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Gospel-Centered Discipleship Paperback – March 31, 2012
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“Dodson’s Spirit-led, gospel-centered, organically relational, and authentic book is such a rare jewel. Jonathan is a good friend and an even better ally in the gospel. God has used him to teach me much, and I pray the Spirit will use this book to change the way you view and do discipleship.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network; author, The Mingling of Souls
“Nothing is more central to the global mission of the church than making disciples. This is at the very center of the gospel. Gospel-Centered Discipleship captures both the heart of the gospel and the essence of discipleship in the proper order. For too long we’ve put making disciples ahead of a clear understanding of the gospel. In cultures around the world, disciples lean away from the gospel toward religious performance or spiritual license. As a result, disciples burn out or drift from devotion to Jesus. Gospel-Centered Discipleship is an authentic re-centering of discipleship around the gospel of grace, in the context of community, for the mission of God. Don’t miss it!”
—S. Douglas Birdsall, Executive Chair, The Lausanne Movement
"Refreshingly honest and realistic, Dodson shares from experience about the struggles and the blessings of making disciples. He does not give us a rule book, but practical teaching that can help every follower of Christ more effectively live out the gospel and the Great Commission."
—Robert E. Coleman, Distinguished Senior Professor of Evangelism and Discipleship, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
“Every church planter zealously runs into mission with a mandate from Jesus to make disciples of all nations. But what is a disciple? How are they formed? What needs to be done in order for a new church to make disciples? Dodson does a brilliant job of painting a picture of the head, heart, and hands of a disciple, as well as addressing how they are formed. This book provides a clear target for the church planter’s mission to make disciples.”
—Scott Thomas, Founder, Gospel Coach; coauthor, Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God
“Jonathan strips away a stagnant view of discipleship and replaces it with something so refreshingly honest and deep, you find yourself craving it. This book will redefine all of your relationships with depth and transparency and Christ-centeredness. This isn’t just God’s design for discipleship—it’s how we were designed to live. Jonathan just took discipleship from the spiritually elite to dorm rooms and neighborhoods and coffee shops.”
—Jennie Allen, Founder and Visionary, IF:Gathering; author, Anything and Restless
“Jonathan Dodson is the real deal! After reading the prequel to this book, we asked Jonathan to speak at our annual meeting. He blew us away with his grasp of the gospel and discipleship! If you want to take a deep dive into the mystery and joy of the gospel, this is the book for you. Jonathan will help you fight to keep the gospel the gospel. He will show you how to avoid the traps of performance and license. He will show you how to avoid believing a lie. And, most of all, he will help you to taste the sweetness of Jesus.”
—Patrick Morley, author, The Man in the Mirror; CEO, Man in the Mirror
“Jonathan has done us a huge favor in writing this book. As I read it, a growing passion to fight sin grew within me. I want to be a card-carrying member of a ‘Fight Club’ so that in community we can take sin seriously, encourage one another to believe the gospel deeply, and pray for each other to respond to the Holy Spirit passionately. What else can I say? This is an excellent book. Buy it. Read it. Do it.”
—Steve Timmis, Executive Director, Acts 29 Church Planting Network
“With all of the talk of gospel-centeredness these days, I’m thankful to see Jonathan unpack this topic with a clear, compelling, Spirit-empowered approach. He goes beyond just answering the question: ‘What is gospel-centered?’ to help us see how the gospel of grace really works in the details of everyday life. His clarification of the unhealthy divide between evangelism and discipleship will bring about a more holistic approach to gospel-centered discipleship. I know Jonathan and respect the fact that these are not just concepts or theories, but truths coming out of the practice of his own disciple-making ministry. I trust that this book will serve to further advance the work of discipleship that has the gospel of grace as its foundation.”
—Jeff Vanderstelt, Visionary Leader, Soma; Pastor, Doxa Church, Bellevue, Washington; author, Saturate
“Jonathan cuts to the heart of the discipleship crisis we are facing by showing us that discipleship isn’t an optional response to Jesus. Rather, it’s embracing ‘a whole way of following Jesus Christ as Lord in the whole of life.’ This book will stir your heart and awaken in you the places the Good News is calling to reflect the likeness of Jesus. On top of this, his ‘grace agenda’ will push you to live out the multiplying principle we see at work in the Great Commission.”
—Mike Breen, Global Leader, 3DM; author, Building a Discipleship Culture
“One of the most healthy trends in the church today is a renewed focus on ‘making disciples.’ Jonathan Dodson has added an invaluable contribution to that trend. He makes it clear that making disciples must be gospel-centered and must take place in community. But he not only reminds us that this is what should be happening, he tells us how to actually make it happen. This book will give you a practical and proven approach that can work in your ministry setting. Read it carefully, both for its biblical challenge and its hands on approach to ministry.”
