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Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out Paperback – November 9, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"The book's conversational tone, relevance to today's issues, and tangible solutions make this an important read for both ministers and laypersons who seek more unified and better motivated Christian communities." (Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2012)

"To thrive, the church can't merely be about making converts, but must focus its energies on making disciples--the very essence of the Great Commission. Real Life is a huge step in the right direction, offering a simple, practical tool to help everyone involved in disciplemaking to know that the objective is to get disciples to walk, talk, think, feel and do as Jesus did. For the sake of the church, read this book and put it into action!" (Doug Birdsall, executive chair, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization)

"Real Life turns disciplemaking on its head, fusing together elements that have normally been separate--evangelism, spiritual formation, community and mission--into one great model that could easily be applied and multiplied. To make disciples today, this book is a valuable resource to get us started." (Alan Hirsch, founding director, Forge Mission Training Network, and award-winning author of Untamed and Right Here, Right Now)

"The artificial--and inaccurate--dichotomy between discipleship and evangelism has been deadly to the church. This book by James Choung is a worthy antidote. It is practical. It is missional. It moves followers of Jesus toward a life of depth and significance and living out the good news for the long haul. It is for anyone seriously desiring to live as an authentic disciple and, in turn, help others in the journey of following Jesus." (Sam Metcalf, president, Church Resource Ministries-U.S.)

"Choung tells the story of discipleship in such a way that the most hesitant will be motivated to get off the couch to be and make disciples of Jesus. Because he paints a picture of discipleship through story, the lessons linger with you long after you shut the pages of the book." (JR Woodward, cofounder, Ecclesia Network, author, Creating a Missional Culture)

"Practical, wise, inspiring. James Choung is a gifted storyteller. Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out teaches biblical principles in discipleship via an entertaining story about Stephen, a young professional who desires to see God's presence in the everyday realities of his family, vocation and relationships. Choung introduces the Real Life Continuum, an extremely helpful framework for the discipleship journey." (Alec Hill, president, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA)

"Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out is a practical guide to discipleship. James Choung lays out a step-by-step process for helping others be like Jesus. If you have ever wanted to apprentice someone in the ways of Jesus and are not sure where to start, you gotta read this book!" (Dave Ferguson, lead pastor, Community Christian Church, movement leader, NewThing)

"Everyone wants to change the world. Few do. How do we create a culture where people can live into their dream for contributing to God's world? If the word 'discipleship' doesn't immediately come to mind, you should read through Real Life! In this volume James Choung gives practical inspiration for how we engage the people around us to become Jesus-followers." (Reggie McNeal, missional leadership specialist, Leadership Network, and author, Missional Renaissance and The Present Future)

"In fresh, clear, 'talking to you straight' language, Choung tells an intriguing story to encourage people who want more in their spiritual life. He paints a compelling and accessible picture of what a full life in Christ looks like. He explains the dynamics we see but can't quite put into words—-and then he goes on to give insightful, practical and compelling next steps. He connects elusive topics such as race, power and privilege with familiar ones such as prayer, Scripture study and church. An excellent resource for those wanting more in their experience with God and for leaders of faith communities! A surprisingly powerful book, crammed into a small, readable package." (Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Urbana program director, coeditor of More than Serving Tea, coauthor of Partnering with the Global Church)

"Real Life changes the paradigm for disciplemaking the way True Story pushed evangelism beyond the bridge diagram. Choung weaves an engaging story with helpful data, explains cultural and generational values and shifts, and moves us into the core spiritual questions of each generation. Real Life asks readers to consider disciplemaking as part of integrated Christian life and leadership in community without separating it from evangelism. I'm excited to see how the church will live and grow after reading Real Life." (Kathy Khang, multiethnic director, Great Lakes West Region, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and coauthor, More Than Serving Tea)

"This is the real deal, folks. Like a good story, Real Life draws you in--it is honest and elegant and helps you understand yourself and your world better. And like a good tool, Real Life empowers you--it is solid and practical and helps you work more fruitfully. In the important task of disciplemaking in the twenty-first century, the church desperately needs stories and tools like this." (Don Everts, author of Go and Do: Becoming a Missional Christian and I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus)

"A discipleship adventure and story you won't want to put down! The Real Life Continuum is a simple but powerful vision of what discipleship could be and should be. Choung brilliantly narrates a model that impacts deeply and broadly, from skeptics to world changers. It's a must-read for anyone exploring disciplemaking." (Tom Lin, director, Urbana Student Missions Conference, vice president, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA)

About the Author

James Choung started his educational odyssey at MIT, graduating in 1995 with a Management Science degree before heading off to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to acquire a Master of Divinity in 1999. Feeling more confused about God when he left seminary than when he started, he eventually wound up sitting at the feet of the wise gurus at Fuller Theological Seminary and graduated in 2008 with a Doctor of Ministry in Postmodern Leadership. Along the way, Choung helped plant an urban, multi-ethnic church called Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, and eventually became the pastor. He also served as intern pastor over international youth, college and expats in the English-speaking ministries of Onnuri Community Church in Seoul, Korea. Previously Choung served as divisional director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's San Diego Division. He kept busy with over 16 campuses and 220,000 students to connect with. But somehow he managed to write the book True Story and companion booklet, Based on a True Story, as well as maintain a speaking schedule traveling throughout the country shaking up ministerial minds on topics like leadership and evangelism. Today Choung is national director of Asian American Ministries for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, serving 168 staff and 4,646 students all over the country. He also teaches classes on evangelism and missional leadership development at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Choung lives with his wife, Jinhee, and their two little ones in Torrance, California. Visit James at his website,

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (November 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830836543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830836543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

James Choung has been involved in campus ministries for over 18 years, empowering rising generations of Kingdom world-changers. He currently serves as InterVarsity's national director of evangelism, and also leads a missional community called the Vineyard Underground. He has written True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In and its follow-up, Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out, and he has taught at Bethel Seminary San Diego on leadership development and evangelism. He frequently speaks at campuses, churches, and conferences, and his work has been featured in many publications including Christianity Today and Leadership Journal.

