Aspire: Book Interview w/Matt Rogers

onairMatt Rogers recently sat down for an interview about his new discipleship resource titled Aspire. Here's what came out: A book like Aspire seems like a strange project to undertake as a new church planter. Why did you write the book?

Church planting actually forced me to write this book. I knew that I was planting a church to make disciples, but I, like many pastors I know, I myself had never been discipled. Week after week I was challenging my people to make disciples, but I found that I was increasingly relying on my sermons and the church’s programs to do the work of disciple-making. As a result, I was nervous that the church was doing the same. They heard the call to disciple-making and knew this was the measure of our church’s health. Increasingly I had well-meaning, long-time Christians who seemed insecure and discouraged by their lack of clarity on how to go about the task that I was calling them to. The final push came during membership interviews at the church. We had so many new believers, and many of those who had professed faith decades ago lacked a basic framework for a life of worship. The rare exceptions were largely attributable to para-church ministries—young men and women who had been discipled well through groups like Cru and Navigators. If I were going to plant and pastor a disciple-making church, I knew that we had to have a plan.

How did you develop the plan for Aspire?

God sent me a guy in need of discipleship very early on in the life of the church. I knew immediately that he was a gift of His grace to me. Rather than creating theoretical tools, I knew had a person who placed himself under my care. I told him that he was going to be a project and that I was going to build a discipleship plan using the raw material of his life. I met with him for three years and doodled notes and ideas about the process in my journal. As we moved through various concepts and stages, I went back, edited my ideas, organized them in a coherent framework and the result was Aspire.

Tell me about the plan you outline in Aspire?

Three big themes emerged from this relationship:

1. A need for a holistic understanding of the mission of God in the world. 2. An application of the gospel to life in a way that results in authentic transformation. 3. An understanding of the life of mission that should result from a life transformed by the grace of God.

These themes serve as the topic of the three sections of Aspire. Each is subdivided into 12 chapters that can be used as weekly studies for the discipleship relationship. The idea would be that a person could use the tool over the course of an entire year—doing one section in the fall, one in the spring and another over the summer.

Each week is meant to provide a rich biblical foundation for the subject under consideration as well as allow space for a reflective journaling. This is not intended to be a theological textbook nor a teaching guide, but rather a path for one-on-one discipleship that is accessible to those seeking to be obedient to the Great Commission.

What are the dangers of a tool like Aspire?

There is no one-size-fits all model for disciple-making. The danger could be that people would assume that everyone’s path to discipleship would function in the same linear path. This will not be the case. For some, the path will take longer and they will need to tackle one week per month rather than one a year. Some will need to return to a topic in Aspire long after they have moved past that topic. Some will be faithful for one section and then stall out and will come back and pick up the next round two years later. Some may not do the reading and will need to talk through the ideas when you meet together. The beauty of the book is that it can be scaled to the unique needs of each person in a discipleship relationship. While the book will take time and effort, it is always better to make disciples well than to make them quickly.

Who would benefit from using Aspire?

New Christians or those who have not been discipled can pick up the book and get started. Ideally, they would be in a healthy church where they can find a mentor to walk through the process with them. Those who have walked with Jesus for some time can use it as a tool to grow in intentionality in making disciples. They could meet with someone in the church, a co-worker or neighbor, or even use it as a tool for discipleship in their home. Pastors can use it to create a disciple-making culture in their church as well. It could serve as a starting point for new Christians, prospective members or the entire congregation. Finally, the book provides a robust foundation for an internship or residency project in churches seeking to develop and deploy future leaders.

What are you hoping results from the book?

I praying that we see a resurgence of relational disciple-making in the local church in our day. If this is going to happen, we, as the church, are going to need to grow in our proficiency as disciple-makers. And it can’t stop there. We must make disciples who know how to make other disciples. The multiplication effect that could result from such a strategy is the impetus for writing the book and for my pastoral ministry.

Order your copy of Aspire today at Seed Publishing Group. Also, a 10% discount is available for orders of 25 copies or more.