More on Principle-Based Small Groups
March 13, 2012
Updated April 26, 2018
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My apologies for not getting anything up here for a few weeks, but some priorities have beckoned me elsewhere.
I finished my last article on PB small groups with the question, "how are these groups making disciples?" Perhaps I should have asked, "how do PB groups fit into your church's disciple-making plan?" I ask this question often when I talk with pastors and church leaders because it's essential to the ministry and mission of the church. But here's the rub, "What is your church's understanding or interpretation or definition of discipleship and disciple-making?"
Some church's don't have one. Let me rephrase that. Most churches I speak with about small groups neither have a plan nor a clarified definition for the whole congregation regarding discipleship and disciple-making. But that aside, perhaps PB small groups do play a role in your church.
I have come to understand disciple-making in a more broader sense these days. Discipleship begins already before conversion eventually culminating with disciples making disciples who imitate and look like their Savior. But discipleship is happening all through the process of sanctification and of course we never fully arrive until Jesus returns.
But now having said that, realize that if you're going to include PB as part of your disciple-making ministry, you will need to spend more time on a plan to initiate intentionality on moving people forward in their spiritual growth. People's natural tendency will be to stay comfortable and not become disciples or at least as Jesus intended them to.
My suggestion is to include a plan shared with the congregation that lays out a clearly defined plan of disciple-making including not only entry-level small groups and Bible studies, but specifically focused discipling groups like Ascending Leaders' triad groups which have the intention of one-on-one intensive discipleship.
One thing you may find difficult in leading this PB system is that the leaders of these small groups need also to be on the discipleship journey. Is the leader of your Scrapbooking small group growing as a disciple somewhere else in the PB system? Ah, there's the crux, that means your leaders — unless they're leading something like an intensive triad discipleship group — may also need to be in another small group for their own spiritual development beyond the entry-level group they're leading. Who has time to do both? Remember we all have to be moving forward in our spiritual formation. So you can see where the system can lend itself to stacking if you're committed to making disciples. Many if not most will not be on board with that. Life is just too busy it seems.
My opinion for what it's worth is that any system of ministry is a guideline really (I just heard Pirates of the Caribbean in the background). You need to maneuver and shape it to fit what is most important, your disciple-making vision and plan.
Are you using the PB small group system. Tell us how it's working for you or what you've done to add it to your disciple-making ministry.
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