Currently, our team is in the middle of building a new resource called the Community Group Starter Kit. Over the next few weeks, I will share posts influenced by this kit, but intended not just for The Chapel, but for whomever is interested in learning more about Community Groups. The posts will go over the WHY, WHAT, HOW, WHEN, WHO, and WHERE of Community Groups. Today, we start with the WHY: Our Commission.
The Communal Commission
As a Westerner, one of the most common mistakes in interpreting the Bible is to read passages individualistically. This happens often with the Great Commission. We hear Jesus’ charge to make disciples of all nations and we feel the weight of that responsibility solely on our shoulders.
This is where a Southerner’s Bible translation would be helpful, because the Great Commission would be read like this…”Therefore, [y’all] go and make disciples of all nations…” When we consider that all the gospel-commission passages (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 1) were given to a group of people and when we look at 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4, we realize that the Great Commission is not given to an individual, but to a community. Michael Goohen says it well, “The Great Commission…is not a task given to isolated individuals, but an identity given to a community.”
We realize that the call to make disciples of all nations is something given to the church collectively and the only way that we will accomplish it is three-fold: by doing it together, by each person having a role, and by every person playing that role.
We understand the idea that a community influences an individual, because if we were to write down those that have impacted our life spiritually it would be a list of people, not just one person. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a church to raise a disciple.
What is Disciple Making?
Many people have lengthy discussion about the terms evangelism and discipleship and which is most important. The truth is that both of these are necessary. They are like two oars in a boat, if you emphasize one over the other, you will just go in circles. If all you do is evangelism, then you will make converts, not disciples. And if all you do is discipleship, then all you will do is mature preexisting disciples. On their own, each of these are incomplete. This is why we use the term disciple making.
Disciple Making is an umbrella term that includes both evangelism and discipleship. Though there are many definitions for evangelism and discipleship, our church aligns our definitions with our mission statement. Evangelism is sharing the Gospel with someone to help them meet Jesus personally through repentance and faith. Discipleship is intentionally investing in believers to know and follow Jesus. Therefore, disciple making combines these two terms and mirror’s our church’s mission statement: to help people meet (evangelism), know, and follow (discipleship) Jesus .
Communal Disciple Making
As our people lead Community Groups and D-Groups, we are living out the “communal commission.” We are providing a place where someone can meet, know, and follow Jesus! Below, you can see an illustration called the “Disciple Making Umbrella.”
My friends at Replicate Ministries introduced us to the initial concept. You will see how our mission statement and our Grouplife environments overlap.
The on-ramps focus solely on evangelism while our D-groups focus solely on discipleship. Our Community Groups are dynamic environments that straddle the line between the two concepts. These groups are unique in that it allows for non-believers, new believers, and mature believers to connect in one place. If our current trends continue, the home, not the church sanctuary will be the primary front door for seekers. This positions Community Groups to not just be a great place to disciple believers, but to reach the lost.