New Title From Rod Culbertson: The “Disciple Investing” LifeHelping Others Grow in Their Relationship with Christ
Have you ever wondered if you could help another person become a stronger, more consistent Christian? At some point in your own Christian walk, you probably received help, guidance, instruction, and encouragement from another believer in order to seek Christ and become more like him. How grateful we are for those who invested themselves in us! I believe that you personally can help someone else understand and live out their faith in Christ. The “Disciple Investing” Life is written to help you invest your life in another person who wants to grow as a Christian. Read it and discover how God can use you in someone else’s life in their journey toward Christlikeness.
Rod Culbertson is the Associate Professor of Practical Theology and the Dean of Student Development at Reformed Theological Seminary/Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Rod started Reformed University Fellowship in the state of Florida, working at the University of Florida, and in addition to campus ministry, he has been involved in church planting.
What prompted you to write this book?
From infancy, Christians, including my mother in particular, have been investing themselves in me, trying to point me to Christ. I didn’t respond until college, but their investment in me did not go unnoticed. When I became a Christian, I truly wanted to pour into other people’s walks with Christ as well, which is what I have done now for over 40 years. In time, I learned a lot of principles that were useful in helping others grow as Christians and become more Christ-like, by his grace. I eventually realized that I could put those principles in a book and hopefully benefit others. Here is the first attempt!
How would you say that “The ‘Disciple Investing’ Life” could benefit the reader?
I believe that the book is very practical in nature. I try to help the reader realize that there is a cost to investing in the lives of others, one that they should count. I give suggestions about the direction they could take with another person as they seek to help. The book provides some suggested Scripture passages that they can cover with another individual or individuals in order to help them grow (you don’t have to be a Bible scholar, only a student of the Bible). And I attempt to describe a realistic, disciple investing encounter so the reader can see how this relational style of discipleship can be done.
Is there anything unique about this book?
I believe that there are three chapters that are particularly unique to the book. One chapter provides a long list of topics that a potential disciple investor can use in ministering to another person. The list is composed primarily of Scripture passages and the disciple investor is encouraged to simply ask questions of the respective passage in order to address needs in the life of the disciple. Another chapter provides real life examples of different ways for investing in another believer’s life and the premise is that there is not just one method for doing so. The final chapter is set up like a story, demonstrating how two Christians meet and get together on a regular basis, as they look at “The Lord’s Prayer” in order to discover what it might teach them about prayer.
Why do you call the book, “The ‘Disciple Investing’ Life,” using that phrase instead of words like “discipleship” or “disciple making”?
Well, to answer that question, I probably need to quote from a portion of the book. Here goes, “I would like to pose my basic premise to you once more: Disciple investing is something you can be involved in and also something that you can do. God can use your efforts, energy, time and attention to help change another person’s life. Of course, it is Christ who is using you and Christ, through His Spirit and Word, who is doing the transformation. But you have the potential to make a difference.” Ultimately, while we may very well be involved in the process of help another person become more like Christ and to follow him more seriously as a disciple, all we are really doing is investing in them. My premise is that Jesus is always actively discipling his followers, just as he discipled the original twelve. He is discipling me today; he is discipling others – it is his work! But I can play my part, which means I invest in others and I watch Jesus disciple them through me. Investing can be done in many ways, as I try to demonstrate in the book, but ultimately, Jesus does the work! I just don’t want to be found uninvolved in what he is doing.
Is this a book for everyone?
I don’t necessarily think it is a book for everyone, but if any Christian wonders how he or she can make a difference in another person’s life and help that person grow as a Christian, “The ‘Disciple Investing’ Life” would be a great place for them to start. The book assumes that the reader has a relationship with Christ, is growing and wants to grow more, while helping another person to grow with Christ also. The book includes some motivational encouragement and practical advice if a person wants to seriously get involved in another person’s life and to help them know Christ better. I believe that people in the church, as well as anyone involved in Christian ministry and leadership training – and especially campus ministry organizations – will enjoy the book and profit from it.
Are you thinking about writing anymore books on the topic of “Disciple Investing”?
