If you aren’t familiar with Mike Breen, he and his organization 3DM are devoted to helping local churches make discipleship the number one priority. It seems natural to lay the framework of discipleship first and then leadership development on top of that – which is exactly what Breen has done with this book. It seems to flow naturally out of what has already been written.
1. Just by looking at my finished book, I know that it is a worthwhile read. How? Because I look at the notes in the margin, the underlining and the dog-eared pages. There are lots of those. Breen has a way of taking complex concepts and breaking them down into simple (though not simplistic) ways of understanding. I particular liked how he discussed the filters of recruiting leaders and what to look for. This is extremely helpful for our context of ministry in the Philadelphia area. I’ve already recommended this book to other young pastors, leaders and church planters – especially those just starting out.
2. It is a good mixture of theological, philosophical and practical. Most books are either highly practical with little of the theological or philosophical meat or they are very heady with little to no practical application. Finding this balance is difficult, but Breen seems to find it well in his writing. This book is no exception. This book balances the why, the what and the how.
3. Breen asks great questions for leaders and pastors and teams to consider. I always appreciate thoughtful, purposeful questions oriented around discipleship and mission. I’ve noted them in order to ask our leaders in the coming weeks. I know these questions will generate good discussion and move us more into the mission of what God has called our church to become.
4. Breen shares his bread-and-butter diagrams that are found in all of his other books. But this time he fleshes them out further with more “meat” to the bones of the diagram. This is helpful to think more deeply about these visuals. I appreciate these diagrams a great deal, because I am a visual learner.
1. The packaging and price point. I have wondered quite a bit about the cover image – and I don’t get it. An assembly line factory look where we pump out leaders? (Ironically, what he writes in the book specifically talks about the opposite of creating a volunteer pipeline). Sheep and shepherds (I presume) on the cover – and yet his exploration of APEPT (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) expresses that all (not just shepherds) are important to the process. Cover are important (whether we like to admit it or not, despite the popular adage, all of us are prone to judge a book by its cover). In addition, the lamination on the binding on the book began to crack and come apart before I had even finished the book. It wasn’t terrible, but definitely noticeable (this hasn’t happened when reading other books before). It feels a little “self-published” in quality (but it could have been that it was just my individual copy was slightly defective and not all copies).
When I worked in the publishing industry out of college, I learned of the formula used widely by publishers for creating the price point of a book. For every 20 pages of a book it costs $1. A paperback book is an extra $1 and a hardcover is an additional $2. (For a well-known, highly popular author add an additional $1-$2). For example, a 198 page paperback book written by someone most wouldn’t immediately recognize the author’s name should cost around $11 and a 217 page hardcover book written by a well recognized name (Max Lucado, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, etc) should cost around $14. (Notice it next time you are at a bookstore. It’s a fun game to play). This book on the 3DM website is listed for $20 (almost $22 on Amazon) – although the Kindle price is appropriately listed at $10. As with other resources of 3DM, I think the resources are priced a bit higher than they probably should be comparatively speaking.
2. If you’ve read Breen’s stuff before, there is a lot of overlap. Granted, Mike mentioned this in the introduction of the book and prepares the reader for overlap, so I’ll give him that. However, I was still expecting to see a higher percentage of new, fresh material – though what he did repeat and flesh out was helpful (see comment above).
3. The unwritten implication of Missional Communities. Breen addresses Missional Communities in the book (like he does in all of his books). There is incredible benefit to MC’s and some of my friends who pastor missional churches use them in their contexts. Some have found them to be very helpful and others tell me they have flopped. Though I don’t believe 3DM would say Missional Communities are the only way to structure for the creation of a discipling culture in a local church setting, many times it feels as though this is implied. 3DM talks a great deal about understanding your context in ministry and reading what works and what doesn’t regarding fruitfulness and effectiveness in discipling others – and yet at times it seems that it is implied there is only one way of doing it. This has left me a bit confused as I read 3DM material.
Overall, it is a good resource – and I recommend it. It is solid and will provide pastors and leaders with helpful, practical ways to think about multiplication rather than addition in your ministry regarding leadership development.