5 Essential Ingredients of Groups that Make Disciples

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Yesterday I asked the question, "What have you designed your groups to make?" Answering my own question, I said, “Our small groups are designed to make followers of Jesus.” And I must admit that my answer begs the question, "What kind of group will make followers of Jesus or disciples?" See also, What Have You Designed Your Groups to Make?

What kind of group will make followers of Jesus or disciples?

We could also ask, "What would have to be true about a group for it to make disciples or followers of Jesus?"

Good questions...don't you think?

I'm sure there are more than these 5, but I don't believe you can actually make disciples or followers of Jesus without these. See what you think.

5 essential ingredients of groups that make disciples:

1. The presence of a person who can say, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)."

How far ahead must they be? A step or two. Note: This person (or these people) may not need to be the leader of the group. See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader and Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.

2. A curriculum focused on learning to be like Jesus.

The end in mind is being like Jesus, not knowing about Jesus. Note: This probably means that someone more knowledgeable has laid out a pathway designed to help groups wisely choose what to study. See also, Small Group Ministry Myth #3: Leaders and Members Know Best What to Study.

3. An unforced and unassuming intentionality pervades every gathering.

Groups that make authentic followers seem to operate independently of agenda. Talking about scripture is a naturally occurring element, but so is every other aspect of life. When appearance trumps authenticity the group produces Pharisaism.

4. An "in but not of" culture makes inclusion natural and unforced.

Any hint of exclusivity or artificiality negates the work being done.  Learning to be like Jesus is a practical impossibility in isolation.  See also, An "In" but Not "Of" M.O.

5. An "others first attitude" deeply saturates every aspect of the group.

Becoming like Jesus by definition assumes setting aside more and more of your own personal interests. See also, A Willingness to Set Aside Your Own Interests.

Need help?

Making More and Better Disciples in Groups is a four session mini-course designed to help you learn to (a) make it easy for unconnected people to get connected and (b) nearly automatic that they enter an environment designed for life-change that produces more and better disciples. Find out more about it right here.


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  1. Joe Klassen on August 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Mark can you unwrap #4 a bit more? I just want to understand a bit more where you are going with the exclusivity idea before I respond. Thanks man.

  2. markchowell on August 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Hi Joe…the key for me is that all 5 really describe a normal group. Not one that includes only the special forces and not one that excludes even the newest and not yet fully devoted. Too many strategies that claim to be about making disciples actually provide separation from the culture that desperately needs to walk alongside followers.

    Make sense?