Not too long ago my sister-in-law made a treat for her family, a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. The whole family was understandably excited, that is until they took the first bite. Instead of a warm, gooey cookie, these particular cookies were described as going “Poof” when you bit into them. Obviously, something was off in the cookie-making process. She went back and studied the recipe and all of the ingredients she had used to discover she had accidentally used powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar! The right ingredients make all the difference. Even having one ingredient just slightly off changes the end result dramatically.
The same is true when it comes to a Discipleship Group. We have an end goal, which is to intentionally equip believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. That doesn’t just happen on its own. There is a recipe that produces this desired result. This blog series is going to take an in depth look at the 9 essential principles and elements of a Discipleship Group.
The first essential is Leadership. Each D-Group has to have one person identified as the leader of the group in order to have the greatest impact on those involved. Yes, the D-Group is more roundtable discussion than a teacher-student lecture, but having a declared leader is absolutely essential. Here are four key reasons why:
- Jesus was clearly the leader of his groups. Whether it be the 12 disciples or his smaller group of Peter, James and John that he spent significant time with. There was never any ambiguity as to who was leading the group. Jesus regularly let members of these groups have responsibility but He was always the one guiding the process. And after all, he is the one we are trying to be more like, right?
- A Discipleship Group needs a leader to set the pace. When it comes to daily reading and journaling, memorization, prayer, evangelism, etc. each D-Group has to have that one person that you can all but guarantee is going to get the job done. The group needs a leader so that they have someone to aspire to become. They need to be able to look at the leader and see someone that is where they want to be at the end of their time together.
- Accountability requires a leader. Discipleship Groups without a leader find it virtually impossible to hold each other accountable to practicing the spiritual disciplines. Why is it difficult? Nobody has any authority in the group. If everyone is on the same level, what gives any one member the right to hold another to a certain standard? The group needs that pace-setting leader that can honestly say, “I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not doing.”
- A leader keeps the conversation moving in the right direction. People like to talk. And without the leader to guide the conversation you may find yourself way out in left field and not realize how you got there. We have specific items we want to discuss each week in our D-Groups and the leader is the one that makes sure they happen because he or she has the responsibility to steer the conversation.
You can have a Discipleship Group without an identified leader, but you might not like the results your group produces. Leadership is essential to the growth and success of any organization, team, church, club, etc. and Discipleship Groups are no different.