Simple Discipleship in groups
In my last post, I started the discussion on discipleship looking ever-so-lightly at one-on-one discipleship. I truly believe that the BEST way to disciple others is on a one-on-one, or one-on-two (or three) basis. In fact, I have now decided that this will be a three-part post. In this section, I will examine the small & large group settings, and in the next post, I will be a little more practical in the one-on-one (or two or three) setting.
Small Group Discipleship
I believe the small group setting is crucial for developing disciples of Jesus. In these small groups, you not only study God’s Word, pray, and discuss practical application of what you are studying, but you DO LIFE together. The small group setting is perfect for social events, like dinners out, trips to the park with the whole family of each group member, etc.
The small group setting is crucial for developing disciples of Jesus.
Doing life together with your small group crew allows you to put into practice what you are learning from God’s Word. It allows you to put feet on your prayers. It is where the rubber meets the road. I would go so far as to say that if you are not actively participating in a small group, you are not truly growing as a disciple of Jesus.
Small groups are much more than a mere Bible Study. Without the practical application component, such groups are a waste of time. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 8:1, We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Humans were created by God to be in community.
Humans were created by God to be in community. To encourage each other and build each other up (He. 10:25), to spur one another on to good works (He. 10:24), and to sharpen one another along the way (Pr. 27:17). A small group that actively serves others in the Name of Jesus is the BEST way to help disciples mature in their walk with Christ.
Whether your group meets weekly or at some other regular interval for study, the group NEEDS to meet regularly for service. It is what we do, because of who we are and because of Whose we are.
Large Group Discipleship
This is trickier, but certainly gathering together on the Lord’s Day enhances discipleship. It reminds us that we are not alone or just part of a small group of people who are following Jesus. It is good to be part of something larger than ourselves, and the Sunday morning gathering is a reminder of that fact. Solid biblical teaching with practical application steps clearly defined, and an encouragement to love God, love people, and serve others provides that “spiritual booster shot” we all need to get the week off on the right foot.
Admittedly, the large group setting is not going to be as deep in the discipleship process as the small group or one-on-one setting. Remember, Jesus used all three discipleship settings in His earthly ministry: He often taught large crowds, encouraging them to follow Him. He had 12 close followers with whom He went deeper in His teaching and His application. He had three (Peter, James, and John) who were His “inner circle” even among the Apostles. Let us not forget that John refers to himself as the “Apostle whom Jesus loved,” so obviously John felt a special one-on-one connection with Jesus.
Jesus used all three discipleship settings in His earthly ministry
Yes, all three types of discipleship methods are important. While the church in America has done a decent job in the large group setting, we have not done as well in the small group setting, and I believe we are sorely lacking in the one-on-one setting. Thus, in my next post, I will give some practical tips on one-on-one discipling.