After all the discussion and blog posts this past Spring/Summer on discipleship models, my church landed on two questions and one measurement to help people become more like Jesus. Let me back up though and fill in the importance surrounding the issues of discipleship.
It’s all about life-change. Small Groups are great for hands on Bible learning. Small Groups are also great for friendships. When a Small Group does not make the leap toward life-change in actions however, we’ve minimized the value of the rest.
Creating life-change in Small Groups comes down to creating an environment where the tough stuff can be talked about – even bigger than that – an environment where tough stuff will be talked about. You don’t need brash accountability or methodical systems to pull this off, just two simple questions and enough time to respond.
The two simplest questions that will create life-change in our Small Groups are…
- What is God telling you to work on? And then…
- How can we help?
You’re not putting anyone on the spot or forcing them to change; you’re just reminding them that following Jesus is all about life-change. If someone isn’t listening to Jesus, or isn’t acting on what they hear from him, they are not following anyway. We ought to presume they’d like us to draw attention to inconsistencies, and keep them on track, until they indicate otherwise.
Two questions, although simple, have the potential to mess up the format of your group. As simple as they may be, they take a lot of time to answer well. I estimate a group of six would easily take 30 minutes to answers, discuss, and pray through what God is telling them to work on. If a group is larger than six, the leader will either need to take more time or breakout for smaller discussions.
Two questions, although simple, have the potential to mess up your role as a leader. Some messy stuff is going to be put on the table. It’s not just about teaching anymore, it’s about counseling, coaching, or praying until life-change happens. Don’t be scared though, you’ll find that when God places a need in a group, he also places someone to meet that need. Keep facilitating; keep networking.
If the two questions have done their job, there will be one key measurement of our success – stories. It’s tough to push stats and figures on spiritual formation, but stories are one sure way of knowing whether you are on track. Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, “You wouldn’t believe how far she’s come,” or “He use to… but now he’s turned that all around and is…”? I’m not sure if it comes down to the number of stories or the depth of each story, but of one thing you can be sure – when life-change is happening, you’ll have stories to tell.
Two questions, one measurement. I believe this is the simplest thing a church family could do to increase disciple making amongst themselves.