Thursday, February 16, 2012

Discipling Connecting Groups for Missional Community

This is part 4 in a series called "Is Both/And Possible? (Click here for the previous entries.)

We have tons of excellent options for setting up connecting small group experiences. (See previous post.) In addition, the options for excellent curriculum choices almost endless. But let's not assume that grouping people and getting them to talk about the Bible will move them toward mission. Without a way to create a sense of urgency for more, people will grow satisfied with a connecting group experience. Who can blame them? In many cases such groups have provided the richest and safest places they have ever known. What more could there be?

We need to help people hunger for more. If they never develop any sense of urgency they will remain the same, forever cycling through group after group, and some church after church.

This is where we need to think in terms of discipleship that leads to missional living. By this I don't mean a slew of classes. Instead I mean some that resembles John Wesley's very small groups that he called 'bands'. These were groups of three or four where people talked intimately about life and their journey with Christ. Today, Neil Cole uses a similar strategy in what he calls Life Transformation Groups. Greg Ogden promotes groups of four who work through his book Discipleship Essentials. These experiences can prepare the lives of those in connecting groups for missional community.

The power of these groups, as opposed to some kind of discipleship class, is found in the fact that the participants must take ownership of their own discipleship and growth in Christ. It begins to break the pattern of being spoon-fed by a spiritual specialist, a DVD curriculum or by an appointed and trained volunteer.

This is one way to challenge people and prepare them for participation in a missional community. There are additional ways. Have you seen any? Click here for the next post.

1 comment:

Andrew Mason said...

I have not seen many examples of this from a the context of a church's public discipleship process. I have seen seasonal groups of leaders form for growth and ministry prep that fulfill a similar expression. You mentioned Neil Cole's and Greg Ogden's models. Are those promoted church wide in addition to "Connecting-type small groups?"