There were several great comments on yesterday’s post about the 5 Things I Wish You Knew as You Build Your Small Group Ministry. All of the comments were focused on #5: “You must focus on making disciples as you connect connect unconnected people.”
Today I want to tease out a few things about a few things I know for sure about making disciples in groups. But first, take a moment to consider this statement:
One advantage of working on the same endeavor for many years is that you sometimes develop a well-reasoned understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Let me make two important notes about this statement. First, working on an endeavor is different than working in an endeavor. See also, Working On vs Working In…Your Ministry.
Second, I say “sometimes” because it is also true that there are people who work on the same endeavor for many years and never try anything new. They use the same approach again and again even though it doesn’t work. There are three reasons they don’t try a new approach:
- Some of them do the same thing again and again and never evaluate their results. Without evaluation they use the same program or strategy year after year and never even think about improving. See also, Four Questions that Evaluate Small Group Model Effectiveness.
- Some of them do the same thing again and again and expect different results. Albert Einstein would say that is the definition of insanity.
- Some of them do the same thing again and again, knowing it hasn’t worked before, but are unaware of any other way to do what needs to be done. See also, Innovation Step #1: Acknowledge What Isn’t Working and Innovation Step #2: Become a Student, Not a Critic.
8 things I know for sure about making disciples in groups:
- Your definition of a disciple is important. I like Dallas Willard’s definition of a mature disciple: “A mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do if Jesus were him.”
- “Come and see” precedes “come and die.” Jesus invited his disciples to come and see and then over an extended period of time (18 months?) He taught them how to “effortlessly do what He would do.” See also, Moving from “Come and See” to “Come and Die.”
- The disciple-making efforts of the New Testament happened in groups. The idea of one-to-one discipling method isn’t found in the practice of Jesus or Paul.
- Disciples are rarely made in rows. A class to attend or curriculum to complete misses the point. Disciples make disciples.
- There is more than one way to make disciples in groups. A number of strategies have been proposed and implemented over many years.
- There are no problem-free strategies for making disciples in groups. Every strategy comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders choose the set of problems they’d rather have.
- Your disciple-making strategy should be evaluated regularly. Forging ahead without evaluation is not wise. Continuing to do what has been determined to be ineffective will not hear “well done.”
- “Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first.” Therefore, making mature disciples in groups requires an intentional leadership development effort (i.e., what you do TO and FOR the leaders of your groups determines what may happen in the lives of the members of your groups).
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Penn State
- How to Make Disciples in Groups
- 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship
- Model What You Want to Happen at the Member-Level
- Defining a Disciple
- 6 Essential Questions about Making Disciples and Small Group Ministry