Four Leading Indicators of Small Group Ministries that Make Disciples

In the world of economics, leading indicators are “indicators that usually change before the economy as a whole changes.  They are therefore useful as short-term predictors of the economy.”  Stock market returns, building permits, and average weekly jobless claims are all leading indicators.

Think there might be a set of leading indicators that are short-term predictors of your small group ministry’s ability to make disciples?  Take a look at this Dallas Willard definition of a disciple:

“A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do. A disciple is not a person who has things under control, or knows a lot of things. Disciples simply are people who are constantly revising their affairs to carry through on their decision to follow Jesus.” Rethinking Evangelism

Here are what I think are four leading indicators of small group ministries that make disciples:

  • Following Jesus is recognized as the most important thing in life.  Modeled by pastors, coaches and leaders…nothing else is even close.  How often do other things take precedence?
  • Learning how to do what Jesus said to do is always the emphasis.  Note: how, not what, is the point.  How often does your ministry emphasize what, not how?
  • Discipleship is never described as a class to be attended or a course to be completed.  Do you offer classes or courses that emphasize completion or arrival?
  • Disciples are always characterized as pressing on and straining toward.  Do pastors and leaders acknowledge that they are works in process?

See these leading indicators in your small group ministry?  Or are you seeing something less significant?

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

  • Glen

    Really helpful comments (as usual), Mark.
    One thing that piqued my interest was the lifelong learners stance that you cover in point 3. I readily agree with you, but also wonder if giving people a feeling of completing “something” can help with “celebrating the middle” to help keep people motivated, rather than just claps on the back at the end of a project etc?

  • markchowell

    Thanks for jumping in here, Glen! I’m with you. When the right things are celebrated, a growing understanding develops in the culture that affirms steps in the direction of the preferred future. In the same way that we celebrate baptism as an important step in the lifelong journey of a disciple, there could be other steps affirmed along the way. Good point.

  • http://www.SmallGroupChurches.com/ Andrew Mason

    “Discipleship is never described as a class to be attended or a course to be completed.” Very profound Mark! In a recent workshop with Pastors I was encouraging them to participate in their small group ministry. I told them that small groups were not like a new believers class or membership class. There is no completion of the discipleship process. Thanks for the great article!

  • markchowell

    Good word, Andrew! Thanks for jumping in here. And thanks for the affirmation!

    mark