Don't Just Make Friends, Make Disciples

It's More Than Community

Are your church's small groups beginning to look like every other social group? What would happen if they took on a whole new identity by returning to the biblical mandate of making disciples? Rick Howerton is a leading consultant in small group ministry and author of A Different Kind of Tribe, Destination Community, and Small Group Life Ministry Manual. Listen as he shares three necessities that make up a biblical and systematic approach to disciple-making. 

People often think that joining a small group or finding community is about making friends. We need to re-think our thoughts about small group involvement and consider it more as making disciples

What is helpful about connecting the community and friendship aspects of small groups with discipleship in your church? What is limiting?
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Colossians 1:28 (ESV)

28Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Rick references Colossians 1:28 as the goal for disciple-making in the church, which demands more than people simply get involved in a small group. Discipleship's goal is to present others as "mature in Christ." Rick then lays out three necessities that make up a systematic, biblical approach to discipleship. Discipleship is:
  1. Relational
  2. Generational
  3. A stage-by-stage process

Discipleship as relational means that people are journeying together toward maturity in Christ. Who are you journeying with in discipleship, and what have you experienced together?
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Discipleship as generational suggests that someone more spiritually mature than you are is modeling the Christian life for you. Who comes to your mind as a spiritual model, and what has he/she taught you?
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Who is someone you'd consider less spiritually mature than you are? In what ways are you encouraging him/her along?
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Discipleship as stage-by-stage process admits we're all in different places as we journey to be more like Christ. Rick identifies people who are spiritually dead, spiritual infants, spiritual young adults, and spiritual parents.  

Where do you find yourself on the journey? What is your current experience in that stage?
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Rick says discipleship is not just about people being in a group. It's also about being led by leaders who know how to guide people toward maturity as their hearts are transformed.  

Share a time you felt your heart being transformed by Christ. What are some ways you can guide people through similar moments of transformation?
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Friendship and community are great things—even necessities. But when we make our small groups only about making friends, we miss out. God desires for our hearts to transform so we can become more and more like Christ. As you continue discipleship in your small group, pray for the friends you have ahead of you, behind you, and around you on your journey.