The One Word That’s Jump Starting Disciple Making Through Groups

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If you read yesterday’s blog post you’re vividly aware that many groups point people find themselves in a quandary. They long to make mature disciples of those attending their groups but those who are in their groups are seemingly unwilling to do what’s necessary to grow spiritually.

Most discipleship gurus will agree that a growing disciple must, 1) read and/or study God’s Word daily, 2) memorize Scripture, 3) share the gospel with not-yet- followers-of-Christ verbally, and 4) spend time with God daily in prayer. These are just a few of the confirmed requirements of a growing disciple of Jesus Christ.

But, in many group ministries, the people who are in groups would mutiny and/or jump ship if these things were expected of them.

So, what’s a groups point person do? I think one word describes what a groups point person must do if they’re going to make disciples that make disciples through their groups ministry. What is that word? Lead! That’s right… Lead!

You see, leaders don’t ask, “Where are the followers I lead willing to go?”. At the point this occurs, the leader ceases to be the leader. At this point, the leader is being led by followers. The followers have determined the destination and are now escorting the leader to the location of their choosing.

Leaders ask, “Where am I taking the people I lead?”. A leader concludes what the destination is and then inspires followers to join them on the journey to that place. As the small groups point person, if you’ve determined that making mature disciples is the goal, you must doggedly and discreetly lead the people in your groups to that destination!

Before you throw your computer, iPad, or phone against the wall, I do realize that you are tasked to get high percentages of weekend worshipers into groups and that, if your expectations of group members are high, many people who need Christian community will never join a group. Let me make a suggestion to you. Start a two- track groups ministry. That’s right, start a two-track groups ministry.

Track one will be what you’re most likely doing at present… Groups of 12 or so adults meeting weekly for a small group gathering, meeting one another’s needs, having a Bible study and encouraging one another to apply the teaching to real life while being missional. By the way, some levels of spiritual growth do occur in these relationships.

Track two will be what you’re probably needing to start… Groups of 4 or so adults, one discipler with three disicplees, meeting weekly, and when necessary, between meetings, doing whatever it takes to grow spiritually. Prior to this group having its first gathering all of the people in this group have committed to learning the practices of and, to the best of their ability, living the expectations of a growing disciple.

So, my fellow groups pastor… Lead!

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3 comments

  1. Rick – I am looking into a disciple-making model as an element of small groups where there are 2-3 accounability partners spiritually growing together in the areas you describe, rather than a leader disciple mentoring others. It would be available but optional to group members. The partnerships could cross multiple small groups. What is your opinion on whether this is effective and whether it can be worked into the small group construct?

  2. Hi Roger. If I understand what you’re considering I believe it would be wise to keep this principle, in mind… “Every movement, no matter how large or small, needs a leader.” That is, one person that keeps everyone focused on the goals of the group and is given the authority to do that. Not only that, a group of people will automatically have a pecking order, this is group dynamics 101. Even if no one is assigned the role, someone will rise to the top. If no one is assigned the responsibility, the person who ends up in that place, may or may not be a disciple maker. If they aren’t, they may well lead the group down a path other than what you’d hoped for. Better to give one person the responsibility of leadership who you have equipped and empowered to do what you want to see done than to get a group together and hope for the best.

  3. Thanks Rick. I agree with what you describe regarding one of the members naturally becoming the lead, even if the title and role isn’t given. In my mind, the question is whether the leader is there for the same purpose as the others (partnership) or if his or her primary purpose is to disciple the others. The natural leader may be determined from having the appropriate spiritual gift of leadership, not necessarialy from being the most spiritually mature. This could be appropriate in a partnership, but it would not be in a discipler/student relationship. I was thinking along the lines of 2 or 3 supporting each other as Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 discusses. However, you have given me some great things to think about. The phrase “Hope is not a strategy” comes to mind. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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