Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review - The Walk

Author Stephen Smallman describes his new book as essentially 'Discipleship for Dummies'. It's called "The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus". While aimed primarily at new Christians, it's also very helpful for those who have wandered away and are looking to take a fresh look at their faith. I first learned of this excellent book from Justin Taylor's blog.

The strength of The Walk is that it really assumes no prior understanding or background at all. It doesn't even assume the reader has yet decided to profess faith in Christ, so there's no nagging here and no jargon unless he's teaching what a word means. The approach is to walk alongside the reader as they work through The Gospel of Mark and the Book of Romans. I have to stress that even though the book starts basic, it is not simplistic, and by the end the reader will have tackled some difficult subjects. On the back cover Smallman describes this book as being for people who want to follow Jesus, "but"... don't know anything about the Bible, don't have a Christian background, have drifted so far away they don't know how to start over, or who have no idea where to begin. With the heart of a pastor, Steve does a great job of doing this in a manner that is warm, practical, and distinctly gospel-centered.

There are several ways the book can be used, but it really begs to be read and discussed with a friend or group. With twelve chapters and discussion questions, it would work well in a Sunday School or small group setting. It should be especially effective in a discipling relationship or mentoring group.

Table of Contents:
Part One: The Basics
1. What is a Disciple?
2. Do I Have to Go to Church?
3. Learning to Read the Bible and Pray
Part Two: Discipleship through the Gospel
Step One: Know the gospel itself
4. The Gospel of God
Step Two: Know how you came to believe the gospel
5. The Call to Salvation and Discipleship
6. Conversion
Step Three: Know the benefits of believing the gospel
7. A New Record: Justification
8. A New Life: Sanctification and Adoption
9. A New Future: Glorification
Step Four: Life a Life that flows from the gospel
10. Faith Expressing Itself in Love
11. The Gospel Changes Everything
Part Three: Following Jesus on His Mission
12. Disciples Making Disciples
- A Final Word to New and Renewed Followers of Jesus: Now What?
- Some appendices with more info, suggested reading, and follow-up plans.

Each chapter has Bible reading that is explained/discussed, sidebars to address likely questions, a helpful summary, words of encouragement, and assignments such as specific Bible reading. If you're looking to take new or renewed steps walking with Christ, or have a heart to help those who do, I recommend you take a look at The Walk. You can check out the preface and first chapter for free online.

The book is available at Amazon and other retailers, including a nice discount if you order from the Westminster Bookstore.

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