How to Begin Your Discipleship Group
You’ve found three or four other people who have agreed to go on a discipleship journey with you. You’ve set up your first meeting together, perhaps in a coffee shop or a cafe, and you’re fired up to begin.
But you might have a question looming in the back of your head: “Okay, what do I do now?”
Today, let’s look at exactly what you should expect from this very first meeting with your new Discipleship Group so that you can set it up for success and point it in the right direction.
Step 1: Set Expectations
From the first moments of this first meeting, you are setting the tone for how the group will operate. It is important that the members of your group know what they should expect on a weekly basis going forward.
When you gather for your first meeting together, one of the first expectations you, as the leader, can set is that of vulnerability and authenticity. One practical way to do this is by sharing testimonies.
Even if the members of your group are hesitant to share theirs, you can lead by showing them how to share what Jesus has done in your life.
A good testimony contains three pieces of information:
- Who you were before knowing Jesus
- How you met Jesus and decided to follow Him
- What that has meant for you since
Vulnerability and authenticity underscore every aspect of the Discipleship Group, because accountability cannot happen without honesty, confidentiality, and transparency.
As you grow together over time, these things will be easier to cultivate. But right away you can set the bar by example.
Step 2: Establish Disciplines
In addition to modeling authenticity for your members, you can take time in this meeting to explain what is going to be expected of each member going forward.
The bar for a Discipleship Group member is low: any believer of Jesus meets the qualification. But while the bar may be low, the expectation for each member is high.
Explain to your group that, together, you will be focusing on scripture memory and reading, journaling, accountability, and prayer. We will be breaking down each of these in the coming weeks.
You might be like me and love physical handouts. If so, you can print or send digital copies of the Discipleship Group Overview to help your members visualize what being in the group entails.
After you have explained what your weekly meetings will consist of (each of the disciplines mentioned in bold above), we encourage everyone in your group – yourself included – to sign a Discipleship Group Covenant, like the one here.
By signing the covenant, you have a tangible way to hold each of your members accountable, and they can do the same for you.
Step 3: Begin With the End in Mind
After you have met with your group for a year, you will have developed a close bond. It will be a place of comfort and confidence, and the relationships you have with each other may be some of the deepest relationships you have had in your life. You may even want to keep meeting forever.
While that is a nice thought, it isn’t what a Discipleship Group is for. Prepare your group from the beginning that you will not be together forever, that after a year or a year and a half, you will send them off to replicate this group with other believers.
Discipleship never ends. It starts again.
At Replicate, we pray that you will be excited but also equipped to make Jesus’ final command your first priority. Feel free to check out any of the resources we have available at replicate.org/dgroup to help you along the way.