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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Making Christian Disciples (book review: Christianity Today)

The Dynamics of Personal Follow-up, by Gary W. Kuhne
Christianity Today
January 21, 1977

In 1871 A. B. Bruce published his masterly volume on discipleship entitled The Training of the Twelve. Since then some counterparts to this monumental work have appeared, but the century-old Bruce volume is still the bench mark for works on discipleship in the Body of Christ.
However, having the bench mark does not mean we need to stop sighting for new levels of discipling proficiency. Gary Kuhne’s The Dynamics of Personal Follow-up is an orderly and systematic approach that any Christian can adopt (or adapt) to further his or her own discipling ministry. Kuhne writes out of his Campus Crusade for Christ background, and his book is pure, vintage Crusade material in both content and arrangement. While one can find fault with the theology (or lack of theology), one cannot find fault with the author’s clarity and harmony as he proposes a step-by-step method of follow-up.

The Christian Church is not exactly bereft of follow-up programs. One can turn to Kennedy (Evangelism Explosion), Bright (“Here’s Life America”), the Southern Baptists (WIN), or Chuck Miller’s conferences to get some training for a discipling ministry. However, each of these programs takes a certain degree of a priori commitment to the program and some ready cash. Kuhne lets you in on his program for a few dollars and a couple of hours of easy reading.

The first half of his program runs about 150 pages and covers the principles and general guidelines for effective follow-up. He has chapters such as “Developing a Meaningful Relationship with a New Believer” and “Dealing with Common Problems Encountered in Personal Follow-up.” No theologian or exegete, Kuhne nevertheless brings practical experience to bear on his methodology. Anyone who has ever tried to follow up a recent convert and had his or her ears pinned back by “the wily one” will appreciate another warrior’s testimony and help in this difficult area.
The second half of his program is an extremely helpful step-by-step schedule of follow-up appointments. This section, running about 50 pages, is so clear that a relatively new believer will easily be able to become a “multiplier” (the goal of discipleship, in the author’s opinion). Each follow-up appointment (there are ten in all) is broken down into five sections: objectives, review of previous appointments, the lesson, and a way of presenting the lesson, and the assignment. All in all, this is a commendable effort to put a follow-up ministry down where the nonprofessional can deal with it.

Inevitably some will discount Kuhne’s approach as superficial, too programmatic, or too technological. While there may be an element of truth in these criticisms, the response must be: “This man has given us his way of doing it. If you don’t approve of his method, let’s hear yours.

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