It doesn’t matter what stage you are in with your discipleship group, there’s going to be a moment when you start wondering whether the people in your group are connecting with one another.
Even if they’re starting to open up to each other with a little more ease, there are steps we can take as leaders to ensure the connection your members have with each other goes beyond the superficial and are, instead, the kinds of relationships that lead to life change.
So without further ado, let’s explore how you can foster meaningful connection in your discipleship group.
There are three primary reasons we want to sure up the relationships among those in your group:
1. You’re Growing Together
This group of people is who you’re going to spend the next 12-18 months with. You’re going to be speaking into each other’s lives, which needs to come from a place of understanding and love–and you need everybody on the same page if that is going to happen.
2. Accountability and Community are Crucial
Two of the MARCS of a disciple are “Accountable” and “Communal.” Neither of these can happen in a vacuum, and neither of them will happen by accident. We need to be intentional about strengthening the bonds of those in our groups.
3. Trust Precedes Transparency
Before there can be accountability, there needs to be connection. True connection with a brother or sister in Christ stems from transparency. But without trust, transparency will never happen. If you can cultivate an atmosphere of trust among your members, the rest of these will fall in line.
If you’re having trouble strengthening the connection between your group members, try some of the following strategies:
One of the temptations when leading a discipleship group is to prioritize the curriculum or agenda over the people in your group. Try having your members share their testimonies to remind everyone what this group is about in the first place: each other.
Spiritual Inventory Exercise
If you want to help your group get to know each other–and themselves–better, try having them complete a spiritual inventory exercise. Here and here are examples of what one of these exercises looks like. By completing and discussing these, you’ll find your members start connecting a little more strongly with each other.
Don’t let yourselves fall into the trap of only seeing each other once a week when you meet. Instead, plan hangout nights with each other and with your families that are entirely agenda-less. The only goal of a hangout night is to have fun with each other.
You might find that you have a chance to get away from the normal pattern of life and take a trip together. Breaking out of the ordinary is a great way to build up camaraderie with those in your group. It will also make it easier to build that fundamental trust and transparency that produces true community with those in your group.
Foster Connection and Grow Together
Whatever method you choose for fostering connection in your discipleship group, whether it’s one above or one that you find works for you, go out of your way to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for your group members to grow closer together, both socially and spiritually.
You might find that you’re looking for some extra resources as you learn how to make disciples who make disciple-makers. If that applies to you, check out some of what we have available at replicate.org/dgroup.