“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matt 28:19–20)
To become a Christian is to become a life-long learner and follower of Jesus Christ. The first disciples were a diverse group of ordinary people, who Jesus called to be His friends and follow after Him into a life of extraordinary purpose.
God has big plans for your small group, too. You’re not just friends who meet up – you’re disciples from all walks of life, who are gathering together with an extraordinary purpose: learning how to follow Jesus.
Consider the following four steps to ensuring mutual discipleship takes place in your small group.
“... I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt 4:19)
When Jesus called Peter, James and John away from their day job to learn from and follow Him, He gave them a clear outline of their collective mission: fishing for people.
I recently joined a group Bible study, whose initiator named it ‘Ahava’ – the Hebrew word for ‘love,’ from the root verb, ‘to give.’ Right away, we had a collective mission: to look for ways we could love God and others well as we studied together.
Group Guides: What do you consider the mission of your small group to be? How will meeting together help you reflect Jesus’ character and calling? Decide on a mission statement together, and ensure every subsequent gathering is centred around that goal.
“...we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thess 2:8)
Jesus walked with, wept with, listened to, taught and cared for His disciples. They learned from Him as they lived with Him, and they were transformed as they imitated Him. For us, Scripture is the primary means by which we encounter Jesus, the Living Word, in our lives. When you study the Bible together with other believers, you learn from, lean into and live with the Person of Jesus together.
Research shows that regular Bible engagement is transformational; those who ‘live in it’ at least four times a week are 30% less likely to be lonely, 230% more likely to disciple others, and 200% more likely to share their faith. It’s unsurprising, then, that getting into the Bible (and staying in it) can feel like a bit of a battle; the enemy of our souls wants to distract and divert us from becoming more like Jesus.
Group Guides: What will you do to point others to the Word? Regularly encourage everyone in your small group to share about how God’s truth is impacting their character and conduct at home, work, and church. You will watch one another become increasingly Christ-like as you see the Word breathe life into others’ everyday circumstances.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace...” (1 Peter 4:10)
Every disciple has spiritual gifts to use for the Lord. The first disciples were not only diverse in background and occupation, but in personality and purpose as well. Impetuous Peter served alongside zealous James and compassionate John within Jesus’ inner circle. The Lord knew that Peter would be the passionate church planter, James would be the first Christian martyr and John would provide pastoral encouragement for the church in his epistles.
Jesus plans the part each of us will play in His purposes perfectly. Successful small groups rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal and release the gifts of every person who attends. Since spiritual gifts are not given for our own benefit but to bless and build up others to the glory of God, they are most often discovered and developed in the flow of serving and caring for one another.
“...equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” (Eph 4:12)
As you study God’s Word together, God will not only use you to help others grow, He will use others to grow you! Apply the ‘one anothers’ of Scripture to everything you do; pray for one another (Eph 6:18); challenge one another (Col 3:16); encourage and build one another up (1 Thess 5:11); stir one another up, and spur one another on to become more like Jesus (Heb 10:24).
Group Guides: With equal measures of encouragement and accountability, move deliberately from an ‘I can do it, you can help’ mentality to a, ‘You can do it, how can I help?’ approach. You can do this as a group by:
… calling one another to mission.
… pointing one another to the Word’s transforming power.
… letting one anothers’ gifts enrich your group life.
… committing to helping each other grow in Christ.
Want to make your WordGo Gathering a great place for identifying and growing God-given abilities in each other? Or perhaps you’d love someone to come alongside and facilitate with you? In our final entry to this blog series, we’ll explore just one more strategy for developing and discipling one another. Join us!