One year after writing his most difficult book Erasing Hell, Francis Chan teams up with Mark Beuving to publish Multiply. At 336 pages, this is Chans largest book published to date.
I am uncertain what Beuvings exact contributions are in this book. There is no mention of his name. I did notice he had a hand in creating some of the workbooks and video series for Chans other projects. He served as an associate professor at Eternity Bible College that Chan co-founded. He published his own book in 2014 titled, Resonate: Enjoying Gods Gift of Music. In 2016, Beuving moved on from Eternity Bible College to become an associate pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, California. He is currently one of the writers for the blog Jackass Theology. Yes, that is the name of the blog. There is a well intentioned meaning explained on its homepage. But when it comes to Multiply, I do not sense I am reading anything from Beuving in his own words. Since Multiply can be used as an interactive workbook, my guess is that the study and discussion questions are from Beuving while all the writing is from Chan.
Multiply is a fitting title in relation to its subtitle called Disciples making Disciples. This is in reference to Jesuss great commission in Matthew 28 to where he commands his followers to go and make disciples of all nations. We often hear the words disciple or discipleship, but what do these words mean?
Chan describes a disciple as a student or apprentice. A follower of Jesus. Discipleship is teaching people to obey what Jesus commanded, thus becoming a disciple. The multiply effect is when a disciple becomes a disciple maker. This is how Christianity and the church exploded from 12 people to 2.2 billion around the world today. People obeyed Jesus command. Chan shares how discipleship is a lifetime of devotion to studying scriptures and investing in the people around us. Helping people change is what discipleship is all about. It involves deep relationships. But it is not only studying the Bible to gain knowledge.
Chan believes that we do not read the Bible. The Bible reads us. It is not an inanimate object we pull information from. Bible study is incomplete until it turns into obedience and transforms us. The majority of Multiply is Chan walking readers through how to study the Bible, along with understanding the Old and New Testament. He skims through some key connecting stories of both testaments. But he is still able to explain the Bible as a unifying story without readers feeling disconnected or confused. I was reading through these 336 pages at a smooth pace rarely having to stop.
What I appreciate about Multiply, is that it also functions as an interactive workbook. This is not a book where you read to gain information and do nothing. You actually use this book to help disciple others. There are several discussion questions with provided space to write in. There are loads of scriptural passages to read, pray, and meditate on. At the end of each chapter, Chan asks readers to watch the video session at multipymovement.com. This website is the best thing about Multiply. You actually do not have to buy this book. The whole book can be read on this website for free. All the video sessions for each chapter are right there for free as well. This is pretty awesome considering many authors charge an extra cost for their workbook and video series. Chan decided to make the book and videos free and accessible for everyone.
Making disciples isn't about gathering pupils to listen to your teaching. The real focus is not on teaching people at allthe focus is on loving them. Jesus's 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. It's about loving those people enough to help them see their need to love and obey God. It's about bringing them to the Savior and allowing Him to set them free from the power of sin and death and transform them into loving followers of Jesus Christ. It's about glorifying God by obediently making disciples who will teach others to love and obey God. - page 44
Approaching the Bible with humility means that we're laying aside our agendas and looking for what God will teach us. Every time you find yourself struggling to accept something the Bible says, you've found an area of your life that needs to be brought into submission to Christ. Unfortunately, we often waste these opportunities by finding ways to explain away what the Bible is saying to us. And that's the real test when you find that your beliefs or lifestyle don't match the Bible, do you assume that the Bible is wrong? Every time we find ourselves disagreeing with God, we can be certain that we are the ones who need to change. God didn't give us the Bible to help us feel better about the way we do things; He wrote the Bible to tell us what He wants us to be and do. Until we begin reading the Bible in order to draw close to God and do what He says, we are completely missing the point. - page 103
I would caution Chan on his usage of statements not backed by statistics. For example, on page 51 he speaks about Western culture being individualistic. He claims that Very often, the Western church tends toward this type of individualism. He may be right. I do not doubt the individualism influence culture has on the Western church. But with hundreds of thousands of churches in the United States alone, how does Chan know that very often they tend to individualism? Also on page 75, Chan speaks on the importance of how a church pursues Gods mission within its surrounding community. He states that Too many churches miss out on the vibrant life Jesus wants us to experience as we pursue His mission together. Again, he could be right. He has visited many churches. But in the context of millions of churches worldwide, how would he know that too many miss out on this vibrant life? Statistical support would have been helpful for Chan to strengthen those claims.
When it comes to Multiply, Chan continues to show why he is a tremendous speaker and author. He simplifies the often confusing aspects of the Bible such as sacrifices, atonement, and covenants. He shows how discipleship is a lifelong process where we are continuously made more and more like Jesus. Multiply is a foundational book for anyone serious about not only learning about the Bible, but allowing it to transform them. Chan and Beuving provide the tools to not only learn about discipleship, but to actually live it out. Discipleship does not have to be difficult. We all have relationships. It is a matter of how deep our devotion is to investing in them.
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