A great question to consider, what do we do during our discipleship group meetings? Another way to ask it may be, how do I structure my discipleship group time? Remember, a discipleship group (a d-group) is a gender specific group of 3 to 5 that journeys together for the purpose of spiritual growth.
Greg Ogden, in his book Transforming Discipleship talks about the power of a d-group to change and transform lives. Notice what he says, “When we open our hearts in transparent trust, around the truth of God’s Word in a spirit of mutual accountability we are in the Holy Spirit’s hothouse of transformation.”
Here Ogden lays out the three most important aspects of a d-group; Transparent trust, the truth of God’s Word, and mutual accountability. That being said, we must keep these three aspects of a d-group in mind as we structure our groups.
Begin With Prayer
As you begin your d-group meeting, have someone open in prayer; asking God to work in and through the group meeting time. This shouldn’t be an extended prayer time, you’ll pray for specific prayer needs from the group members at the end of your meeting time.
After someone opens in prayer, have a time of intentional conversations. During this time group members can “catch up” with each other and share what has been happening since your last group meeting. I typically ask my group to share highs and lows of the week. You can ask them to share celebrations, praises or challenges.
Occasionally, someone in the group may have experienced something devastating, sickness, a death in their family or close friend, a wayward child, financial troubles, or their marriage could be hanging by a thread. When these things happen, take time right then to pray and minister to that group member. Seek to comfort and encourage them. Sometimes this can take the whole of the group time, and if it does, that’s OK. You want to set the example for your group that ministering to those who are hurting in a time of crisis can trump anything else you had planned.
Group members will quote memory verses for the week. You will want to encourage your group during this time to strive for getting the verses “word perfect” and also getting the correct reference. Make this time fun and don’t forget to celebrate with your group as they hide the Word of God in their hearts.
Share H.E.A.R. Journals
During this time group members will share how God spoke to them through His Word during their time alone with God. Remember, that the key is in the application section of the journal entry. As we say, “knowledge without application is useless information.” Also, as members share, look for “teachable moments” to ask follow up questions or help your group by clarifying difficult concepts or truth from the Word.
For more info how to write a HEAR journal, check out this link.
Spend a few moments keeping each other accountable. Some groups may use accountability questions or do what we call “text-driven” accountability. That is accountability that is based on scripture. This could be based on the readings for the week or on an application point from a H.E.A.R. Journal.
Two principles come in to play here. The first principle is, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” Through accountability we can gauge the success of the group moving towards Christ-likeness. The second principle is that grace should be the driving force for your accountability not legalism.
Pray For One Another
During this closing time, we share specific prayer requests and pray for one another. I usually allow enough time to go around the group allowing the members of my group to pray for one another. I tell my group, “Now is not the time to catch up on your prayer life.” Encourage them to pray short, specific, prayers that are gospel centered.