Over the next several weeks we will hear from various pastors who have taken part or are currently in the Replicate Cohort. We will hear stories from these pastors about how a disciplemaking strategy started and took root in their churches. Click here for more information about the Replicate Cohort. – Tim.
Today’s blog is from Chris DeGeorge of Calvary Baptist Church is in Tupelo, MS, which was founded in 1935. From the very beginning, the church’s highest goal has been the Glory of Christ among the nations. Their desire is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by making disciples who make disciples. You can find out more by going to www.calvarytupelo.com
When I arrived at Calvary Baptist Church in the summer of 2016, there was one group of men who had been walking through Robby Gallaty’s Growing Up for ten weeks. I was in the early part of my participation the Replicate Equipping Cohort, and was working on a plan to develop an intentional discipleship strategy for the church. Since I grabbed our Associate Pastor and we went to work, we have watched that ministry consistently grow and begin to thrive. It now includes both Men’s Groups and Women’s Groups and is beginning to see the fruits of exponential growth. This intentionality involves many facets of church life. The one aspect that has proven very different for the church is the use of Intentional Discipleship Groups (D-Groups) to facilitate disciplemaking. D-Groups have impacted us in major ways, and our prayer is that these groups would grow to include our entire congregation.
Here are three benefits Intentional Discipleship Groups provide for our church.
D-Groups provide a capacity for relationships and accountability.
Growing up in South Louisiana, it was easy to find a summer job working in the oil field. I worked for a company that inspected drilling pipe used on oil rigs. While it was my job to clean, the major task for the company was to inspect the pipe for cracks or other issues. Pipe with issues had to either be fixed or decommissioned. Too many churches promote the idea that people are like these pipes: that a class setting once a week is enough to provide the spiritual growth and accountability that is needed for a vibrant faith. These churches make personal discipleship just that—personal and private. D-Groups have given our church members the ability to be accountable to one another. We need frequent spiritual checkups, and through intentional discipleship groups a church can build that type of culture.
D-Groups provide an opportunity to encourage and practice the Spiritual Disciplines together.
In my experience, most people do not have a conception of the spiritual disciplines and the impact they make on their life. For our church, Intentional Discipleship Groups give our members a tangible way to learn the disciplines and see the impact they have on their life. I still remember a lady from our church sitting in my office with a Dallas Willard book in her hand that she was, “overwhelmed with joy that there was something more.” She had been in lots of studies and gained lots of information, but no one had ever shown her what intimacy looked like. D-Groups help those only used to drinking milk learn how to feast on the solid food of God’s Word through the practice of the spiritual disciplines.
D-Groups provide the context to realize our Commission and Calling.
The importance of personal encouragement and challenging each other cannot be overestimated. When I was in high school I heard them call for people to join the track and field team. I thought about it, and just didn’t act. I knew I wanted to do it, and felt like I had something to offer, but I didn’t follow through. Then the track coach told me I should try it—that I neededto run. The next day I showed up and found my place in something that would be a significant part of my life throughout my college years and on to today. How many Christians are out there desiring to be obedient and just needing someone to not only nudge them to action, but model the practice? D- Groups have provided a capacity for disciplemaking (evangelism and discipleship) to begin to work its way into the culture of our church.