The main thrust of this book is that everyone who calls themselves a Christian should really be on about making more disciples. It is their God given task. Christians should not just absorb knowledge, but they should pass on the message they have heard to others. They aren't to do this alone, but they should support and be supported by a local church to perform their disciple making mission.
Initially I was confused as to the target audience of this book. Was it from non-Christians to lean what the Christian life is about, or was it for nominal Christians and a boot up the butt to go out and tell people about Jesus? Having finished this book, I think it is for Christians, nominal or active members of a local church. Each section has really good probing questions, that are not about head knowledge, but more about how you really feel or respond to the message of the Bible. Normally, in each section there is at least one question about the Church that person is attending, which leads me to think this is not for the unconverted. However, I do think it could be adjusted for a non-Christian, probably by skipping over Parts 1-3 and just giving an overview of the main message of the Bible in Parts 4 and 5; of cause spending time on issues that person has and not just dragging them through the material.
Parts 4 and 5 make up the bulk of the material, which is an overview of the Bible. At first I though this was going to be a historical and/or chronological account, but it turned out to be more thematic, with each session pointing to Jesus or the mission to make disciples. My only critique would be that Part 4 felt very Pentateuch heavy. Comparatively, the history books, wisdom books and the major or minor prophets in the Old Testament did not get much of a look in.
I went through the material with a uni student during my Tuesday lunch hour to kinda of test this book out and see if it is any good. The guy I was going through this with was already a pretty solid Christian and was meeting with other people one on one through the week. Even during the uni holidays he decided to come in and do this with me, so the material can't be all that bad (or ANU students just can't keep away from their campus).
So next year will I seek out someone else and go through this material with them? I think I will, I even have someone in mind already. There are about 24 sessions in the book, so it is pretty long, and only meeting during the uni semesters made me feel like we didn't have much time to play around with. My guy did come in during the holidays, so that meant we could spent two weeks on one session, or just skip the session altogether and chat about other things and catch up later. I think next time, I will feel even more prepared to stray from the material, and skip some bits and focus on some other areas. It is after all just a tool that doesn't have to be obeyed religiously.
In the end, the resource is free (see below for links). If you are thinking about doing this, you should grab someone else and really wrestle together with the questions that are in there. I say this because I found the questions more challenging than the actual material. Hopefully after you meet with someone, afterwards you would both then met with another person. You should also watch the leaders videos, as Francis tells some good stories (how he shot a BB gun at a youth kid once to make a point) and David Platt is pretty solid and has a passion for the unreached.
Below are my own short summary of each session that I would try and work out before meeting with my guy to try and convey that point to him. These are more for my own reference, but I put them online for someone else (If I am honest, I only did Parts 1-4:2 before the session. My prep near the end dropped off, but I have added the rest in for this post).
Living as a Disciple Maker
Part 1:1 - A disciple is a follower of Jesus. This is not about diligently keeping a set of rules or
conjuring up the moral fortitude to lead good lives. It’s about loving God and enjoying Him.
Part 1:2 - Disciples of Jesus are to make disciples of Jesus. This is not done via a church program, but by the everyday ministry that all disciples are called to do.
Part 1:3 - A disciple maker should be motivated by love and take their teaching role seriously, reflecting it in their own life.
Living as the Church
Part 2:1 - Church life is important for disciples and disciples makers as it provides support, community and love.
Part 2:2 - The local church should be known for it's love and unity.
Part 2:3 - God's mission is bigger than your local community and so church's should reach out to the world, partnering together so that all nations and languages will praise God.
How to Study the Bible
Part 3:1 - A disciple shouldn't study the Bible out of guilt, for status, or just for teaching others. Instead we should approach it eagerly as it is God telling us about Himself and how we are to live.
Part 3:2 - A disciple is to study to Bible prayerfully trusting the Spirit will help them understand, and they are to read the Bible obediently and faithfully by putting what they learn into effect in their lives and not just storing up knowledge.
Part 3:3 - A disciple should approach the Bible by understanding the plan meaning of the text by looking at the grammatical and historical context and understanding the difference between interpretation and application of a text.
Understanding the Old Testament
Part 4:1 - God created everything, including people who bear His likeness. Because we are created, we are not autonomous
Part 4:2 - Sin entered the world and spread to even today. Sin is us not trusting God's word and us wanting to rule ourselves, but God does not give up on the people he made.
Part 4:3 - God chose to bless Abraham with Himself and made a covenant with him to bless all nations
Part 4:4 - God showed His authority and power over all things by rescuing His people from slavery even though they grumbled about it later.
Part 4:5 - God gave Moses and His people the law, not to earn God's favour but to maintain their relationship with Him
Part 4:6 - Israel found atonement in sacrifices which were is a graphic reminder of sin
Part 4:7 - Israel can not be the people of God without the present of God
Part 4:8 - Israel was to be unique because their God was unique, but they wanted a king over them. God continued His covenant from Abraham to Moses to David that was fulfilled in Jesus.
Part 4:9 - Israel constantly disobeyed God, but there was a promise of a new covenant that would deal with their stubborn hearts
Understanding the New Testament
Part 5:1 - Jesus was a real historical man who fulfilled God's promises. He gives new life and calls everyone to follow Him
Part 5:2 - Discipleship is a lifelong process where we are continuously made more and more like Jesus. It will not happen by our own efforts.
Part 5:3 - The Holy Spirit is God, who inspired the Bible and help people to follow Jesus.
Part 5:4 - The Church was God's idea made up of people Jesus died to save. It is to be a generous, holy, fearless and multiplying community.
Part 5:5 - The Gospel is good news not just for me, but for everyone. We should be about sending this message everywhere.
Part 5:6 - Jesus is going to return one day as judge. His followers will go to the new creation and those who rejected Him go to everlasting judgement.
The book concludes with this, which I though was a good summary of it all:
This life is about Jesus and His glory. Our mission is about God and His plan of redemption. We have seen God’s story of redemption unfold from the moment Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit until the early church spread the good news about Jesus around the known world. The church also has a two-thousand-year history of continuing the mission of making disciples and spreading the gospel around the world (though we have not always done this perfectly). And in this [last] session, we have seen where the story will end.
The King has full authority, and He has given us this command [Mat 28:18-20]. He will be with us always, even to the end of the age. We don’t know exactly when the end will come, but we know that making disciples is what we need to be doing.Resources
The official site - This has leaders videos, mp3's for each session and the text. If you go to the introduction you can download the whole pdf
mobile multiply - I made this site because the offical one was not mobile friendly. This should be easier site to get the resources.
Android App - I made this app, which contains pretty much what the mobile site has, only it is stand alone, so you don't need a net connection to read the material. You will still use data if you download the mp3's, videos or pdf's.
Session notes in Evernote - These are the notes I used during the sessions with my guy. They pretty much contain the questions in book and the ESV text of the passages we were to look up.
Bible reading plan - This is a reading plan that goes with each session. I did it (it took me longer than 168 days), and found it good. Some weeks it jumps around a bit, but there are large chunks that walk you through a whole book. On my to do list, is to put up these Bible passages on the mobile multiply (app and website) as it's always good to have more Bible.
Multiply Gathering - On Saturday 9th of November from 10am-noon (Australian time) there is a world wide multiply simulcast where David Platt and Francis Chan will be speaking. They did two of these last year, and this one should also have some great talks. I probably won't be watching this live, but when it goes online I will watch it then (and also update my website and app with the link to it).