Here is my look at The Bonhoeffer Project:
I. Key websites:
thebonhoefferproject.com: Primary site
lbcf.org: The church Brandon Cook pastors
billhull.net: Bill Hull’s website
II. Key books:
Read by Me:
Conversion and Discipleship
eBook The False Promise of Discipleship
The Disciple Making Pastor, and others in the past
See http://www.billhull.net/book_store for more
III. Training offered:
• The Bonhoeffer Project is a year-long discipleship program with 10 monthly sessions. This community starts in January 2017 and will be led by Bill Hull and Brandon Cook.
• $1500 for the one-year program, which covers 10 meetings and materials. Payment is due upon acceptance to The Bonhoeffer Project.
• The training sessions follow the outline of the book Conversion and Discipleship
• “The project is not a building with a staff. It is an idea, something patterned after Bonhoeffer’s Grand Experiment. From 1935-1940, he trained pastors in an illegal seminary. The students were instructed first and foremost in discipleship. The idea is simple: eight to ten people spend a year together studying, discussing, and doing discipleship. It will meet ten times at a once-a-month pace (taking some time off around Christmas and Easter). Participants will read, discuss, debate, plan, strategize, and do a bit of life together.”
• “The goal of the Bonhoeffer Project is to encourage each participant to become a disciple making leader. Once that decision has been made, then to provide the participant with the knowledge necessary to carry out a plan for making disciples who also will make disciples. The Bonhoeffer Project firmly believes that this is best done in a community of like-minded persons—that is why the project itself is a community.”
• “The Bonhoeffer Project helps each participant craft a plan that is biblically sound and a good fit for their ministry context. Each of the ten gatherings will focus on a specific subject that then is followed by a monthly project.”
Overview videos: http://thebonhoefferproject.com/videos-resources
IV. Summary of Bonhoeffer Project:
Some of what I could say here has been included in the quotes above explaining the training.
The key thing to note is that unlike 3DM and Sonlife what we are looking at here is a single ministry program of training/mentoring leaders to be disciple makers.
The basic curriculum is “What is Jesus speaking to you and how will you respond?” This is the curriculum though other materials are also used.
• “The Bonhoeffer Project is designed to solve a problem and to start a revolution…The problem we want to solve is a gospel that says, “You can become a Christian and go to heaven, and you don’t need to follow Jesus—that is optional.” We challenge this gospel that is now a cultural artifact, the default gospel in the Western Hemisphere. We not only challenge it, we want it changed, we want it gone. We endeavor to replace it with the gospel that Jesus taught and that Paul, Peter and the Apostles preached: All who are called to salvation are called to discipleship—no exceptions, no excuses. Its operative words are “Follow Me.” “
This ministry, which is personified in Bill Hull, has been strongly influenced by Dallas Willard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He also references John Wesley’s methodology. (“I believe that Jesus’s way is reflected in Wesley’s way.”) This ministry has been stimulated in large measure by the sense of a need for a theology of discipleship.
• “Discipleship occurs when someone answers the call to learn from Jesus and others how to live his or her life as though Jesus were living it. As a result, the disciple becomes the kind of person who naturally does what Jesus did.”
• “A disciple is someone who has decided to live their life as if Jesus were trying to live it.” Discipleship is the process by which someone learns to live and love like Jesus
• The end point of discipleship: Loving others as Jesus does; to be an ambassador
The Bonhoeffer Project, in isolation from Hull’s other work, is more focused on the theological challenge of discipleship and less so on the programmatic. It is also focused on leaders. It seeks to change the way we call for people to respond to the gospel, what the gospel actually is and how we then make disciples.
In addition to the model of Jesus, they also draw on the example of Paul and his work with the Ephesian church. And notably, on contrast to 3DM, they see the Ephesians 4 “five-fold ministry” as referring to leaders, not everyone.
This ministry sees, as do the other two, four phases in Jesus’ ministry.
• Come and see > explore
• Come follow me > learn
• Come be with me > serve
• Remain in me > multiply
An anecdotal snapshot of the approach is on page 203 of Conversion and Discipleship, where the story of a pastor wondering what to do now, after a conference with Hull:
• “Don’t start any programs, don’t make announcements, and don’t do anything public.”
• “You should go home, get around a table with your eight pastors, and ask them to go with you on a personal journey of discipleship for one full year.”
• Following that, he was told if there was still interest, invite others to join the journey
The Implement Your Plan worksheet has three simple questions:
• What is a disciple?
• How do you make disciples?
• What difference will these disciples make?