The first week of your discipleship group includes conversation about where you’re headed for the year. We need to have a target in mind for what areas of life where we need to grow. You’ve heard it before, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. A discipleship group is an intentional time when we want to see each other mature, so where do we actually need to be seeing progress as a Christian? A discipleship group is a greenhouse for growth in these five MARCS of a disciple.
Missional – A disciple engages with those unengaged with the church.
Christians ought to constantly be maturing in how they view their surroundings. The Kingdom grows when we see the places we frequent as our mission field. Your neighborhood, workplace, gym, library, park, etc. are all filled with people who need the good news of Christ. Especially in the world’s current situation, people are more likely than ever to be open to spiritual conversations.
Each person in your discipleship group should always have at least one person they are investing in with a goal of sharing the gospel with them. This “Who’s Your One?” mentality is simple and effective in developing a missional mindset. Everybody can think of one!
Accountable – A disciple is real with oneself, God, and others.
I’m sure you can attest that it is incredibly difficult to achieve a goal or maintain a discipline without someone checking in on you from time to time. Accountability helps us stay faithful to our commitments. In fact, it may be the most helpful aspect of a d-group. A system of accountability makes everything else happen.
In a discipleship group, we are submitting ourselves to a few other people and giving them permission to hold us accountable in the areas of sin, evangelism and the spiritual disciplines. In order to grow in Christlikeness we have to allow others to speak into our lives and develop the ability to learn from critique. If you want people to help you grow, a discipleship group is the place for you.
Reproducible – A disciple invests in men and women who are of F.A.I.T.H. (Faithful, Available, Intentional, Teachable, Hungry)
We say all the time that the process of discipleship is not complete until the mentee becomes the mentor. Scripture tells us in many places that we are to reproduce ourselves in the lives of others. We take what we have learned and teach it to the next man or woman. The gospel is not something to keep for ourselves!
Everyone in your discipleship group needs to agree to at least pray about leading their own group once this current group is finished. Even if someone is nervous about it to begin with, encourage them to be faithful praying about who they could invest in throughout the year.
One other aspect of reproducibility that needs to be addressed is the simplicity of a d-group. We want our time together to be fruitful but that does not mean it needs to be complicated. Make sure you lead your group in such a way that your group members can see themselves doing it. Remember, this is not a teacher-student scenario. We are peers locking arms and moving toward Christ together.
Communal – A disciple intentionally shares life with other believers.
You can see your future self by looking at the company you keep now. We absolutely must spend time around people who do not know Jesus, but we also need to make sure that our closest community is with those who are going to encourage us in right thinking and behavior.
A discipleship group is a great step to take in developing meaningful friendships which help you honor God with your life. Christians ought to have other Christians walking side by side with them to keep each other on the path.
Scriptural – A disciple experiences intimacy with Christ through regularly reading, meditating, and obeying God’s word.
All of the MARCS hinge on this one. The Word of God is the non-negotiable foundation of the life of a disciple and core of a discipleship group. If you do nothing else, spend time reading and discussing Scripture together and storing it in your heart through memorization. This is where God does his best work in our lives.
Make sure your group has these five MARCS in mind when you begin your time together. Then you can check in on each other in each area from time to time. Pick each other up in the place where you’re lagging behind and celebrate the areas where you’re seeing God work!
The best way for you to ensure your starts on the same page might be to give them a copy of the D-Group Starter Guide! This resource will help you and your F.A.I.T.H.ful group members get off to a healthy start and set you up for success over the next 12-18 months.
Pastors, help your church members find others to disciple and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.