—Stephen E. Smallman, Assistant Pastor, New Life Presbyterian Church, Glenside, Pennsylvania; Instructor, CityNet Ministries of Philadelphia; author, Spiritual Birthline, Forty Days on the Mountain, and The Walk
“For the longest time, I have been hoping to see two books on discipleship. The first would be a practical resource for churches that, on the one hand, was serious about the kind of discipleship and accountability that are necessary for Christian growth and yet, on the other hand, would put forth the gospel of grace, not legalistic self-improvement, as the key to change. The second book I’ve wished for is one that would situate the task of discipleship specifically within the missional calling of the church. I was thrilled to discover that Jonathan Dodson has managed to write both of these books in one. In Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Jonathan pulls together all these different themes—gospel, mission, discipleship, church, and Spirit—into an integrated whole. And quite honestly, I don’t know a better person for that task.”
—Abraham Cho, Assistant Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York
“I am grateful for Jonathan Dodson’s new book Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He masterfully took the truth and beauty of the gospel and pushed it into an area of Christendom that is typically performance driven. I came away from this book understanding how to think about discipleship in a new way. I also love that the book isn’t just theory; Dodson has clearly lived what he is teaching. The truth in this book has built my love for the Holy Spirit. It has challenged my thinking on community and discipleship. And it has effectively pushed my comprehension of the gospel to a new level.”
—Jessica Thompson, author, Everyday Grace; coauthor, Give Them Grace
“Dodson writes with conviction and leaves the reader with important truths and responses to ponder. There is nothing cheap about the gospel he promotes. In fact, it’s all about the Jesus whom we profess and the Father we adore, who lead us to a life of victory in God’s Spirit. Read Gospel-Centered Discipleship with an open heart and a willing spirit to sustain you!”
—Stephen A. Macchia, Director, Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; author, Becoming A Healthy Disciple
“What is often vague or implied in the phrase ‘gospel-centered,’ is rendered clear and convincing by Jonathan Dodson. Here is the practical how-to of heart change, teaching how souls are changed and not simply their wanton behaviors. The tools are all here: what we need to know, think, do, and most essentially believe about the gospel to live as a new creatures in Christ. This fills in the practical gaps of gospel-centered discipleship and gospel-centered living.”
—Rick James, Publisher, CruPress; author, Jesus Without Religion
“One of the greatest challenges facing the missional movement is for disciples to ground their identity in the gospel, not in their mission. Gospel-Centered Discipleship clearly shows how true discipleship starts with a new identity in Christ, not a new behavior for Christ. It is saturated with deep truth and is as practical as it is informational. This book is a game-changer.”
—Brandon Hatmaker, author, Barefoot Church; pastor, Austin New Church, Austin, Texas
“Jonathan knows that discipleship is of strategic importance in terms of the vitality, sustainability, and impact of the church. He also knows that to be true disciples we must become more like Jesus or else degenerate into religious ideology. Gospel-Centered Discipleship is a really helpful and fertile book for a critical time.”
—Alan Hirsch, Founder, Forge and Future Travelers; award winning author, Untamed, Right Here Right Now, and ReJesus
“If in your struggle against sin you’ve been beaten up by the duty-bound, legalistic, moralistic methods of contemporary discipleship or enslaved by the licentious approach to holiness by proponents of cheap grace, then Gospel-Centered Discipleship is for you! Dodson calls us to join the fight against sin, legalism, and license by believing everything the gospel says about who God is for us in Christ, and how he is conforming us to the image of His Son. Read this book. Form a ‘club.’ And begin fighting sin for the glory of God and your joy in Christ.”
—Juan R. Sanchez, Jr., Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
“I am a big fan of Jonathan Dodson and grateful for this book. The church is desperate for this vision of grace-based, gospel-centered discipleship. I know I am! The guilt-ridden, shame-based, discipleship trail I stumbled on for years left me tired, defeated, and self-righteous. The discovery of gospel-centrality in my journey as a disciple and in making disciples, like this book reinforces and lays out so beautifully, saved my life, gave me hope, and, quite simply, changed everything. Gospel-centered sanctification and gospel-centered ecclesiology are like two lost continents to the current church. Thanks, Jonathan, for your work to help blaze the trail!”
—John Wiley Bryson, Co-Founder and Teaching Pastor, Fellowship Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee; Leadership Coach, Fellowship Associates
“A timely book about gospel-centered accountability in an age of anonymity and shallow relationships. Dodson has done a masterful job highlighting how the Holy Spirit uses gospel truth to give us new, Christ-centered affections that dispel our thirst for sin. Moreover, he helps us see how we can come alongside each other to unearth the deeper heart-idols that drive our more obvious sins. For those still playing at religion through superficial, pseudo-accountability, this book is a welcome killjoy. You'll never look at accountability the same way again.”
—Luke Gilkerson, Internet Director, Covenant Eyes; blogger, Breaking Free
“Gospel-Centered Discipleship is a breath of fresh air. Dodson does an excellent job of combining theology and praxis. Highly recommended for those seeking to build a discipleship culture in their church.”
—Jon Tyson, Acting Parish Pastor, Trinity Grace Church, New York, New York
About the Author
Jonathan K. Dodson (ThM, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is the founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife and three children. He has discipled men and women abroad and at home for years, taking great delight in communicating the gospel and seeing Christ formed in others. Dodson is the founder of GospelCenteredDiscipleship.com and author of a number of books, including Gospel-Centered Discipleship.
Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas metroplex of over 10,000 people. His sermons are among the topselling (free) podcasts on itunes and he speaks at conferences worldwide. Prior to accepting the pastorate at The Village, Matt had a vibrant itinerant ministry for over ten years where he spoke to hundreds of thousands of people in America and abroad about the glory of God and beauty of Jesus. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lauren, and their three children: Audrey, Reid and Norah.
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Top Customer Reviews
I hope that this will be the first of many books that Dodson writes integrating the gospel with all of life. What he does in this book in a very cogent manner is demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses in "traditional" discipleship and shows how the gospel should not be bifurcated, but central to the pre-Christian and post-Christian's understanding of discipleship. He makes a great case for the "Great Commission" becoming the "Gospel Commission" and shows how repentance and faith in the context of community are constants in the gospel-graced disciple of Christ.
Tackling discipleship biblically, theologically, and practically Dodson has given pastors, church planters, and all kinds of Christians a wonderful handbook for understanding biblical discipleship, and how to practically live out the gospel in the context of community.
The best part of this book is how it exalts the gospel of Christ by pointing to a grace based discipleship that doesn't err toward the extremes of self-righteousness, nor of antinomianism, but simply living out one's new identity in Christ. According to Dodson, discipleship is our identity in Christ and everything else we are is related to our differing roles as disciples of Christ.
Our new identity in Christ has three distinct aspects that are developed in the book: rationality, relationship, and being missional.Read more ›
Dodson opens up the book by sharing his failures and what he has learned over the years. He jumps right into clarity about the gospel being central before and after conversion. The first chapter is wrought with great thoughts regarding the often misunderstood relationship between evangelism and discipleship.
He then helps us understand the goal of discipleship: the fight for image. This is a wonderful chapter worth the price of the book itself!
The second part of the book ("Getting to the heart") analyzes the failure of discipleship, then jumps to the motivation for discipleship (the gospel!) and then Dodson brings to clarity the role of the Holy Spirit (more on this at the bottom).
My favorite section was his section on fight clubs and what it means to fight sin. We must 1) know our sin, 2) fight our sin, and 3) trust our savior. These are remarkable tools to help us in discipleship as the Spirit shapes us look more and more like Jesus.
A couple of great quotes:
"The first gospel motive, religious affection, is a joyful motivation for discipleship... We fight for faith to believe that obedience to Jesus is better than disobedience. Religious affection is an expression of faith in the gospel..." (pg. 80)
"When we refuse to rely on the gospel of grace, we trivialize the Trinity by not trusting the Father's promises, selling out the Son's sacrifice, and slighting the Spirit's power." (pg. 101)
"[Third], trust your Savior. This is the best part of discipleship. Trusting our Savior makes discipleship personal.Read more ›
This little book (173 pages) has three main sections: 1) Defining Discipleship, 2) Getting to the Heart (the Gospel), and 3) Applying the Gospel. In the first part Dodson says that discipleship is always centered on the gospel, whether evangelizing or meeting with fellow Christians. In the second part, he steers the reader away from legalism and antinomianism, explains the gospel/grace briefly, and talks about the power of the Holy Spirit. In the final part, Dodson talks about the church, evangelism, and his practical idea of discipling, namely, "fight clubs" (groups of three who meet regularly to fight sin and fight for faith).
There are a few strengths in this book. I was happy that Dodson did constantly focus on the gospel, assuring us that our standing before God and identity have first and foremost to do with Christ's work for us. Dodson also talked about the help of the Holy Spirit in fighting sin and growing closer to Jesus. Two other aspects I appreciated was how this book stressed the importance of the Trinity as well as the details of fighting sin.
There are also some weaknesses in Gospel-Centered Discipleship. First, there was a ton of repetition in the first two sections which made them sound the same. Second, there were tons of trendy evangelical phrases in the book that were ambiguous to me.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderfully balanced and powerful book. Highly recommended.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Evangelical companies caught on that by putting, “Gospel,” in the title of products, they can sell just about anything to a certain kind of Christians. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Matt
A good easy read, bringing discipleship back to its roots-the Gospel...something a Christian should never shy away from!Published 11 months ago by vader4life
We are taking the men in leadership at our church through this book, and we are benefiting greatly from it.Published 12 months ago by The Beetle
This was a great introduction to developing gospel-centered accountability and friendship, which I've been trying to do lately anyway. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Brad Beyenhof
"Gospel-centered" is the evangelical buzz word of this period, but Jonathan sets the truth of the Gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and reminds us all of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sean Corser
Started out very promising, but in the end Dodson does exactly what he promises NOT to do: he promotes his own version of a discipleship "program," which he calls... Read morePublished 22 months ago by J. Ferch
Reading thru the book encouraged me to keep a gospel focus in my walk and a few good insights into helping keep the gospel apart of small group ministry.Published 22 months ago by lorenk