Is something missing in your journey toward spiritual maturity? According to the authors, it could be because the usual discipleship model is only utilizing half of your brain — namely the left half. Left brain discipleship focuses on beliefs, doctrines, willpower and spiritual disciplines. The idea is that if we understand the truth and think correctly, we will make wiser choices and grow spiritually. Although this is certainly part of the equation, it ignores right brain skills such as loving attachments, joy, emotional development and identity. Often the result is Christians who know what is right, but often don’t behave that way.
The remedy, according to Wilder and Hendricks is to practice and improve the “neglected soil” that most of us are growing in. By adding joy, relational attachments, and a healthy group identity to our Christian communities, they will be able to correct members in a way that leads to growth in Christlike character.
There are group discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which would make this book a good choice for a small group to study together. At the end are a number of appendices including:
- Soil Assessment Questions (for evaluating your group or church)
- Joy on Demand Exercises (to help reset your default emotional state)
- Pseudo-Joy Checklist (things you may be substituting for true joy)
- Enemy Mode Checklist (to identify how your “relational circuits” are working}
- Maturity Stages (a list of the needs and tasks of each maturity level)
This book appealed to me because I’m very interested in brain science. It’s definitely food for thought. Are we putting the cart before the horse in training disciples? Should we be working on the culture and climate of our communities at least as hard as we work at educating our members? The answer is probably yes. The difficulty will be in persuading Christians to change old habits and ways of pursuing spiritual growth.
VERDICT: 4 Stars. I liked it and would enjoy reading more about this topic.
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