marginalization of the gospel and has retarded its spread because of its lack of authenticity and power" (215).
I have been a long-time fan of Bill Hull's writings and his passion for disciplemaking. With stark vulnerability, Hull reveals his own weaknesses and reasons why disciplemaking wasn't working as he desired at his Church. Hull asserts that character is formed in community and the New Testament model of discipleship should have the following characteristics:
1. A disciple submits to a teacher who teaches him or her how to follow Jesus.
2. A disciple learns Jesus' words.
3. A disciple learns Jesus' way of ministry.
4. A disciple imitates Jesus' life and character.
5. A disciple finds and teaches other disciples for Jesus.
Hull states, "The reason characteristics 2 through 4 are most common is that they are the least challenging of the five. Frankly, people can do these without having to change. It goes back to the indictment that we have found ways to be Christian without becoming Christlike. Items 1 and 5 make it all work" (37).
"Choose the Life" goes far beyond methodology to the underlying principles of how discipleship can be effective to transform others. Throughout the book, Hull emphasizes the necessity of relationships of trust in an environment of grace.
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I think what I liked best about this book is that is far from a "how to" manual on discipleship or church leadership full of "tips and tricks" on how to implement programs or get people to do things. Hull is honest about his own journey, and is compelling when he encourages the reader to choose a life of genuine discipleship. Hull identifies one of the primary problems in our churches as a lack of genuine discipleship, or Christ-likeness in the lives of average believers. The solution, he argues, is to become "intolerant of fringe Christianity." He then uses a five-fold rubric to structure his vision of discipleship: transformed mind, character, relationships, service, and influence.

One of Hull's more gripping arguments is that evangelism begins with a deepening church. Disciples given over to Christ and who have a God-like love for the world will make the best evangelists. In order to extend the branches of the church, it first must strengthen its roots. In addition, Hull argues, evangelism must be a call to a whole life. We should no longer get away with momentary decisions. We must model, encourage, and produce a structure where believers at all maturity levels can find their lives aimed toward Christ.

I am convinced of Hull's basic argument that the Church needs to recapture a robust notion of discipleship. His argument that, "discipleship...is the primary and exclusive work of the church" is right on the money (pg. 29). If you want to be motivated to find out what that means as an individual or even as a leader, this is a tremendous work.
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This is an outstanding book. It is unfortunate that it is not more widely embraced, especially when one considers the primary mandate of Christ is to "make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20). What I mean by "widely embraced" is the wild popularity of some of the more recent Christian living books that might be included in the "call of discipleship" genre. Take for instance Not a Fan published in 2011 that has almost 900 reviews on Amazon.com or Radical published in 2010 that has over 1008 reviews and contrast those numbers with Choose the Life published in 2004, which has a mere 20 reviews. The question cannot help being asked, "Why such disparity in the numbers?" Might the reason be excellent writing versus poor writing? I submit that answer is a resounding "NO!" What is the reason?

The reason, in my opinion, is that discipleship--the type of discipleship modeled and taught by Jesus and his disciples--is costly...and difficult. Therefore, it is not a lifestyle that the masses will embrace and this is supported by the words and teachings of Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14). Yes, I realize this Scripture passage is referring to Jesus as the way, but the "way" of Jesus is becoming his disciple. Herein lies the problem for many people and this is exactly the path that Bill Hull outlines in Choose the Life.

I really like the summary of Bruce Demarest regarding Hull's work in this book; he says:

"In a churchly culture of many decisions but few disciples, Bill Hull challenges us to exchange ingrained patterns of unfruitful mediocrity for the paradigm of radically following Jesus on the path of transformational discipleship. If faithfully heeded, Choose the Life will revolutionize the people of God.
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