Call Up, Don’t Call Out: How to Call on People in Your Discipleship Group

Call Up, Don’t Call Out: How to Call on People in Your Discipleship Group

We’ve all been there: you show up to a class, meeting, or presentation and feel totally unprepared. It’s weighing down your mind, dampening your spirit. It’s all you can think about. Then you get to the place you’re dreading knowing full well how unprepared you are, and the worst happens: you get called out on it. Sure, you could have done more to prepare, but it’s too late for that now. Some of you might feel motivated by those situations: ready to do better next time. But for most of us, being called out serves mainly to demoralize. In your Discipleship Group, you’re going to face conflict. People will miss the mark. But this presents us with an opportunity to resolve it in a way that restores people and helps them look more like Jesus. Below, we are going to give practical tips for how to call on people in your discipleship group.  

Call Up vs Call Out

On the surface, calling up and calling out might share a couple of similarities, but the difference between them is absolutely crucial. Consider a situation that you’ll probably face at some point when leading a Discipleship Group: you are meeting at your regular time, but for the third week in a row, one of your members comes without their memory verses prepared. Calling someone out is rooted in challenging them, trying to catch them in a lie, publicly airing their mistakes, or belittling them if they’re being self-righteous. You’re pointing out something that they’ve been caught in for the purpose of contradicting them. In our situation, that looks like a snide remark: “Oh, there’s a shocker. Mark didn’t come prepared.” Whatever frustration you might be feeling in this situation might, for the moment, feel a little bit soothed. But a call-out is hardly the most productive way to address this situation. Instead, you should try calling them up. Calling someone up also involves confronting someone who misses the mark, but the motivation is entirely different. You want to help this person be better than they were the day before. In our situation, calling your Discipleship Group Member up might look more like the following: You pull them aside after the group and mention that you’ve noticed there has been a lapse in their commitment. But instead of leaving it there, you follow up with an important question: “Is there something going on that I can help you with?” In Galatians 6:1, Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” The same is true even for situations that aren’t necessarily sinful. Anyone at any stage in life can be called up. As disciple-makers, we should want to move everyone we meet one step closer to looking like Jesus, and to do so lovingly.  

Truth Spoken vs Truth Heard

Whenever there is a situation where something needs to be addressed, whether it is an attitude or behavior, a concern or even a sinful pattern, we must ask ourselves, “Is it more important that I speak the truth or that they receive the truth?” Truth to be Spoken
  • You need to get something off of your chest
  • Rooted in pride
  • Shared for the purpose of making yourself feel better, lighter, or justified
Truth to be Heard
  • You want someone else to understand something important
  • Rooted in compassion
  • Shared for the purpose of helping someone else
Rarely can both of these situations be fulfilled at the same time; you’re going to have to choose one or the other. As leaders who are trying to become more like Christ, we should prioritize the latter even though it means that we’ll be putting our own selfish motivations aside.  

Action Steps: How to Call on Group Members

As you learn to call people up, not out, keep the following things in mind:
  • Speak truth, but speak it with an abundance of grace and love
  • Be charitable not critical. Be generous with the benefit of the doubt
  • Assume ignorance, not obstinance or open rebellion
  • Ask more questions than you give answers
  • Avoid making it a debate
  As we learn to call one another up and spurn each other on to be more like Jesus, we will develop a culture where people can thrive spiritually and grow each day into Christlikeness. If you need resources to help you with any step of your disciple-making journey, feel free to check out our online resources. We’re praying for each of you as you make disciples who make disciple-makers.