Dear fellow disciple-maker,
What is the value of small groups to future generations?
George Whitefield and John Wesley were both Renowned English Anglican religious leaders in the 1700's and founders of Methodism. History records that Whitefield had a much larger number of responses to his preaching than John Wesley. But soon after both men were dead, it was clear that Wesley's work would impact future generations far more than Whitefield's.
The reason? Wesley made smaller Christian groups for his followers a priority and Whitefield did not. The lesson is clear: Large group preaching must be reinforced by a smaller and deeper community devoted to personal development and accountability.
What was Jesus' secret to making His smaller group work? Jesus trained people to become what he was – a maker of disciple-makers. As a small group leader, your role is to make disciple-makers. You are a spiritual trainer and mentor. This is the mental picture of yourself that Jesus wants you to have.
Typically, a leader assumes that his role is to host meetings, prepare lessons, and teach the Bible. Spiritual mentors do more than keep schedules and maintain structure. They share life. Jesus called his disciples to be with Him (Mark 3:14). A spiritual trainer says, "For the next year, let’s open up to God and do life together. I'll share what I know about following Jesus, and very soon you'll be doing the same thing with someone else."
Jesus modeled a simple and reproducible pattern for making disciple-makers. In their book Essential Church, Thom and Sam Rainer note that churches tend to offer members a series of good but seemingly unconnected programs and activities. There seems to be no clear path for someone to grow as a disciple. The strategy Jesus used integrated four components: simplify, deepen, expect and multiply.
A small group is a simple structure. Jesus created this environment that gave his disciples a natural sense of belonging, care and accountability.
The focus of Christ's teaching was to love God and love others. Jesus called his disciples to alter their priorities and do life together – with him. He spent time with them in a variety of life settings and showed them how to put his teachings into practice.
Jesus gave his followers commands to obey, not just facts to know. Those who followed him were expected to obey his teachings and go where he sent them. This required them to put God's kingdom first.
God's kingdom grows through relationships that are devoted to multiplying. When Jesus gave his great commission he was in effect saying, I've trained you, now you go do the same thing. To Jesus, success is succession. Following Jesus' pattern will help you shift the focus of your group from fellowship to discipleship. This is the secret to making small groups work.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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