Haynes, Warren. Discipleship Uncomplicated (Franklin, Tenn: Carpenter's Son Publishing, 2016). ISBN: 978-1-942587-51-4
Before I begin my review of Discipleship Uncomplicated, I must share my biases. Afterward, you may prefer to call this review more of a recommendation. That would be fair.
Dr. Warren Haynes was on my doctoral committee. I pre-ordered his book, Discipleship Uncomplicated when I read Haynes' name on the committee assignment sheet. I wanted to read some (or all) of the written work of my committee to gain a better understanding of the men of my committee. I believe Haynes was assigned to my committee because my initial project and focus of research were pointing toward training up indigenous pastors and leaders. Haynes is the national director of the contextualized leadership development training (now called Advance) through Gateway Seminary, so that was a logical fit. However, early on in the research, I determined it best to move my attention to a step much, much earlier in the process of developing local leaders.
As I started the literature review on discipleship and simplicity, Haynes seemed an even better fit, and his book was an obvious inclusion to my review. After reading the book, I used material from Haynes' work in my DMin project and, I gave his book to participants in my study as an accessible resource for discipleship. Therefore, you should probably see my bias for this book and its author. That being said, I have waited until after graduation to share my review. Now, on to the book review!
The opening line of Haynes' introduction reads, "I promise to share with you in understandable terms what you have to do to make disciples" (ix). He continues, stating that the material shared in his book can, "seamlessly integrate disciple making into everyday life" (ix). I've read (or skimmed) at least a hundred books on discipleship, evangelism, the two rightly combined as the Bible demonstrates, or some extra-biblical combination of the two. Not one of them offered such a clear statement of purpose like Haynes. Did Haynes over-promise his thesis? I was concerned when I read the first paragraph. However, after reading the book and returning to his opening statement, I believe he achieved his goal and kept his promise. Also, having spent some time with Warren Haynes, I also believe he indeed practices what he wrote in his book.
Discipleship Uncomplicated, by Warren Haynes, is a simple book. It would be misleading if it weren't. The entire book is less than 140 pages, including the front matter, appendices, and info about the author. Eight principles of discipleship are covered in 96 pages. Another 30 pages serve as a guide or workbook that includes individual, group, and leader assignments and a guide to get started.
Rather than offering a chapter on the biblical mandate, importance, and relevance of discipleship as may books on the topic do, Haynes offers biblical direction throughout each chapter. The advantage to this approach is the ease of incorporation to a class or small group. Also, each chapter provides not only the argument on each principle, but tips, a memorable summary, and a challenge to the reader.
The uncomplicated discipleship principles, which are also the chapter titles, are:
1. Love God, Love People (The Heartbeat of Disciple Making)
2. What's Your Name (Making Discipleship Personal)
3. Let's Pray (Bring Spiritual Power to Your Relationships)
4. This is for You (Create Relational Breakthroughs)
5. Let Me Share a Story; Tell Me Your Story (Share Stories to Build Connections)
6. With Me (How to Move People Spiritually)
7. Gather People (Gather People to Influence People)
8. Multiply Leaders (Empower Rapid Advance)
The reader will not find any new, revolutionary ideas and methods in Discipleship Uncomplicated. If that were Haynes' goal, the book would be called Complicated Untested Discipleship. Instead, Haynes has sifted through the mountain of complex ideas and pulled out the simple, useful principles every Christian can do in faithful obedience to the Great Commission.
The strengths of Discipleship Uncomplicated are many. It's a simple book any pastor, Bible study leader, or faithful Christian can hand to anyone else in the Church to get them started in the disciple-making process. Because the book is short and simple, the learning process is simple, and the reader can take the lessons of this book and apply them immediately. The tips and summaries keep the already-uncomplicated material grounded in reality. As each chapter looks to biblical principle, the Bible remains in view of every principle. And finally, because the goal is simplicity, Haynes took good, but more complex material, and simplified it. For example, Hayne's discussion on social spaces comes from a more extensive conversation among many books on the same topic. Few people have the time to read multiple books, so Haynes took the most applicable material and put it in easy to hear and do terms.
A weakness of Discipleship Uncomplicated is a natural by-product of its strength. In keeping things short and simple, little attention is given to the cultural and contextual nuances of discipleship that may come up for the reader. This is not to say that the book should include every possibility, but, for example, the few pages on spacial dynamics were only enough to explain the general concept yet not enough to give the undergirding and differences across cultures or contexts. The additional material would not complicate discipleship; however, providing too much content begins to subtract from the ease of use this book offers.
Discipleship Uncomplicated is great for jumpstarting a dead or limping along discipleship effort. It is formatted to work well with small groups or even a church-wide discipleship program. It's cost effective and won't eat up too much time to read. For these reasons, I highly recommend Discipleship Uncomplicated for individuals who want to obey the Great Commission. I also encourage pastors and small group leaders to give this book your consideration as a resource for equipping those you pastor, teach or lead.