The Gentle Art of Discipling Women

Getting older seems to level the relational playing field — at least that’s what I’m finding.

The past ten years have been enriched by relationships with women of all ages who have come to my Sunday school class or have attended our women’s group.  I’m always surprised to find common ground with younger women with whom, if it had been possible for us to have met when I was their peer, both of us in our mid-twenties, I would have been too intimidated to speak to them — beautiful, confident, married when I was blah, awkward, and single.  The silence would have been deafening, but now, in my fifties, I’m finding that there is plenty to talk about with women of all ages — especially if we’re actively nurturing an authentic faith.

In The Gentle Art of Discipling Women, Dana Yeakley draws upon her years of missionary and leadership experience with the Navigators to lend structure and focus to women’s innate tendency to form meaningful relationships.  Her focus is two-fold:

Part One lays a foundation of being.  Only one who authentically follows Jesus Christ herself can lead others into a closer following.  Dana lays this groundwork upon four realities of the Christian life:

  • We are forgiven – and we are “spiritually destitute” apart from God.
  • We are safe – God is trustworthy.
  • We have access – Cultivating intimacy with Christ is imperative.
  • We are becoming – God has begun a work which He intends to complete.

Readers are invited to Go Deeper by wrestling with these concepts as they occur in Scripture through a series of well-framed and insightful study questions.

Part Two addresses the why and the how of making disciples for Jesus Christ, and Dana assumes nothing.  With helpful detail, she examines the process of curating a life-giving atmosphere that includes the security of confidentiality, that fosters relationship, that affirms the value of individuals,  and that provides structure for communicating Biblical truth with intentionality.

A discipling relationship will include the tough love of exhortation combined with unconditional acceptance; therefore, it is imperative that care be given to the question of whom to disciple.  Compatibility as well as eligibility are both concerns — not everyone is at a place in life where she is ready for a one-on-one discipling relationship.  Look for a heart for God, faithfulness, and teachability.

The focus of the process is growth through deep interaction around the Word of God.  The first four chapters of Dana’s book are a great option for foundational content and could be covered in four to eight weeks.  Other alternatives are the Gospel of John or Paul’s epistles to the Philippians or Colossians.

The work that Dana describes is deeply spiritual, and her standards are high.  Even so, she communicates realism, urging simplicity and reminding her readers that there are practical details that will facilitate a smooth beginning.  For instance, expectations on both sides should be voiced and scheduling details ironed out; however, even after laying this foundation, there still may be discipling relationships that simply will not work out.

Having read the book and received its encouragement, my response is:  I can do this!  Dana’s gentle teaching at the outset, alongside her wisdom-and-experience-based guidelines make The Gentle Art of Discipling Women a valuable primer for the woman who is ready to take the challenge and trust for grace to enter into joyful obedience to Christ’s command:  “Go and make disciples!”


This book was provided by NavPress, published in alliance with Tyndale House Publishing,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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39 thoughts on “The Gentle Art of Discipling Women”

  1. WOW MICHELLE, THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT BOOK! I just started a mentoring program at church and am knee deep in the midst of writing curriculum for it. I will definitely add it to my list of must reads!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks very useful for mentoring just as Jann said.
    How are you Michele? Being a while now…was excited seeing your comment on the blog now. Thank you for your kindness towards me. I am deeply grateful for our friendship.
    Many blessings to you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s pretty common, actually, which is why it’s so helpful to have a common purpose — nurturing our relationship with Christ. I’m such an introvert and awkward conversationalist (with males and females) that having an agenda to follow takes some of the pressure off. 🙂


  3. “Having read the book and received its encouragement, my response is: I can do this!” That’s the sign of a great book, Michele. As a woman in my 50’s myself, I agree that we need to be relating to women of ALL ages, not just our own. I’m finding it easier as I get older, whereas I would have been more intimidated when I was younger too. Thanks for your encouragement here to keep trying!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele, first off, you were never blah. You had only failed to see the beauty God placed in you, my beautiful friend. : ) Now, that that’s settled … what a great read. I love the foundation and looking for and making our own selves teachable is so important. Thank you, friend, for sharing. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “The tough love of exhortation combined with unconditional acceptance” – that is the most beautiful form of hospitality – isn’t it? A true mentor changes anothers life through love, not beating up with judgement! I love the gentle, unconditional love of your post. I’d like to be in your class!


