If you asked ten churches how they do discipleship groups, you would get ten different answers. Everyone does it differently. Some emphasize theology while others emphasize spiritual disciplines. Some churches include heavy homework (reading, memorizing, etc.) and others are more relaxed.
We have learned a lot from the Replicate Ministries model of Discipleship Groups (D-Groups). These are gender-specific, closed groups of 3-5 people that meet for 12-18 months for a season of accelerated spiritual transformation. Below is a picture that our Next Steps Team developed that explains how this group works.
What Do We Do?
“…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8
As Timothy instructs in the verse above, our D-groups commit to train in godliness. Each member commits to weekly doing the five grace-filled disciplines: Accountability, Bible Reading, HEAR Journals, Prayer, and Scripture Memory. These disciplines and our effort are not what saves us nor transforms us, but it creates space for God to work in our lives.
Along with the individuals weekly committing to these disciplines in their personal life, they also commit to weekly involvement with a group of people. This weekly touchpoint is a non-negotiable. With that said, we know that physical attendance is not always possible and that’s why we emphasize weekly involvement. Whenever someone is unable to attend a meeting, they always send in a HEAR Journal and a prayer request to the group beforehand so they can stay in the loop! But this should be the exception, not the rule.
What Does God Do?
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
As we personally commit to the five grace-filled disciplines and commit to meeting with our group weekly, we create space that allows God’s Word to move in our life. As we read daily and we H.E.A.R. from him, we begin to be transformed. We start looking less like our old self and more like his son, Jesus Christ. We begin to reflect the MARCS below.
What Will Happen?
If the grace-filled disciplines are what we put IN to our lives, the MARCS of a disciple are what we hope to get OUT of it. These are five simple characteristics that we use to measure maturity.
- Missional: A disciple engages with those unengaged with the church
- Accountable: A disciple is open and transparent about how one is allowing the Gospel to impact their life.
- Reproducible: A disciple invests in other men or women who are faithful, available, and teachable.
- Communal: A disciple intentionally shares life with fellow believers
- Scriptural: A disciple experiences intimacy with Christ through regularly reading, meditating, and obeying God’s Word.
Want more information?
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!