What Is a Discipleship Group?

What Is a Discipleship Group?

The Discipleship Group is one of the most powerful tools the Church has today to help us become the believers Jesus commissioned us to be.   That’s a pretty big statement. Give us a second to explain.   If we asked you to tell us the first thing that comes to mind when we say, “Football,” what would your answer be?   It might be something like helmets or shoulder pads. Football weather or football games. Maybe it’s a memory you have of your first time walking into a big stadium to watch a game.   But if we went to Liverpool and asked them the same thing, their answers would be pretty different. They’d start describing what we call a soccer game. Just because we used the same word, that doesn’t mean we’re talking about the same thing.    The exact same situation has happened in the church. We use words like “discipleship” frequently. They might describe a ministry of the church or a special training on a weeknight.   The problem is that, while these things aren’t bad, they aren’t discipleship. At least not what Jesus meant when He described it.  

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:19

As far as we can tell, Jesus didn’t hand His disciples an instruction manual with a list of steps about what it means to “make disciples.” But He didn’t need to. He’d given them the instruction manual all along–and they knew it.    

How Jesus Made Disciples 

Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully man. So when He began His ministry, He did it in a way that other people could replicate. He structured His life around patterns of intentional ministry.   By the time that Jesus ascended to heaven and the disciples were waiting in the upper room, there were about 120 people present who followed Him (Acts 1:15).   But as we know, He spent most of His time around just twelve. These would have seen the bulk of His ministry. They would’ve seen the miracles firsthand and would’ve spent time learning from Him more intentionally than the other, bigger group of believers that slowly got added to their number.   Of these twelve, there were three who had a little bit of a closer look at Jesus’ ministry. Peter, James, and John–figures who would become key leaders in the church after Jesus’ death and resurrection–joined Him in His most personal moments.   They saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3) and were the only ones allowed in with Him when He raised Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49-56). These three got to walk a little more closely with Jesus than the rest.    So when Jesus told these followers to go and make disciples of all nations, they knew exactly what He meant, because they’d walked the road of discipleship with Him.   This is what a Discipleship Group looks like. It’s a collection of three to five believers who are intentional about pouring into each other’s lives and carrying out Jesus’ final command to His disciples. If you’d like to know more about how to start a Discipleship Group, download out our free D-Group Starter Guide, and if you’re a pastor wanting to start D-Groups in your church, we recommend you check out our Discipleship Blueprint training.