Sunday, September 21, 2008

How do we build disciples? (Part 3)

This is the 3rd in a series of posts looking at the question 'How do we build disciples?'  In Parts 1 and 2 we looked at the pro's and con's of 1-on-1 and triad approaches to disciple making. Here we look at the use of small groups to build disciples.

Bill Donahue's Leading Life-Changing Small Groups is an excellent resource for leading small groups that make a difference. He states, "In the simplest form, a disciple is an apprentice to Jesus." Discipleship is about being like Jesus, doing what He would do if He were here. The book is definitely geared toward seeing change happen in the lives of small group members, not just transfer of knowledge or group hugs.

In a book by Campus Crusade, "Make Your Mark", Chapter 8 discusses a Biblical Pattern for Small Group Discipleship. It points out that small groups are not the only way to build disciples, but are a very good way used by Jesus. The goal is to see a developing group of Spirit-filled Christians who are obedient to God's word and are actively involved in helping to fulfill the Great Commission. How did Jesus turn a group of a dozen untrained men and disciple them to become disciples who took the good news throughout the world? "Make Your Mark" suggests...

1. He selected a few potentially responsible men (Mark 3:13,14)
2. He spent time with them (John 15:27).
3. He required commitment from His disciples (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:25-35).
4. He taught them in the context of real life experiences (Luke 5:17-26).
5. To fulfill His last command to reach the world we start with our own location and move out from there (Acts 1:8).
6. To practically help fulfill His last command of building multiplying disciples, we have the small group.

After laying out this plan the author does caution: "Please note that your total spiritual development does not take place in a Discipleship Group. In addition to the Discipleship Group, you need the influence of your personal study of the Word, earnest consistent prayer and the input and fellowship of your church in order to develop spiritually."

Here at Calvary, our vision path considers small groups to be a crucial part of our strategy for developing fully-devoted followers of Christ. We believe that life change happens as personal relationships are developed and people participate in a close knit group that is providing encouragement, discipleship, and accountability. Some key convictions for our small groups ministry:
  • Life-change happens best in small groups
  • Strong relationships are built when people “do life” together in a small group
  • People’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs are best met by those who know them and love them
  • Every group deserves a shepherd leader who loves them, and is equipped to help them grow
Are you seeing significant disciple making occur in your small group(s)?

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