Yes, I have written a lot on this topic and originally wrote a very lengthy book on disciple investing when I was on sabbatical three years ago. The book was actually considered by some publishers to be too long for publishing, but thankfully, Wipf and Stock was willing to let me work through the material and at least try to organize it into smaller sections that could comprise one readable book. Now, I hope to accomplish the goal of creating two more books on disciple investing in the coming year, as the Lord allows. We’ll see.
An Excerpt from The “Disciple Investing” Life
…it is my contention (and the basic premise of this book) that Jesus primarily loves to use ordinary people (believers) as the conduits of His ministry in others’ lives. Jesus, the supreme discipler, is doing the work and we are simply investing in others as a part of His plan. We are cooperating with Jesus as His faithful, humble servants. As His followers, having been made alive by the Spirit, we naturally want to be a part of the building and extension of Christ’s Kingdom. You, or any believer, can contribute to the nurture and growth of another believer (or even the conversion of an unbeliever) if you are willing to try. Jesus can use YOU! You can be a part of Jesus’ process of discipling others simply by investing yourself in their lives. How exciting! And that is what this short book is about.
After I became a Christian, many people spoke into my life and gave me guidance. Some gave me counsel and supported me in my struggles as a young man and a new believer (and those struggles were often seemingly overwhelming and at times both fearful and tearful). Others led by example or even from a distance. But their influence did not go unnoticed. The list of names of people who helped me as a new believer is too long to acknowledge here. Some would not even remember me; yet I remember them with fondness and gratitude. Jesus used them to help me grow, love God more, follow Him and become more like Him. And ever since I came to Christ, I have similarly watched Jesus use me in the lives of others as well. Most of these stories are under the radar and are certainly not what some would call glamorous success stories. I haven’t amassed any fame or notoriety in my ministries or through my personal involvement in the lives of others. At this stage of my life, it is doubtful that I ever will. I haven’t made any headlines and don’t expect to do so. However, it doesn’t matter, for I believe that most ministry (pastoral or layperson) is simply carried on in the day-to-day living and sharing of ordinary life with others who are part of our world. With that perspective in mind, I must also state that initiative and willingness to be involved in the lives of others is absolutely essential to what I call the “disciple investing” life. When I look back at my ministry, from college student, continuing in seminary, on to campus ministry and later in church planting, as well as in working with seminary students at Reformed Theological Seminary, the deepest and most rewarding relationships for me have occurred with those in whom I have invested the most heavily. Almost without exception, the more personally I was involved in another’s life or others’ lives, the more blessed I was to be a part of what Jesus was doing in them and to see Him actually working through me, an inadequate sinner. This was an amazing truth, as I discovered that He could and would use me, as I was willing to be used by Him to help others grow or learn. The bottom line to “successful” disciple investing is simply to have interest in the spiritual well-being of another individual or a group of individuals and to give yourself willingly to them. Anyone, even the most extreme introvert, can do this through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The life and enablement is His to give – and YOU can do it.
“Making disciples remains the ultimate and urgent Gospel mandate for the Church. It is imperative, then, that we who serve the Church are continually challenged and equipped for this central undertaking of ministry. We, thus, owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Rod Culbertson. The “Disciple Investing” Life is a fine pastoral resource from a trusted and seasoned seminary professor who lives out the essence of this title. I commend it to the Church with great joy.”
— Michael A. Milton, PhD, President, D. James Kennedy Institute; James Ragsdale Professor of Missions, Erskine Theological Seminary
“Read this book to be encouraged again by those who have invested in you, and to be challenged to invest yourself in the lives of others as we together become more faithful disciples of Christ. Read this book also to be reminded of the multitude of ways you need to grow as a Christian, and to learn the multitude of practical ways you can help others grow in their walk with the Lord.”
—Ric Cannada, Reformed Theological Seminary, Chancellor Emeritus
“This book will prove to be a helpful guide for those who long to invest their lives in seeing others come to know the Savior, and then to disciple them in their continued maturity and growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ.”
—David G. Sinclair Sr., Senior Pastor, Clemson Presbyterian Church, Clemson, South Carolina