    1. I’d love to have you in my class! Thanks for reading, and yes — we have to trust for courage and enough love to really address the issues that need work in a believer’s life, while at the same time addressing them with love. We certainly need God’s help in this business of relationships.


  6. Thank you for introducing this book. It is an important topic. The mentor/discipleship friend I had last year helped my walk with Christ over and over, but she moved. I know the importance of finding other women who can disciple and encourage me–and who are at the same time encouraged by me–an vital part of life here on earth.


  7. Michelle, I was drawn to your post by the book title. Thank you for highlighting it! Women’s ministry really is a combination of loving exhortation and unconditional love. What a balance we could all use. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michele, first of all, I resonated with how you opened this post. When I was younger, I was too intimidated by my peers who seemed to have it all together or/and had what I wanted. As I’ve aged and grown more comfortable with who God intended me to be, it’s easier to talk with women of different ages and in different stages in life.
    That said, this book sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for laying out what the book covers. It sounds like it’s a helpful read on many levels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, my thinking was always, “I have nothing to offer these people.” Now, of course, I know that’s true, but I also know that God has PLENTY to offer them through me, so I am more comfortable with the risk. Thanks for sharing your story.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Discipling women is one of my ministries overseas. And yes, I can so relate. As you get older, you’re not so intimidated, not so scared to reach out. More free to be yourself and hope you will bless others with friendship encouragement, and sometimes, counsel! How wonderful to know about this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. michele, this sounds like a great book. i’m with you. in my younger years, i was much more insecure. being one of the unpopular kids in school, or at least certainly not one of the popular ones, i didn’t have much confidence.

    with time, growth in grace and truth, seeing what happened to women who weren’t mentored…i gained courage to step out and be willing to be a fool. raising children helped as well. the concept of spiritual mothering was introduced to me. it’s individual. there isn’t just one way of doing it. we come into a person’s life at one time in their life and their need then may be different than at another time. yes, they need to learn to read and study GOD’s word and put it into practice…and pray. they also need a friend. they need to know how to do relationships with other women…and how to love their husband if they have one! that touches on just a few things.

    i love the title of the book…the GENTLE art of discipling women. we don’t just plow over a woman and her uniqueness. we celebrate it and help her use it for Christ and His Kingdom. great post:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Martha, your comment is a gift. Thank you for coming alongside me and sharing your story. I need to gain courage as you have and to find space in my life for younger women. Thanks for your encouragement.


  11. Love this! Thanks for the review of the book. In college I had a woman invest a lot of her life into me, and I’ve been trying to do that with others since then. So thankful for women like you who reach out and make time and space in your life for us younger ones! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, this sounds like a really great book! I hope to be involved in Women’s ministries in the future, and I am currently in the process of starting a Bible Study for the teen girls at my church. This was a helpful article, thank you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Michele, this sounds like an amazing book! We live in an area where church is church on Sunday mornings only and everything else comes first the rest of the time. This is extremely hard for me since I was raised in church and we attended any time the doors were opened. For the past year, I’ve been praying about possibly starting a ladies Bible study in my home. I kinda feel like the Lord allowed you to review this book for me and I thank you! Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My pastor, (stepson) and I just talked about this topic today. Disciplining can also be a one-on-one process. He thinking about starting a disciple program where he assigns a new believer to a seasoned believer in church. I am embarking on a relationship now with a young woman who was just saved Wednesday night. I think this book is one I should definitely read. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays.


  15. I’ve noticed that about age seeming to level the playing field relationally too. Loved reading your thoughts on this book! I’m so glad you shared this at Booknificent Thursday on this week!


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