- Publisher: Crossway
- Available in: Paperback, Kindle
- ISBN: 1433562855
- Published: February 28, 2019
Discipleship and evangelism are words that are frequently used throughout the church, but seldom are they seen in practice. How do so many of us who have not been discipled make disciples? And, how do we accomplish that in today’s multicultural world?
Being a missionary with a passion to see discipleship multiplication, I knew Discipling in a Multicultural World by Ajith Fernando would be a must read, and I was correct!
Because of the authors experience in Sri Lanka, I felt that we readers would be in for a treat from a fresh perspective. I found this to be true as Ajith delicately (and sometimes not so delicately!) points out the weaknesses in discipleship within much of the Western church and elsewhere.
Some readers may find this off-putting, particularly if you’re in a church that does discipleship well. However, in my experience the Western church does relegate discipleship to a program. As a result, there tends to be very little discipleship multiplication in the West.
“It’s what we are supposed to do – rather than what we do, and I guess it is because our culture of individualism sees [discipleship] as a program rather than a lifestyle of sacrifice and inconvenience.” – Richard Brohier
Ajith Fernando first tackles the problem in the first section, Spiritual Parenthood.
I found this concept to be a key ingredient as well as a missing component of most of what is taught in discipleship. With “spiritual parenthood,” the idea is that disciples “parent” newer or other disciples. This is critical for multiplication, which spoke loud and clear to my desires to see disciples multiplied and Christ’s church expand.
“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” -2 Timothy 2:2
The author goes on in the section on spiritual parenthood to discuss the commitment that’s required, the stresses that are realized, and the pitfalls that are encountered in discipleship.
Again, some of these conversations are tough for some, particularly in the West to listen to, but are long overdue and more than necessary.
How Christians Change
In the second section, Ajith turns the focus to the process of change, or sanctification. This is a supernatural process that takes part in the lives of disciples of Jesus Christ.
Much of the material found in the section on change will be familiar to many readers, such as the need for change, agents of change, and the process of change.
However, Ajith presents this material from the perspective of someone with extensive international, multicultural experience. That’s a goldmine of a fresh perspective in our quickly ever-changing world where we have so many people from so many places in one place, whether you’re in Europe, North America, Latin America, or Down Under in Australia!
This is the strength of this book. It’s not a rehash of discipleship material that’s already available. Discipling in a Multicultural World brings new perspective, challenging conversation, and solid, Biblical solutions to discipleship in our multicultural world.
Another strength to Discipling in a Multicultural World (affiliate link) are the 3 appendices in the back of the book. While being a little light on offering practical steps, you’re going to encounter real-world, actions to take in discipleship.
These are beneficial and will serve well in discussions, especially in the context of small groups.
I intend to read through Discipling in a Multicultural World at least a few more times and implement much of the practices in my everyday walk in a widely multicultural world.
About Ajith Fernando
Ajith Fernando (ThM, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka after serving as the ministry’s national director for thirty-five years. He and his wife, Nelun, are active in a church ministering primarily to the urban poor, and his ministry includes counseling and mentoring younger staff and pastors. He is the author of seventeen books published in twenty languages. Ajith lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with his wife, and they have two adult children and four grandchildren.