It’s not necessary to start well in order to finish well, but it sure does help! The first week your group meets goes a long way towards laying the foundation for the whole year, so we ought to put some thought into doing it well.
This first week will look really different than any other week. There are three things we want to make sure we cover and you can find them all in the D-Group Starter Guide. Give your new group members this guide before you meet and ask them to familiarize themselves with the content found in week 1. This will greatly enhance your first meeting if they are able to look over this material ahead of time.
Get to Know One Another (30 Minutes)
Before we do anything else we’ve simply got to get to know the people in our group! Spend about half of your time hearing each other’s stories and asking good questions. Some simple conversation suggestions for this time are:
- Share a 2-3 minute version of your testimony.
- What are you most looking forward to in this group?
- Tell us about your family, work, and personal hobbies.
- What is one thing that you are excited or intrigued by right now?
If someone flies through telling their testimony feel free to ask follow up questions about their story. If they still don’t give you much though, don’t sweat it. Remember, you’re going to be with this person for 12-18 months so don’t feel like you’ve got to get their whole life story in the first meeting.
Have fun with these new guys or gals. Find some common interests. These are the things that are going to ensure people come back for week 2!
Clarify Expectations (20 Minutes)
You did a great job setting expectations when you extended the invitation to this discipleship group, but let’s make sure everyone is on the same page now that you’re actually in a room together. In a D-Group, the expectation is that you will meet weekly if at all possible and that you will do your best in five disciplines:
- Bible Reading
- H.E.A.R. Journaling
- Scripture Memory
These disciplines create an environment for God to work in our lives to produce growth in the MARCS of a disciple. These MARCS are five areas of a disciple’s life that we want to focus on as we grow in Christlikeness: Missional, Accountable, Reproducible, Communal, Scriptural. (We’ll expand on these next week)
Answer any questions the group has about the standard you will be holding each other to and then it’s time to take the plunge.
Commit to Each Other (10 Minutes)
Signing a covenant (also found in the D-Group Starter Guide) is one of the most impactful ways to set your group up for success. You might get some weird looks when the time comes for this, but if you think about it we sign covenants all the time when we sign up for a streaming service, buy a phone, purchase a car, etc. It’s not as scary as the word “covenant” may seem. Each of you is simply saying, “This is what you can expect from me and I’m allowing you to hold me to this standard.”
Plus, it is GREAT for the group to see the leader also signing a covenant. You’re showing from the beginning that you’re not up on a pedestal compared to the rest of the group, you’re in it just like they are.
Make sure everyone knows the Bible reading between now and the next meeting and get the ball rolling!
Once you’ve had this initial meeting the real fun is about to begin as you grow closer together and closer to the Lord.
The best way for you to ensure your starts on the same page might be to give them a copy of the D-Group Starter Guide! This resource will help you and your F.A.I.T.H.ful group members get off to a healthy start and set you up for success over the next 12-18 months.
Pastors, help your church members find others to disciple and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.