Over the past fifteen years, we’ve had the privilege of pastoring churches with thousands of Discipleship Groups (D-Groups) and have collaborated with countless pastors to implement these groups within their own congregations. Through countless trials, errors, successes, and failures, we’ve gained invaluable insights into what makes D-Groups thrive. In this blog post, we’ll reveal the number one reason behind the failure of many Discipleship Groups and share our upcoming series of D-Group Case Files, which will help you avoid the pitfalls that can hinder the success of these vital ministries.
The Two Types of Ministries: Engagement and Empowerment
In every church, there are two types of ministries: Engagement ministries and Empowerment ministries. Engagement ministries, such as Worship Services, Small Groups, Sunday School classes, and Volunteer Teams, are primarily owned by the church and exist to draw people into the life of the congregation. In contrast, Empowerment ministries are owned by the individual and focus on equipping and sending disciples out into the world to make a difference in their communities.
The Role of Discipleship Groups
D-Groups are a perfect example of Empowerment ministries, as their primary purpose is to equip and send believers out to make disciples in their spheres of influence. However, the number one reason D-Groups fail is that church staff often mistakenly lead them as Engagement ministries instead of Empowerment ministries. This common mistake results in treating D-Groups like deeper connection points within the church, rather than as training grounds to send people out on the church’s mission.
Why Does This Happen?
Unfortunately, many church staff and members have never experienced Empowerment ministries before, so they naturally approach D-Groups from an Engagement perspective. They make decisions they believe will benefit the ministry, but these decisions often turn out to be detrimental instead.
Through our numerous conversations with frustrated or disheartened pastors whose D-Groups struggled or failed, we’ve consistently traced the root cause back to this fundamental misunderstanding of the D-Group’s purpose.
Introducing D-Group Case Files
In the coming month, we will share one of our favorite consulting exercises: D-Group Case Files. This series will explore the eight “Suspect Strategies” that most frequently lead to the demise of church D-Groups. By analyzing hundreds of churches that have implemented D-Groups, we’ve identified the key dynamics that differentiate thriving and struggling D-Group ministries.
By understanding the distinction between Engagement and Empowerment Ministries and embracing the true purpose of Discipleship Groups, your church can experience a thriving D-Group ministry that equips and sends believers out into the world to make a lasting impact.
Stay tuned for our upcoming D-Group Case Files series to learn how to avoid common pitfalls.
Join Our D-Group Co-Lab this Fall
If you’re looking to prioritize Discipleship Groups in your church this fall, consider joining our Discipleship Group Co-Lab from August to December. We will guide the first 10 churches that sign up to launch, relaunch, or sustain their D-Groups for the next year. If you’re interested, click here to learn more and apply.