Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Back in the middle of the summer I caught my first rumor that pastor Francis Chan was set to release a new book called Multiply in November. I marked it on my calendar as something to look forward to. I have read each of Chan's theology books, Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and Erasing Hell, and found enjoyment in each of them, especially Crazy Love. This new book Multiply was written about the important task given to Christians by Jesus called the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), namely that we are called to make disciples of all people. I think that providing instruction to Christians in this area is a wonderful kernel with which to write a book about. It is a topic that I know many folks struggle with when it comes to formulating a practical plan.

I can't tell you how much I wanted to like this book as I have deep respect for Chan's approach, his theology, and his passion. However, I can say that it was not worth my time. The book contains less than 100 pages that briefly touch on aspects of the importance of discipling in the church. He then devotes 200 pages of pure filler that provides a lite run-through of the Old Testament and New Testament. Where is the discussion on how to attract disciples, how to develop a plan of discipling, and how folks with different spiritual gifts should approach discipling?

I am frustrated that Chan made no attempt to discuss how to attract disciples to teach, as if everyone can just pull them in like the rabbis of old with the command, follow me. I can also assure you that leading a group of folks to train them as disciples is definitely not for everyone. In fact, I think that only a small percentage of folks have the skill set to be successful at this type of leadership work. It takes a degree of wisdom, good communication and listening ability, and a certain amount of charisma. Other folks can make an impact in the process of disciple making through their unique set of skills but more as tertiary players in the process. Said another way, not everyone makes a good teacher.

Chan also put together a series of videos on the Multiply website to go along with each subsection. He was joined in these presentations by fellow pastor David Platt who wrote the book Radical. These videos started off reasonably well, but quickly became repetitive and bland. Very little of practical value was actually said. Books like this one make me feel that an important voice for the church has been commercialized to the point that he is just another of the dozens of homogenized pastors cranking out books, not because they have a carefully crafted message from God but because their editors have given them a deadline. In this case, a great amount of effort on style, but the substance is sorely lacking.