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Becoming a Disciple, with John Hiigel

Every church leader wants to see the people they serve grow in their walk with Jesus, and it is obvious that is why John Hiigel wrote Partnering with the King: Study the Gospel of Matthew and Become a Disciple of Jesus. Join for a conversation with Professor Hiigel whose calling is to foster academic excellence and develop mature Christians. In what ways would you see Pentecostal/charismatic church leaders using your book?

John Hiigel: This book will serve any leader who is working to nurture effective disciples for Jesus. Partnering with the King is a set of thirty-one pastoral and devotional readings through the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on Jesus’ call to live with him as his disciples. By way of format, the text of Matthew is printed right in the book, portion by portion, followed by my explanations.

Partnering with the King can serve church and parachurch ministries in several ways. First, it is a book you can give to newcomers to faith. Beyond helping individual readers, it is well suited for person-to-person discipling or for discipleship training programs in the church or on the college campus. I have students who will attest that it can be helpful even for those who are still exploring whether to start the journey with Jesus. The book is by no means just for beginners, however. There is plenty of meat for veterans to Christian life, who find it to be a source of vision and spiritual stimulus.

This book on discipleship also works with groups. I have included right in the book a set of discussion and reflection questions for each of the 31 readings. That’s the right number of sessions for a group to meet weekly from fall to spring. Or for groups who want to work through it more rapidly and intensively, you could pick up the accompanying DVD that provides six-minute video introductions and discussion questions for seven meetings in a six-week period. Either group format (slower or more intensive) could work for a church’s spiritual growth groups, a leadership or mission group, an adult Sunday school class, or a college student ministry. It could also be a resource for summer discipleship and service training programs. As a professor of Biblical studies, what message would you like to convey to the Pentecostal/charismatic movement?

Richard Hays calls Gospel of Matthew “training for the kingdom of heaven.”

Hiigel: I am excited about God’s people who gather and serve as his world-changing Pentecostal/charismatic movement, because you are enacting Jesus’ vision. Three aspects of his vision in Matthew come to mind in particular. Challenging our Western culture where individualism is prized, Jesus calls us to come together. In a society where self-absorption is epidemic, Jesus facilitates the rebuilding of our character so we can serve. And in a world that esteems economic power and social status, Jesus sends us out to participate in the spiritual power that emerges from humble dependence on him.

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2014

About the Author: John L. Hiigel earned his Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary and is Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Previously, he served more than two decades as a pastor and musician in Los Angeles. He is the author of Leadership in First Corinthians (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003) and Partnering with the King: Study the Gospel of Matthew and Become a Disciple of Jesus (Paraclete Press, 2013).

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