Category Archives: Go

Green Light means “Going” or “Go”?

greenlightIn my last post I made mention that ‘Go’ kicks off the Great Commission and that there are some disagreements about the translation of this word.

Some people suggest that the best translation is “as you go” while others believe that “go” should be treated as strongly as ‘make disciples’. Which is it?

I think both are right. Granted, my Greek is not nearly good enough to justify my answer but let me give some examples to show why I believe it’s both and finish with what I think it means for disciples of Jesus Christ. two examples, Jesus and Peter:

Jesus, in Mark 5, crossed the sea, brought healing to a man with an unclean spirit, sent him to go and proclaim what God had done for him, got in the boat, and returned to the other side. Jesus went out of his way to meet this guy. Jesus did ‘Go’.

Jesus, in John 4 is walking through Samaria, sits down at a well, meets a woman, shares about the kingdom, she runs to her village and brings them to Jesus and many believe in him. Jesus did ‘as you go’.

Peter, in Acts 10, has a dream about a man called Cornelius, travels to Caesarea, shares the gospel with Cornelius (along with his friends and family) and they all come to faith. Peter did ‘Go’.

Peter, 7 chapters earlier in Acts 3, is walking to the temple to pray, meets a lame man at Beautiful Gate, heals him, which leads to a lot of praise to God which attracts a crowd so Peter breaks out with a mini-gospel message. Peter did ‘as you go’.

Jesus and Peter did both. They intentionally went out of their way to share the gospel (‘Go’) and they shared the gospel with those they came across (‘As you go’). They did both because it could mean both. With an attitude that says, “People need to hear the Good News”, the gospel is intentionally shared deliberately through planning and circumstance.

The problem with translations is that the translator needs to make a decision which way they will translate a passage, a sentence or a word. The vast majority of translations use the more forceful ‘Go’. That’s a great translation but it does lose something which ‘as you go’ keeps. If ‘Go’ is too forceful then it’s seen as something separate from ‘make disciples’. When ‘make disciples’ is kept at full force then ‘go/as you go’ becomes how we do it. If we overemphasis ‘go’ we end up sharing the gospel, getting a ‘yes’ response and then doing nothing else. Churches then end up with lots of converts but no disciples. People holding tickets to heaven but no life-transformation here on Earth.

When we emphasis ‘as you go’ we move away from the need to get out of our comfort zones, to cross seas, to travel to distant lands or even to enter into our communities and look for those God has already prepared to hear the gospel. ‘As you go’ can become an excuse to sit in church each week and play safe because ‘God didn’t bring anyone across my path this week.” Churches then end up with lots of well fed Christians that are fat on the Word but poor on the application. They know the truth but the truth fails to set them free. Truly knowing is applied knowledge. For that, we need to ‘go’.

We need both ‘go’ and ‘as you go’. When we embrace both views we develop outward attitude that says, “I’m intentionally sharing my faith whenever, wherever.” We pray for the circumstances to share and we plan to create circumstances to share. We pray for opportunities we pray for open communities. We embrace both views and build that into making disciples. We teach everyone to share. We expect everyone to share.

So what could this look like in your setting?

Let me suggest a simple idea that starts with ‘as you go’ and moves toward ‘go’.

In your small group (please tell me you belong to a group where you discuss your spiritual journeys) always finish with a prayer like this: “Father, throughout this week, how many times would you like me to share the Good News?” Listen to what he says and share the answer with your group. During the week look for opportunities to share the Good News that number of times. Seek to be obedient to what God is calling you to do. ‘As you go’ share.

If you find that you consistently share that number of times each week then praise God for your faithfulness and his faithfulness for bringing those people across your path. Keep up the good work. As they respond positively disciple them (not forgetting to help them to ‘as you go/go’ too). I don’t think anyone who believes in ‘Go’ will say anything negative about what you are doing. I am sure that they will say you are fulfilling the Great Commission.

However, if you find that you do not find people to share with then discuss this with your group. Perhaps you have fear of sharing the gospel and are not seeing opportunities. Grow in that area. Have the group help you to see with whom you could share. Maybe start with those whom you know. Draw an Oikos map of all those you know and look at how you could share with them. Seek to grow beyond your fears and live out the Great Commission.

Perhaps you are trying and still nothing is happening. In that case you may need to try ‘Go’ instead. In seeking out to ‘Go’ you could organise a PUSH into an area in your neighbourhood or into another town or suburb. Recruit at least one other person to go with you. If you aren’t ready to take the lead then join someone else who is doing it and partner with them.

When we start sharing then we will make sharing a core component of making disciples and then those we are training will start sharing too. Imagine your church where everyone is sharing the Gospel each week. Imagine yourself out sharing each week? Does that thought scare you or excite you?

Let me know how you get along. Do you find yourself consistently sharing the Gospel or is this an area for growth? Do you prefer to share ‘as you go’ or do you like the idea of ‘go’? If you don’t have someone to help you grow in this give me a yell and I’ll be happy to help. I’m not too good at this myself so we could help each other to grow.

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The journey begins with a single step

a-single-stepIt’s interesting that when Jesus gave us the Great Commission he began with ‘Go’. He didn’t have to. He could have started with the main thing – disciple-making. Or, he could have started with ‘Baptising’ or ‘Training’. He didn’t. Instead, he started with the most difficult and the most challenging part to disciple-making, the first step. ‘Go’

I acknowledge up front that there is disagreement among some as to whether Jesus meant, “While you are going [about your daily life] make disciples” vs “Go [intentionally and deliberately out of your way] to make disciples”.  I will deal with this in the next post but for now trust me when I say that the difference doesn’t matter. Jesus began with ‘Go/Going’. Jesus chose to tell us the most difficult step is to ‘Go/Going’.

We know that this is the most difficult step because it’s THE thing Jesus told the 12 Apostles, and then again the 72, to pray for just before he sent them out to preach the good news. Notice in the prayer what Jesus doesn’t say and what he does say. He doesn’t pray for more money. He doesn’t pray for buildings. He doesn’t even pray for more labourers. He prays that God would sent out labourers into the harvest.

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2, ESV)

There is enough money to ‘Go’. There are enough buildings to ‘Go’. There are even enough ‘Labourers’ to ‘Go’. But they don’t. The labourers are not going. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to. I don’t think it’s because they are apathetic. I do believe that it’s spiritual warfare. If our enemy can stop us before we get out of the front door, for whatever reason, the battle is already lost.

Thom Rainer lists “Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today“. In my context I find 1, 2 and 6 to be the most prolific of reasons. There is no priority of evangelism. Laypersons believe that that’s what the staff are paid to do (and who taught them that – the staff!) and that most church ministries are not intentionally evangelistic. The other 12 are worth reading too. The bottom line, churches are not making disciples because they are not ