Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Among Wolves, by Dhati Lewis

I'm impressed with Dhati Lewis.  He is pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta.  I'd go, if I lived nearby.  He is passionate about Jesus, especially about Christians' call to make disciples.  As a black pastor serving in an urban church, Lewis says he has written Among Wolves: Disciple-Making in the City so that "my generation will be the last generation of urban practitioners forced to leave the urban context in order to be discipled." 

To Lewis, discipleship is not optional, it is central to the mission of the church in the world.  "Disciple-making is not A ministry of the church; is IS the ministry of the church."  Discipleship is reproducing who you are in the context of the church family, through life lived together.  In contrast to some models of discipleship, it "is not simply a one-on-one appointment twice a month with someone who is more mature in their faith. . . . It is not a meeting.  It is not mentorship.  It is not me teaching you what I know."  Truth.

In the end, I was bit disappointed by the vagueness of Lewis's prescriptions.  His church is called Blueprint because they want to be a blueprint from which other disciple-making churches can be built.  But there wasn't much here that I could take as a blueprint to build discipleship into my Christian life and walk.  I was also disappointed by the lack of "urban" emphasis.  Lewis is black, and I presume the neighborhood his church is in has lots of black residents, but other than his repeated assertion that he doesn't want black Christians to be "forced to leave the urban context" for discipleship, very little was said about any unique challenges of church life and discipleship in an urban setting.  Obviously, there's nothing wrong with a book about discipleship that can be applied in any church setting, but when it purports to address a unique church niche, it should live up to the cover copy.

I applaud Lewis's commitment to making disciples.  I agree with his re-orientation of what we think of as disciple-making.  Discipleship is a whole-life project, not a segmented part of the Christian life but intrinsic in the meaning of the church as the family of God.  To make disciples, we have to be in family relationship with other Christians, and to reach people we have to do so in context.  Lewis has a good word for the church to be family and to "transmit and embody the life of Jesus through the life of his followers."  Amen.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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