A church is successful when everyone is in the game, maturing into disciples of Jesus who can reproduce other disciples of Jesus.
One of the main thrusts of DiscipleShift 1 training is the importance of a relational environment to making disciples of Jesus. Small Groups are one such relational environment that works well when trying to create a culture of disciple making in your church. Because they are so often talked about, sometimes people mistakenly get the idea that Small Groups are the goal – that if you are a church that has developed Small Groups you have hit the target.However, the target is not a relational environment. A relational environment is the vehicle we travel in to get to the destination. A church is successful when everyone in the church is in the game, maturing into disciples who can reproduce other disciples. The purpose of the church has been, and should always be, to make disciples of Jesus.
You can have small groups and not make disciples, just ask frequent members to a neighborhood bar, or a sports team in a league, or for that matter the wait staff at a restaurant!
There must be a combination of specific components that are used in conjunction with a small group in order to make disciples.
An Intentional Leader: A car doesn’t get very far unless there is someone in the drivers seat with a key. This leader is driving the group towards the destination, or purpose. It helps if the leader has already made the trip and is familiar with the route!
A Relational Environment: The driver has to have something that drives – and something that accommodates passengers. Relationships are what God uses to communicate His truth and help people grow. Without relationships, the journey of discipleship could become ineffective. Motivation can die because no one is there to celebrate a breakthrough or support us when we struggle. Relationships create the environment where discipleship happens best.
A Map – The Reproducible Process: The third component for this successful journey is a map. Using a map helps eliminate the risk of getting lost or off track from your destination. The road map for making disciples is the reproducible process. This process allows us to measure a disciple’s progress – to figure out where they are in the journey so we have a better idea of what they need. And it teaches the disciple the route, so that they in turn can share it with others.
The entire discipleship journey has a biblical foundation. In other words, these three elements of the discipleship journey are modeled in Scripture, especially in the life of Jesus and in the early church. You can make a disciple without a biblical foundation, but you won’t be making a disciple of Jesus.
When people talk about Real Life Ministries, we love to be known as a Disciple Making Church, rather than a Small Group Church. Small Groups are a core essential to us, but they are the vehicle we use to reach our destination – which is being a Disciple Making Church.