A two-week road trip through northern Australia and a stop-over at the South Queensland Conference camp-meeting has seen Dr Peter Roennfeldt launch a new book about simple disciple-making. If You Can Eat . . . You Can Make Disciples was launched on September 24 with a prayer of dedication led by South Queensland conference president Pastor Brett Townend.
“I wanted to outline Jesus’ method in a simple, direct and accessible book that could be read in one sitting,” Dr Roennfeldt explained. The new book is based on Jesus’ instructions to His first disciples in Luke 10:1–24. “If You Can Eat is practical—it demystifies witness and evangelism, demonstrates disciple-making is not to be done by proxy or by professional evangelists alone, shows that all believers can share their faith without fear, and illustrates that Jesus’ method definitely works in our contexts.”
In the two weeks leading up to the “official” book launch, Dr Roennfeldt shared more than 400 copies of If You Can Eat in churches on the Queensland coast between Mackay and Cairns, then in Mt Isa and the three regional towns of the Northern Territory, before finishing the journey in Darwin, travelling with Northern Australian Conference president Pastor Darren Slade.
“The response was extremely positive and we had the opportunity to spend time with almost 600 members right across the conference,” said Dr Roennfeldt. “And so many of the people wanted to get the book and explore these concepts further. I was encouraged and inspired by the enthusiasm for it.”
If You Can Eat has also been translated and published almost simultaneously in Dutch, and will be launched at a conference for ministry leaders and church planters of the Adventist Church in the Netherlands in October.
Dr Roennfeldt urged that sharing our faith is an essential component of our own discipleship. “Making other disciples strengthens and sharpens our experience with God—and keeps our focus on the centrality of the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection,” he said. “There is nothing like sharing this good news and seeing a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague accept Jesus as their Saviour to revitalise our own faith.”
If You Can Eat was inspired by his interactions with his multicultural and multi-faith neighbours in western Melbourne, which he describes in the opening of the book. He urges that this is an opportunity for genuine listening to the stories of others, then sharing some of our own story and faith, in the context of “eating their food” as Jesus instructed.
“We have the example of Jesus, who related to people of diverse backgrounds and faiths in ways that were respectful, generous, open, kind, engaged and engaging,” Dr Roennfeldt reflected. “We do not need to deny His message and mission to engage with our multi-faith and no-faith friends. At times, we will need to apologise for the aggression, colonialism and trauma caused at times by churches and Christianity, but we do not need to apologise for Jesus.”
Dr Roennfeldt’s new book comes toward the end of another year of discipleship training that he has led in many locations around the South Pacific, and in places in west Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
“The privilege of disciple-making is for all believers,” urged Dr Roennfeldt. “Leaders and pastors—including those retired like myself—cannot admonish others to do it if we are not personally involved. If You Can Eat highlights simple, easily reproducible models that anyone can do—and, of course, Jesus’ method is the most effective.”
If You Can Eat . . . You Can Make Disciples—along with Following Jesus and Following the Spirit—is available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand.