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The False Promise of Discipleship

Bill Hull and Brandon Cook

“How am I doing in my walk with Jesus?”

The question seems harmless enough, but in this new Exponential eBook, the venerable Hull and Cook, point out the detrimental effects of having a discipleship that’s primarily based on getting closer to Jesus and the question “How am I doing?”

The authors say that because most of today’s discipleship processes or programs have pinpointed the goal of discipleship as “getting closer to Jesus,” we are not producing mature disciples focused on “others,” but rather consumerist disciples focused on “I.” This, they say, is the false promise of discipleship—that the goal or endpoint of discipleship is about us getting closer and closer to Jesus.

Throughout these pages, Hull and Cook present two paradigms: The Human Paradigm and The Jesus Paradigm, explaining that the first is focused on an ever-elusive reward of “X” (If I just do these things, everything will be okay and I’ll arrive at X). The Jesus Paradigm, however, says that loving, knowing, and serving others is both the heart—and the endpoint—of discipleship. “Rather than teaching people the gospel of God with us,” they write, “we’ve taught them the gospel of ‘do it right to get close to Jesus.’”

Ultimately, Hull and Cook challenge us to start asking new questions that lead us to true understanding of God’s unconditional love and acceptance and how we respond to that love through loving others. The False Promise of Discipleship is a wakeup call to leaders to change the way people approach discipleship and to help catalyze a new movement of disciple making in your church.

Key Takeaways

• why the understanding and practice of “laboring to rest” brings us into a completely new understanding of God’s economy of grace.
• Hull and Cook’s clear, concise and insightful definition of a “disciple”
• a thorough exploration of the problems of The Human Paradigm and why it’s so prevalent today
• the two questions discipleship movements must be built on
• why most of our discipleship programs fail today
• three practical steps/shifts to pursuing others-centered discipleship
• what it means to “abide” and why learning to do it brings us into a new understanding of Jesus-based discipleship

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Bill Hull

Bill Hull is a writer and discipleship evangelist calling the Church to choose the life Jesus calls His disciples to. Bill has written numerous books on this subject (including the watershed works The Disciple Making Pastor and The Disciple Making Church) and spent 20 years working it out as a pastor.

Brandon Cook

Brandon Cook serves as lead pastor at Long Beach Christian Fellowship and is a co-founder of The Bonhoeffer Project, a group of nationally known thought leaders challenging today’s default gospel that says you can become a Christian and go to Heaven—and following Jesus is an option. This group is championing a “new” gospel—that which Jesus taught that says those who are called to salvation are called to discipleship.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Brandon studied at Wheaton College in Illinois, Jerusalem University College, Brandeis University, and The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Before joining a transformational training organization and moving to Southern California in 2006, he worked as a professional storyteller. In 2009, he went to Long Beach Christian Fellowhip, and over the course of five years of pastoring became convinced that his work—and the work of the church—is to become fully committed to discipleship and making disciple makers. The Bonhoeffer Project is for him a quest to live into the question: How are people transformed to live and love like Jesus.


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