James has also sat in too many classes, writing his D. Min. dissertation on postmodern leadership development at Fuller Theological Seminary, receiving his M. Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and studying management science and marketing at MIT. He has previously served on the pastoral staff of a Boston-area urban church plant and of a megachurch in Seoul. He has also led worship at national conferences, and has been on boards for higher education and an overseas business startup. For fun, he likes to travel with his wife, tease his two sons, play board games with his buddies, hit some jazzy chords on the keys, enjoy Los Angeles' endless summer, and swing a racket in hopes of playing something like tennis. He blogs irregularly at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Morgan on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'll admit that I was not sure whether I would like this book when it was sent to me. This is a book on discipleship which is written as a story. There have been a number of such books written like this, most notably The Five Dysfunctions of A Team and Leadership - Self Deception. I have always thought how brave such authors are - not only have you to get across your `thesis' but they have the added pressure of creativity which fictional writers wrestle with.

Of course, this is not designed to be a page turning novel, but Choung does a great job of using the genre of story telling to frame his view of discipleship. The story revolves around Stephen, a guy who is trying to make it at work, which means he stays late and works long hours, even when his boss goes home. And yet he is a christian. And one day, a young guy on Stephen's team at work (Jared) realizes Stephen is a Christian and gets very excited and asks Stephen to disciple him. The story is the working out of that request. Stephen has no idea HOW to do this and it is soon apparent that after the first couple of lunch meetings with Jared that Stephen is WAY out of his depth. So he seeks one of his friends to help him.

The story unpacks the process and varying degrees of what discipleship is and how it unfolds in someones life. Yet there were a number of things that really spoke to me. The first thing was that Stephen, despite being out of his depth, knew that he should be willing to disciple someone and so, even though he was out of his depth, and had no idea what to do, he said YES I WILL, and, sought out help. In other words, we should not be afraid to disciple others despite our own inadequacies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Icarus on December 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was the first book on my Christmas reading list. Having finished it in 3 days, I'm glad it got the top spot. The book is structured with a fictional narrative up front that steps through the development and application of a conceptual framework for spiritual engagement and leadership development. The last section is a straightforward summary of the model with a few notes for application. I actually read the last section first thinking it would help me track the story better, but I don't think that's the right approach. The story up front does a great job of unfolding the model, showing what real-life problem a particular model element addresses or what need is met through applying this framework for discipleship. The story section also includes lots of amplifying information (like the difference between power, privilege, and authority), that didn't come across clearly in the last section. At times the story seemed a little too perfect, but I appreciated how the results of the story inspired hope and a vision for healthy discipleship in my heart. On top of that, Choung directly and effectively deals with several topics that I now realize have caused big problems for churches I've been a part of in the past -- generational differences and ethnicity being the top two.

All that said, I'm hugely excited about this book and am ordering extra copies to give away. I'm not a professional Christian minister - I have a job out in the marketplace that challenges me and fully uses my abilities to accomplish my organization's purpose. What "Real Life" showed me is the incredible potential of thoughtful, committed, world-changer Christians. The American church is arguably sitting on the largest quantity of untapped human capital of any organization in the world today. I'm incredibly excited about this book because Choung's ideas show a pathway for Christians like me to become world-changing disciples satisfying our callings for God's purposes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Puddleglum on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book - it was a gift from my brother. I really enjoyed it, and it gave me a lot to think about. The narrative style makes it much more interesting to read than if Choung simply laid out his ideas, and it gives him a good opportunity to show what obstacles you may encounter when following this model. I do agree with another reviewer who said the story seemed a little too perfect at times - I don't know that everyone we meet is going to be as receptive as the characters in the story, but it does inspire hope. After all, if the Spirit is leading and guiding, who are we to doubt what God can and will do.
I also loved that this model brings evangelism and discipleship together on one continuum instead of making them separate (and sometimes, seemingly opposing) forces. I don't think I've encountered another model that does such a good job of walking through all the stages from skeptic to world-changer and laying out the goal for each stage. I appreciated Choung's attention to generational differences, grace-heavy vs. truth-heavy Christianity, and the importance of giving both power AND authority to those we are training for leadership (as someone whose husband is in full-time ministry, I've seen that issue come up over and over). Most importantly, I appreciated his intentionality in showing the Holy Spirit's role in discipleship. He doesn't just give a 3 step, guaranteed approach, but instead gives a framework that, at every stage, is dependent on the Holy Spirit's guidance and our response to that guidance.
This book is an easy read that is full of helpful and challenging info. I would recommend "Real Life" to anyone looking for tools for helping others, at any stage, move along in their spiritual journey. And, as is the case with true disciple-making, I found myself being challenged to move further along the continuum, too.
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