As a church, we want our people to seek first Christ and His kingdom. One of our core identities is that we are disciples. Jesus calls us to take up our cross, so we learn from Scripture to follow Christ as our King. One way we seek to develop as followers of Jesus is through Discipleship Groups (DGs).

In the life of our church, DGs have been pretty organic (sometimes so organic that we really didn’t know who was even in one!). A few people would meet here and there for various studies, but there was little structure to them. Over the years, we’ve been refining DGs to include more structure. The Sunday morning worship gathering brings everyone together as a large body to worship together and is the staple of our life of discipleship. Gospel Life Groups are larger groups of individuals and families that are great at establishing and building relationships in community. Discipleship Groups are best at deepening our relationships with Jesus and one another.

ANATOMY OF A DISCIPLESHIP GROUP

The purpose of DGs is to equip everyone in our church to help others follow Jesus. DGs are typically groups of 2-5 people of the same gender who meet regularly (usually weekly or bi-weekly) to either discover Christ or grow in Christ. We read the Scriptures and gospel-saturated books, pray for one another, and share in the joys and struggles of following Jesus together.

There are 5 basic elements in every DG:

1) Bible or gospel-rich book study

Not everyone is an avid reader, but God has revealed himself through words, so we grow together through reading and studying. Discipleship Groups are not limited to “Bible studies.” To be sure, we would love for people to study Scripture together. But we can also grow in our knowledge and application of Christian truths by reading gospel-rich books on topics such as marriage, parenting, finances, anxiety, suffering, and various men’s and women’s studies. The point is not merely more knowledge but to listen and do in very practical ways (James 1:22).

2) Scripture memory

One of the best ways to combat the devil in spiritual war is through wielding the Sword of the Spirit (i.e. the Bible). Groups might choose to memorize specific verses or an entire passage based on their study together or they can use Fighter Verses as a great ready-made resource to get started.

3) Praying for one another

In his book on Christian Community called Life Together, German pastor and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Intercession is a daily service we owe to God and our brother. He who denies his neighbor the service of praying for him denies him the service of a Christian.” Praying for one another is one of the most powerful acts of love. It requires no money and can be done anywhere at any time. Christians praying for one another has great power (James 5:16). We have a saying at KCC, “When you don’t know what else to do, then pray, because prayer is doing something.”

Intercession is a daily service we owe to God and our brother. He who denies his neighbor the service of praying for him denies him the service of a Christian.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

4) Transparency

In order to grow with one another, we must know one another. The Apostle Paul calls on believers to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We can’t bear burdens that aren’t laid bare. As Christians, we are also called to share in the joys and sorrows of one another (Romans 12:15). Sometimes this calls for confessing sins to one another (James 5:16). The Christian life might be personal, but it’s not meant to be private. It’s meant to be lived out in community. Community is best built on honest ground. Transparency leads to trust, and trust leads to strong relationships.

5) Commitment

DG’s are an opportunity to make sacrifices for the spiritual good of others and for the glory of God. We are committing to meet together, and this commitment isn’t to be taken lightly. It involves a commitment to regularly read, memorize, pray, be transparent, and show up and actively participate.

TAKING UP THE CROSS OF A DISCIPLESHIP GROUP

Jesus says that if we want to come after Him, we must be committed to at least 3 actions: 1) deny ourselves, 2) take up our crosses daily, and then 3) follow in His steps (Luke 9:23). Following Jesus is no walk in the park. It requires sacrificing our own schedules, comforts, and priorities. Indeed, Jesus says that if we put anything ahead of following Him—even our own families—we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:25-33). Following Jesus is costly, but the reward of following after and suffering for Him is incomparably greater than the cost (Matthew 13:44).

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
-Luke 9:23

Typically, we launch DGs during the summer when schedules are busier but more flexible. Ideally, groups will meet for 8-12 times total between May and August (roughly 2 months if meeting weekly and 4 months if meeting every other week). People are encouraged to choose for various men’s and women’s groups based on days and times you are available this summer. The day, time, location, and study DGs are all set by the leader of the group. 

Each group will look a bit different but with the same general structure. For example, a group of guys might meet every other Saturday morning and discuss a book on biblical manhood for a few months. Another DG might be a bunch of ladies doing an in-depth Bible study every Wednesday morning for 10 weeks. There are many different ways to go about discipling one another. This is how we’ve chosen to go about it. Hopefully, this will help people stay connected and keep growing in the Lord and in community with others over the summer months.