Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan (Book Review)

Multiply

What books do I think every Christian ought to read? If you had asked me that a few weeks ago, without hesitation I would have said to read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love and Forgotten God.

It’s not that Francis said anything new in his books. They just restate what is found in the Bible. The problem is that the church seems to have forgotten what it is that God has called us to do. And Francis has been doing a tremendous job of calling us back to what we should have been doing all along.

With that in mind, I was thrilled when I found out that he was writing a new book, calling the church to accountability in a hugely misunderstood and neglected area of our faith—discipleship. Having now read the book, I can say that it absolutely lives up to my expectations.

You need to read this book!

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving, is something I believe the church today truly needs. As with his other books, this one does not say anything new, but it does bring to the forefront a blatant failure of our generation.

However, the purpose of this book is not to simply criticize the church for its failure to multiply. Rather, it is designed to help us fulfill our commissions—not through programs or gimmicks, but biblically—one on one, “disciples making disciples” within the community of the church.

While Multiply follows in the same vein as Francis’ first two books, I did immediately notice one big difference—the size. That’s because Multiply is pretty much two books in one (but for the same price). While Crazy Love and Forgotten God are close to 200 pages, Multiply is well over 300.

The book is divided into five parts, but from my reading, they seem like two major divisions.

  • The first half of the book calls the church back to what we should be doing (parts 1–2).
  • The second half provides tools to help us do it (parts 3–5).

“Part I: Living as a Disciple Maker” defines discipleship, and it lays out the Biblical mandate for all believers to be disciples and make disciples.

Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. (16)

The problem is, many in the church want to “confess that Jesus is Lord,” yet they don’t believe that He is their master. (20)

Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first-century church to do something different? None of us would claim to believe this, but somehow we have created a church culture where the paid ministers do the “ministry,” and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or “fed.” We have moved so far away from Jesus’s command that many Christians don’t have a frame of reference for what disciple making looks like. (30)

But making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker. (31)

Paul saw the church as a community of redeemed people in which each person is actively involved in doing the work of ministry. The pastor is not the minister—at least not in the way we typically think of a minister. The pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister. (34)

Jesus’ call to make disciples includes teaching people to be obedient followers of Jesus, but the teaching isn’t the end goal. Ultimately, it’s all about being faithful to God’s call to love the people around you. (44)

“Part II: Living as the Church” reminds us that the church is a community. Chan explains the problems with our western individualistic lifestyle and how it goes against God’s plan for his church. He continues by showing what the church should look like when we work together for God’s purposes.

While every individual needs to obey Jesus’s call to follow, we cannot follow Jesus as individuals. The proper context for every disciple maker is the church. … It’s impossible to “one another” yourself. (51)

It’s not a social club; it’s not a building, and it’s not an option. The church is life and death. (52)

The church is a group of redeemed people that live and serve together in such a way that their lives and communities are transformed. (52–53)

Your problems are not just your problems—ultimately, they belong to the church body that God has placed you in. You are called to encourage, challenge, and help the other Christians in your life, and they are called to do the same for you. If you wait until all of your own issues are gone before helping others, it will never happen. (55–56)

Bearing one another’s burdens is not easy, but it is also not optional. (61)

Helping people change is what discipleship is all about. (63)

We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light so that we can proclaim God’s excellencies to a watching world. (74)

God has blessed you so that you will use whatever He has given you for His glory, not yours. Ultimately, we should expect God’s plan to lead us places that we wouldn’t naturally go. (84–85)

As I mentioned earlier, the second half of the book provides tools for making disciples. “Part III: How to Study the Bible” is a great crash-course in hermeneutics (biblical interpretation).

Francis gives some right and wrong reasons for studying the Bible, and he ultimately comes down on the fact that we are supposed to change as a result of reading our Bibles.

He also gives practical tips for reading the Bible concerning context, interpretation vs. application, personal biases, etc.

In parts 4–5, Chan gives a broad overview of the Old and New Testaments. He hits on most of the key points while keeping it moving quickly.

Most of this information will not be new to many Christians, but it is a good resource for new believers. It allows one to become quickly oriented with the overarching account of biblical history and God’s plan of redemption.

Furthermore, I think that Chan did a good job of keeping it neutral by avoiding most of the key theological controversies among evangelical Christians (i.e. Calvinism vs. Arminianism). At the same time, he in no way shied from presenting the core truths of the Christian faith.

The book wraps up with a much-needed call to action. Francis and Mark do not simply want readers to increase their knowledge about discipleship; they want believers to actually start living out their faith and making disciples.

In addition to the book itself, there are many free videos and study guides available at www.multiplymovement.com.

I highly recommend Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.

Disclaimer: The publisher, David C. Cook, sent me a free copy of the book to review.

Update: The whole book is available free online! Check it out at Christian Books Free.