Book Review: Journey to Jesus
Author: Robert E. Webber
Publisher: Abingdon Press ISBN: 9780687068401
I am probably not in a great majority, but I found this proposal for a model of discipleship by Robert Webber stimulating and refreshing. What is so refreshing (to me) is that
it does not promote a new or revolutionary approach and it certainly does not attempt to be “relevant” to a contemporary culture. Although the back cover of Journey to Jesus claims this approach to worship, evangelism, and nurture mission is “cutting edge,” Webber reaches back to Christianity’s ancient roots in order to define and develop his model. This ancient approach is precisely why I am likely in a small group that actually appreciates and will promote this model for spiritual formation.
What does this model of evangelism look like?
Webber’s description (pg. 10) follows: “First, the content is grounded in the biblical and historical message of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Second, the style has the flexibility to be integrated into any type of setting. Third, the structure is characterized by four stages of development and three passage rites which mark the seeker’s journey from conversion to a period of discipleship to a time for equipping the believer for spiritual warfare, finally, to incorporation into active church membership.”
Webber goes on to describe the four stages or phases in detail. Phase one deals with evangelizing the seeker aka unchurched. Phase two discusses how to disciple the hearer aka new believer. Phase three looks at equipping the kneeler aka maturing believer, and phase four focuses on the process of incorporating the faithful aka new member into the church. Each of the phases transitions to the next with a rite of conversion.
I very much appreciate the style the book was written. It’s obvious that Webber (deceased) writes from the heart of an educator. The writing is clear, there are multiple illustrations, and there are extensive notes and additional resource recommendations throughout. In addition, Webber has included a leader’s guide to help teach this development model or to serve as a discussion starter if reading the book in a group.
As a pastor who has been involved in Christian education and discipleship methods for many years, I think there is much to be gleaned from Webber’s observations and proposal. I’m not sure that I would use the method as a blueprint, but I’m certain it could function as a guide. I believe there are principles worth considering in Journey to Jesus that might stimulate our thinking about some of the ways we have approached mentoring others in the ways of Jesus Christ. The book is worth reading for this reason alone.