What is a discipleship group?
Discipleship groups of three to four men or women meet regularly to share the “fine china” of their lives. With a strong commitment to confidentiality, trust and safety are built over time as the members grow in friendship and discipleship. A discipleship group is ideally formed from within a community group and—in concert with family meals and missional gatherings—serves as one of the three rhythms of a healthy community group. Community that doesn’t draw us deeper into discipleship over time becomes just another way to hide in plain sight.
How to start a discipleship group
- Read the online guide, and then select facilitators and form groups. Community group leaders should first form discipleship groups of three to four men or women from within each community group, using this guide that explains how to select facilitators for each discipleship group, and then how to launch and structure the groups. Community group leaders should lean on their hub leaders and community director as needed after having read through the guide.
- Complete the audio training on how to facilitate a gospel-centered discipleship group. Before you gather for the first time, all community group leaders and discipleship group facilitators should listen to this training on Frontline's discipleship groups, and read over the accompanying Discipleship Group Rhythm Sheet.
- Assign some additional homework to all participants. Before gathering for the first time, everyone who will participate in each discipleship group should set aside time to thoughtfully listen to this second audio teaching on the do's and don'ts of discipleship groups, entitled "When in doubt, aim for the heart." When you gather for the first time, discuss how you were each personally instructed or corrected by the content of that teaching. (You can follow along with the notes as well.) This teaching is designed to help us all avoid common pitfalls in interpersonal helping relationships, as well as help us be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be impatient with others (James 1:21).
- When you meet, refer to the rhythm sheet and use the bookmark as a guide. The Discipleship Group Rhythm Sheet has five sections. First, in a couple paragraphs, it discusses the difference between a religious, irreligious, and gospel-centered discipleship group. Then, the next four sections, in a couple paragraphs each, cover the four movements of every discipleship group gathering: Scripture, Sharing, Spread of the Gospel, and Spirit-Filled Prayer. You should have started your first group gathering discussing the teaching on the do's and don'ts of discipleship groups, remember? But here's an easy way to kick off your next five group gatherings after that. Take the first fifteen minutes to read one of those five brief sections of the rhythm sheet out loud together, and briefly discuss what you've read in light of everyone's personal history and experience.
(If you'd like, you can also print out copies of the Discipleship Group Rhythm Sheet, and cut out the bookmark contained within the rhythm sheet to keep it in your Bible for reference. Alternately, as a reference, during discipleship group gatherings, you can use your mobile device to simply scroll through the content of the rhythm sheet as it is reproduced below.)
Download the Discipleship Group Rhythm Sheet and bookmark here.