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When making disciples in a church context, it’s important to use the right tool for the job. At our church we’re focusing on two specific tools: triads and huddles. The biggest difference between these tools lies in what they produce.

  • Triads are composed of 2-4 people who meet weekly for accountability and encouragement. Participants all read the same Scripture each week, usually 15-25 chapters. Some triads have a set of accountability questions that they ask each other every week. Triads produce people who are intentionally following Jesus and growing in holiness, discipline, and witness. Neil Cole popularized these groups as "Life Transformation Groups". You can read more about them in his book Ordinary Heroes.
  • Huddles are a construct of a group called 3D Movements led by Mike Breen. While huddles seek to accomplish much of what is done in a triad, they are also designed to produce leaders. They disciple people in ways that are transferable and equip them to disciple others. Huddles consist of 5-10 people and are led by a trained leader/discipler. They use a series of content tools to help people develop missional and leadership rhythms in their lives that can be passed on to other leaders. A huddle is not just for the transfer of information. It is a leader who is intentionally investing in a group of people and giving them access to his or her life.

So which tool should you use? If a person wants to simply grow in a relationship with Jesus, a triad is a great way to do that. It takes commitment and faithfulness. But I have yet to see someone commit to a triad and fail to make great spiritual progress. If you have identified some people who have leadership gifts, a huddle might make more sense. 

What other tools have you used to grow disciples in your church? 


Thank you Nathan for your concise summary. It is my experience that triads & quads and I expect focused huddles of 5-7 as well, are very helpful to move the many folk who are stuck at the good friends with Jesus stage of spiritual growth to the close friends of Jesus stage--moving the gospel more deeply to the heart, as well as the head.  Is that yours as well?

Absolutely, Michael.  It seems like adding intentionality and small community to the spiritual journey accelerates it.  Of course, it's not the formula that makes it happen.  But it seems like God has created us in such a way that these things create opening in our lives for the Spirit to work powerfully.

What I like most about this is that one doesn't have to be spiritually gifted to grow.  A person just needs to be committed and have a few committed friends alongside him or her.  I think about the first Beatitude - the kingdom is available to even the poor in spirit.  No spiritual pedigree required.  Good news indeed!

I suspect that these methods would help strengthen a person's commitment to other religions or philosophies if the content was altered accordingly. If that is the case then it might not be the Holy Spirit at work here, but rather psychology. Doesn't it concern you that you might be employing psychological manipulation under a deceptive cover of spiritual rhetoric, and wouldn't that be unethical?

Charles, I suppose this charge could be levied against anything we do in the church - sermons, sacraments, other spiritual disciplines.  Without biblical content and the Holy Spirit, all forms or methods (including huddles and triads) will only strengthen a person's commitment to a religion or philosophy.  The goal of huddles and triads is to strengthen one's commitment to Jesus through Scripture and mutual support and accountability, not to a system or philosophy.  I fail to see how pointing willing participants toward Jesus could be considered manipulative or unethical.

What alternatives would you suggest?

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