There is much discussion about disciple-making and small groups. It seems to me that, for a period of time, the small group movement elevated community and diminished disciple-making. While the two go hand-in-hand, there are some elements of disciple-making that must be in play if we’re going to grow mature disciples who then make disciples. Use the list below to indicate whether or not your groups ministry has as its primary agenda focused on making disciples.
1. The goal of the group is to learn and obey God’s expectations (Matt. 28:20), not just to gather for meetings and be there for one another in difficult times.
2. Group members are aware of and encouraging one another to come out of their comfort zones when God’s expectations demand it.
3. The person leading the group has been trained in the disciple-making process and realizes their role is much more than just hosting meetings and fellowship experiences.
4. Group members are fully aware that the group leader is their personal disciple-maker and allow the group leader to encourage them and hold them accountable.
5. The person leading the group knows the stages of spiritual transformation, is aware of the level of spiritual maturity of each group member, and is moving each group member toward the next stage.
6. The person leading the group expects and holds group members accountable to read and study the Bible daily and spend time in prayer, as these two disciplines are the primary disciplines necessary for spiritual growth to occur.
7. The person leading the group takes very seriously modeling the lifestyle of Jesus for the growing disciples they lead.
Rick Howerton is the South Central Regional Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He has authored many small group studies, is a highly sought-after trainer and speaker, and is the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual as well as A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. He is also the co-author of Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making and Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. But Rick’s deepest passion and his goal in life is to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.”