Over the last two years, our church has started doing Discipleship Groups (D-Groups). This is a gender specific, closed, group of 3-5 people who gather for a season of accelerated spiritual transformation (see a quick explanation here). Through my ten years of attending similar groups, this is by far the best model that I have ever been a part of. Below are six reasons why I love this model and how it has impacted my walk with Christ!
The Bible Is The Textbook
Over the last decade, I have had seasons of my life where I read a lot of books about the Bible, but didn’t read enough of the Bible. This is an easy habit for me to drift into if I am not careful. I can listen to sermons, read seminary books, and listen to church podcasts and before I know it, I have gone days without opening the Bible myself.
This is one reason that I have really appreciated this model. There is no extra curriculum. We are walking through the Bible together and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us through God’s Word. I have been so encouraged by how much God has taught me without any additional commentary. Whether it is from my personal time with him or hearing from fellow members about what they are learning, I walk away weekly with something to pray about and apply.
I have done accountability in gender-specific groups for over a decade, but never like this. In previous groups, someone would ask a member, “So, what’s going on in your life?” This open-ended question has endless possible answers. But through the years, one thing that was rarely emphasized enough was what I was learning through my time in the Word.
With this model, the HEAR Journal discussion is the start of your accountability time. The opening question is much more focused: “What is one HEAR Journal that stood our to you and why?” The question also makes you start at God’s Word, not your situation. I have been amazed at how much more productive the text-driven accountability is opposed to situation-driven accountability.
Church-wide & Family-wide Reading Plan
Another special thing about this D-Group model is that everyone is using the same Reading Plan. Even our kids have a simplified version of what we read each day. This alignment has had an unbelievable impact in our church and in our family.
Because we are reading the same thing, Sophie and I now have more conversations about the Bible than ever before and we are excited to bring Barrett into this one day and have him join the kids version of our reading plan. Also, with fellow church members, I have had similar conversations in copy rooms, offices, and in the parking lot. It is amazing how commonplace discussions about what God is teaching become when everyone is reading the same thing.
Just last week, I was talking about D-groups with a good friend and her words stood out to me: “For years, I have allowed other people to feed me God’s Word, but I had not fed myself. Now, I sit with the Bible and it’s just me and God. I am a student of the Savior.” She would go on to express that she had nerves about reading the Bible without any additional commentary, but she has learned more through HEAR Journals and discussion with her D-Group than she did through gifted pastors and theologians.
It is my prayer that this would be the experience for every person in our church. I love that this model gives you a simple framework (Highlight, Explain, Apply, Respond) that helps you learn how to read the Bible for yourself. What would it look like if every person in our congregation could open the Bible and immediately know how to interact with his Word. This model helps foster that!
Robby Gallaty often says, “The Gospel came to you as it was going to someone else.” I love this quote because it echoes the promise that God gave to Abraham that he was “blessed to be a blessing.” Whatever God is doing in our life, he is calling us to pass it on to others. Discipleship is no different.
In 2014, Kevin McKee asked me what got me up in the morning. After a couple days, I responded “Equipping disciples to make disciple-makers.” It has always been my passion to help people not just follow Jesus, but to help them lead others to follow Jesus. This model is by far the most effective model I have seen to do this. I have been so encouraged to watch people who were on the fringes of our church 18 months ago now leading a D-group.
Being a good ole boy from Mer Rouge, LA, I like things simple. That is probably why I have gravitated to this D-Group model. For the member to be involved, you commit to having a consistent quiet time and prioritizing a one-hour meeting a week. There is no thick book that you need to go through in addition to your quiet time. The curriculum is the Word of God and your prep time is your personal devotion.
It’s also simple for the leader. All you have to do is ask simple questions and make sure that your group gets through the 5 grace-filled disciplines (Bible Reading, Scripture Memory, HEAR Journals, Accountability, and Prayer) each week. This simplicity has undoubtably been a key reason why these groups have reproduced at a rapid pace. As my friend Gus Hernandez says, “Simplicity leads to reproducibility.”
Want More Information?
If you live in the Baton Rouge area and are interested in joining a D-Group, you can fill out this quick questionnaire!
Our team has also designed a D-Group Starter Kit. This is an interactive booklet used by groups for the first three meetings. It sets expectations and introduces each of the grace-filled disciplines. If you want more information on this D-Group model, this is a great resource. You will see an example meeting, an example HEAR Journal, and more.
Also, if you want to discuss this model further, drop me an email! I love talking with church staff and church members about starting this model!