The Five Words That Are Derailing Small Group Disciple Making


There are five words that keep many group ministries from making mature disciples. Let me explain.

Over the course of a year, I connect with hundreds of group pastors, education ministers, and senior pastors. They’re seeking direction concerning their groups ministry. The starting point of our conversation is my asking this question, “If you could hone it down to one thing, just one goal, that you want your groups ministry to accomplish, what would that be?”. In almost every instance the answer is the same, “We want to make disciples that make disciples.”

And thus begins our often befuddling conversation.

You see, there are some unarguable expectations of a person that will grow to meaningful levels of spiritual maturity. Research, as well as biblical understandings, tells us that the following practices are necessary if someone is going to grow spiritually.

Bible engagement

Obeying God and denying self

Serving God and others

Sharing Christ

Exercising faith

Seeking God

Building relationships


(from the book, Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation)

If you’ll glance through that list again you’ll find that there are a few of these that, when a group is asked to consider doing them, the leader gets an overwhelming, “Not on your life!”. Well, in so many words. Phrases like, “I don’t have time for homework.”, “The bible is too confusing for me to understand so I just don’t spend anytime reading it.” “I just don’t know enough bible to witness to somebody.”, “My kids have a lot of ballgames so I won’t have time to be involved in these missional activities you’re asking us to do.”, “I could lose the respect of the people I work with, even lose my job, if I even bowed my head to pray at lunch.”

Because of these kinds of statements, excuses from the lips of group members, when I’m discussing the requirements of biblical obedience necessary for spiritual growth (Matthew 28:20) with church leaders, the pastors I’m consulting often state five words that derail spiritual growth through their group ministry forever, “My people won’t do that.” What’s the groups point person really saying?… “I’ll never ask that of the people in my groups.” And thus ends the possibility of ever leading a group ministry that makes disciples that makes disciples.

More to come tomorrow!




  1. Any response that starts with the word “I” is self centered at the root. Perhaps we could just make it a ground rule to start each response with “God” #justsayin #andprayin

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