If you are a pastor or lay leader on the front end of getting a discipleship movement started at your church you have probably asked yourself this question. We all want things to pick up steam as quick as possible and this is a logical way to make that happen. Why just disciple 3 or 4 men or women when you could be building up 6-8 other disciple makers?!
I love the ambition, drive and initiative in this question and thought process. At the same time, I want to encourage you to prioritize health over efficiency in your disciplemaking ministry. If you’ve ever tried to lead more than one group you know you had your hands full trying to juggle all that comes along with it. Here are a couple of situations where it would likely be wise to focus on just one group and two other scenarios where it could be appropriate to consider leading more than one discipleship group.
The Beginning of the Movement
We all want to start out strong and the best way to do that is to start healthy. To start healthy, you need to focus on leading one group really well. I know we all are anxious to see our numbers grow as quickly as possible, but it is much better for your ministry in the long run to start slow and steady to ensure quality. Remember, these first few people you disciple are the ones that will set the tone for the rest of the church. You want these to be high quality leaders who you know you have trained well.
Almost Any Other Time
Whether you are in full time vocational ministry or are a dedicated church member, you have plenty going on outside of your time with your discipleship group. Discipling people is time consuming. It is not just the 90 minutes you spend with your group each week. You’re likely heavily involved in ministering to your group members throughout the rest of the week too. It can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Most people simply do not have the bandwidth to care for more than a handful of people. To have upwards of eight people at one time looking to you as a hands-on spiritual mentor is asking a lot of the best of us. It is also likely a recipe for eventual burnout. For your own spiritual health, spend your time focused on one group
A Specific Ministry Assignment
Perhaps discipleship falls under your leadership role at your church. In that situation there may be times that you think it would be wise or your senior pastor tasks you to take on two groups at once to gain experience rapidly or to speed up the process of replication. This needs to be a specific task for a specific time period. As long as everyone understands the time and energy it will take to do this, go for it! Just ensure that other things are taken off your plate to provide the capacity to lead both groups in a high-quality manner.
If you’ve made it to this point in life, congratulations! You have time freed up that most of the rest of us do not have. If you’re willing to commit to putting two meetings on your schedule each week, this is a stage of life that leading two groups could work well. It could even be energizing and motivating if you were to disciple some younger folks who are looking to get where you are some day! If you’ve determined in your heart to honor the Lord with your retirement, this is a great way to do just that.
In most scenarios, it is unwise to try to lead two discipleship groups simply because of what that requires from the leader. You are not less of a Christian if you “only” lead one group! In fact, you are truly leading the way in your church context when you lead one. Whatever you decide to do, keep yourself spiritually healthy, give it your all and keep working towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission!
No matter how many groups you are leading, the D-Group Starter Guide will help you lead well!
Pastors, help your church members end groups well, and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.