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Often we think discipleship is just happening in the church.  But is it?  Here's a short discussion guide you could use in your church or classis.

This past week I attended our Classis meetings as well as a course on Thessalonians through the Center for Excellence in Preaching -- hence, I did not get a blog together.  I always appreciate the opportunity to just hang out with my peers, talk a little shop, learn, study and pray  together.  And our Rocky Mountain Classis is a wonderful classis -- we just enjoy being together and supporting one another in ministry.


Mike Johnson of Ascending Leaders is part of our classis and we spent significant time discussing the great need for churches  to have a plan for discipling members toward a deeper active and committed relationship with Jesus Christ. With Mike's presence in our neck of the woods we are fortunate to be reminded frequently of the need to build disciples.  But that doesn't mean it's happening.


As part of our agenda I was asked to lead some discussion over our final lunch time meal regarding what churches are doing to build disciples.  Of course I was also curious as to what part small groups play in the whole scenario.  Through some mediocre response from the round-table discussions we decided that this needs to have a dedicated evening on a future agenda of Classis.  I don't encourage a round-table discussion when the agenda is finished and people are eating their lunch before they head home -- understand that our classis spans three states so there are long drives to make and flights to catch. Needless to say, we received enough response to warrant a future intense discussion when people aren't rushing to go home. 


Here are the questions raised at our meeting.  I'd love to hear your response to the validity of the questions and perhaps any questions you think would be valuable to add.


  1. What is a disciple?  What is a good definition of discipleship? (answers vary a lot here)
  2. Does your church have a plan for discipleship from cradle to grave?  If so, what is it?  If not, why not?
  3. How do small groups play a part in your church's discipleship ministry?
  4. What areas concerning discipleship would your appreciate resources for and discussion about either in classis, denominationally or via the CRC Network online?

I believe that answering these questions also bridges into identifying and training leaders which is another important discussion to be had.


'til next time



A couple years ago I heard Greg Hawkins of Reveal fame when in my home city with "Reveal on the Road" reflect on his pre-reveal days as one of the designers of Willow Creeks whole move to be a church of small groups through a meta-church structure. In the 90s when Willow was knee deep in this model, I went to a small groups workshop  at Willow in which they described and taught their small groups method. They talked of being a church OF small groups, rather than a church WITH small groups.

Back to Greg in Houston a couple years ago. He made mention that small groups are important, but stated that at Willow they had expected small groups to carry more weight than they could possibly handle. If you are familiar with that approach to small groups you will remember that small groups were supposed to provide affinity, spiritual care, discipleship and service all within one group. A nice clean theory, but as Greg said, too much to expect of small groups. In my own church plant, as we tried to implement the model it seemed to continually fall down at the place where one or another person in our church structure was weak as a disciple.

It seems to me that back then we saw small groups as an end, because we assumed that with many in small groups and the right meta-model all that stuff would happen well, efficiently and effectively. But it may be much better to see small groups as a means/a method/an approach that can possibly do discipleship quite well. I wonder if in the end discipleship is not a better goal and we ask ourselves questions like what is best building disciples?  Small groups? something else?

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