Last week’s blog introduced the conversation. Growing a discipleship ministry is an ongoing process, much like growing a garden.
Good gardeners are aware that they need to cultivate particular practices in order to develop a healthy, vibrant garden. If they faithfully plant, water, fertilize, etc., they will yield a good crop.
Gardeners are also aware that many gardening variables are outside their control: weather, weeds, disease, pests, and bad seed or soil to name a few. Gardeners must be task-oriented, hands-on, and quick to adapt to changing, unpredictable environments. Gardening involves discernment, wisdom, and ultimately, humility.
Growing a Small Group Discipleship ministry requires the same level of commitment and skills as a garden. Creating an environment involves faithful outreach, dedicated relationship-building, and continuous discipleship training.
However, producing a vibrant small group is not contingent on our skills alone. Just as with gardening, small group growth involves elements outside our control. People are busy, have unique needs and not all small groups develop community. Small Group Discipleship leaders need to set a routine of a posture of prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. A posture of prayer is more than praying before and after our meetings. It is the realization that we cannot strategize our way to a healthy small group ministry.
Several years ago we encountered John. John was a non-believer who came to church for the first time through a phone invitation. He began attending our church regularly, reading his Bible, and connecting with the congregational community. We witnessed a real change of heart and direction. John became a disciple of Christ. We were overjoyed. We knew it was through God’s action and plan that John became a disciple, not our own. We had done the work of planting the seed and tending the soil, but we knew that God had done the real work of nurturing Jack’s heart.
Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Paul said: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” I Corinthians 3:6-7
Church based Small Group Discipleship ministries are led in a variety of ways. In some church pastors, councils or education committees take the lead. In others, the ministry might be led by a team or volunteers, part time staff, small group leaders or in some cases full time discipleship leaders. No matter the ministry structure at your church, ultimately God is the gardener who brings forth all fruit.
What are the ways that you can lead from a posture of prayer? What are you currently doing? What would you change?