As your small group journeys on the road of disciple-making it will require a great level of intentionality. Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger say it best: “Believing in community and establishing transformational communities is not the same thing.” So what does an established transformational community look like? In our ministry context we have recognized four intentional rhythms outside the use of a specific curriculum that are game changers for spiritual growth and multiplication to occur.
In his classic book With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murray notes, “Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray.” Reflecting on Murray’s remarks Mike Breen asserts that Jesus’ disciples having done life with Him understood better than we do that prayer is what believers need most to be effective disciples of Christ. The bottom line is apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our reliance upon the Holy Spirit to move is necessary for fruitful disciple making so this is why prayer makes all the difference!
Therefore every group must find a prayer rhythm early on and stick to it. Strive to have your prayer time be meaningful by asking tough questions at the end of your prayer time such as: How can we be an answer to these prayer concerns here tonight? Pray relentlessly for specific people who do not know Jesus yet. Ask the Lord if your group could be used in some unique way to reach them.
2) Ask Great Questions
Great leaders don’t always have all the right answers, but they have the courage to ask great questions. Strive to ask questions that lead people to take the journey from information to imitation. If you were to survey the Gospels there are over 100+ questions that Jesus asks that lead people to examine their lives and have the courage to move forward. Questions such as: Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Why are you so afraid? Do you believe that I am able to do this?
So what questions will you ask to serve as a catalyst for spiritual transformation? John Wesley intentionally asked in his class meetings “How is it with your soul?” We ask our small groups to have reflection nights in their groups where the entire time is about two key questions. Adapted from Neil Cole’s Life Transformation Groups, our groups ask: What is God calling you to do? What are you going to do about it?
3) 3-1 Missional Covenant
Being on mission is a non-negotiable for spiritual growth and disciple making. Accountability is necessary, even in regards to our lives being on mission. When Jesus sends out the disciples in groups of two in Luke 10, I’m sure one of the reasons was Jesus knew we may be tempted to abandon the mission set before us if we were doing it alone.
Your small group should be a means God is using to spur you on to be on mission. For this to happen you are going to have to have a plan. We challenge our groups to sign a 3-1 covenant. Groups in “3-1” covenant follow a rhythm that says they will strategically study three weeks out of the month, and the other week they are out on mission together. Some groups will connect with a mission partner we endorse. Others groups are carefully listening in the everyday rhythms of life to the needs around them. When they hear about a service opportunity, they bring it before their group and many times their group proactively responds. We bless groups to be adventurous in their pursuit to try new things missionally because at the Orchard we live by a mantra that states: “To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” (Craig Groeschel)
As disciple makers we are all charged to teach others to obey everything that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19). This requires us to actually remember what Jesus taught us. So how do we best remember what we learn? According to the National Institute for Applied Behavioral Science in Arlington, VA people will remember…
90% when they teach someone else
75% when they practice what they learned
50% when engaged in a group discussion
10% when they’ve learned from reading
5% when they’ve learned from lecture
Are you ready to share the leadership responsibilities in your small group and in turn see group members remember and live out the material? If your answer is yes, it will require you to rotate the teaching load because people remember what they teach. When you allow others to teach, it only better equips them to teach and disciple others that God might call them to branch out to. Your small group is an amazing practice field for participants to take Jesus’ commissioning to teach seriously. Remember if your group members can not teach those in your group whom they are more comfortable with, they will more than likely never teach others who are disconnected from Jesus or a community of faith.