Chapter 10
New wine requires a new skin, right?
A noted religious author and the elected state leader of a large denomination told me recently, “I have observed with interest…over the last 25 years…congregations as they attempted to expand small group involvement to secure the future of their congregations. Creating countless, new small groups by assigning members without common interests or without providing sufficient guidance often resulted in “rudderless groups” of frustrated members struggling to know what went wrong. Many active church members got burned out trying to keep alive their groups. Without the overarching attention to making disciples through small groups, however, most churches I watched closely were not terribly successful.”
In light of the foregoing, Chapter10 of DiscipleShift makes sense because relational small groups geared toward equipping disciples and making disciples represent an opportunity to catapult the church’s focus from activity to relationships. The authors state, “Everything in a corporate body needs to funnel people toward relational small groups where discipleship can best happen”. I don’t know if I fully subscribe to that, but I do agree that relationships which are led by the Spirit of God are at the heart of disciple-making.
According to the authors, these are essential elements of relational small groups:
1. A small group needs to know its spiritual reason for being
2. “… the small group’s purpose should be defined as encouraging discipleship….not primarily fellowship or even outreach”
3. A small group must be spirit led if it is to survive
What will be the consequences to First Presbyterian if we become serious about using relational small groups as our primary basis for emphasizing disciple-making?
1. A significant reprioritization of our ministries and priorities toward relational small groups, together with a well-planned explanation and program for “buy-in” from the membership.
2. A shift in how the Church’s resources (both human and financial) are allocated.
3. A continuing evaluation of each existing and proposed ministry in light of its disciple-making impact (from choral groups, bible studies, fellowship activities, etc.)
4. Modification of ministries so that we do not sap energy away from what God values.
5. Structuring small groups such that each has the following: 1/ Clear goal of discipleship; 2/ Leadership; 3/ a Biblically relevant environment; 4/ A reproducible process and
5/ Supporting organization.
I’d be interested to see how far you believe we have moved toward this model…