“You Can’t Make Disciples in a Group,” He Said.

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“We all know that groups are about community,” he said.  “And everyone knows you can’t make disciples in a group.”

“Actually,” I said, “I don’t agree with that.  After all, Jesus made disciples in a group.  It was the practice of rabbis in his day.  You made disciples in a group.  They weren’t seated in rows, either.

“The disciples weren’t polished.  They were the B Team.  They were prideful in the company of a servant.  They were self-seeking while Jesus set his own interests aside.  They were prejudiced while Jesus loved the unlovable. They were unforgiving, as He forgave.  They were faithless while the most unbelievable things happened all around them.

But…they learned how to be like Jesus by being with Jesus.  It wasn’t about knowing certain things.  There were no manuals or fill-in-the-blank workbooks.  There were no essays or multiple choice exams.  It was about becoming.  It was only about becoming.  Becoming like Jesus.”

What do you think?  What would you have said?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Brian Phipps on September 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

    LOL! You must have caused a swarm yesterday. 🙂 I didn’t hear you say that you can’t make disciples in groups… I heard you say you can’t make them in large groups via information alone. I think group disciple-making is more powerful than one on one, because you have more than one person’s experiences and understanding to shape you if you are in a group. I would go so far to say that, apart from specific circumstances, that one on one mentoring is a poor stewardship of time both for the mentor and the mentee. Let’s see what storm that causes. 🙂

  2. markchowell on September 14, 2012 at 6:14 am

    You got it right, Brian! It was a lot of fun yesterday…and I totally agree with you that group discipleship leverages the experiences of everyone in the group. Love it!


  3. Rick Howerton on September 14, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I have been involved in these conversations myself, Mark. For some reason the one-on-one disciplemaking world has a bias when it comes to groups. I would agree that being in community isn’t enough to make a mature disciple, making a disciple demands intentionality beyond just being in relationship with other believers. But to say unequivocally that people can’t become mature disciples by being in a group of about twelve… well, I guess whoever said that to you has never been in a disciple-making small group.

  4. markchowell on September 14, 2012 at 6:38 am

    I’d say that not only has he not been in a disciple-making group, he’s less familiar with the gospels than he ought to be!


  5. Bill Gilfillan on September 14, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Dynamite good, Mark. It’s the life on life in the midst of serving, teaching, hanging out, that makes life-change. It’s becoming like our amazing Master. Thanks for all you do pal!

  6. Che Cowan on September 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Mark, I also think that community is an essential part of discipleship. Jesus used the disciples’ relational faux pas as discipleship lessons. There are some areas of spiritual growth that cannot happen outside of a group.

  7. markchowell on September 14, 2012 at 8:02 am

    That’s right, Bill! Life in the midst…I love it!


  8. markchowell on September 14, 2012 at 8:04 am

    So true, Che! “Some areas of spiritual growth that cannot happen outside of a group!”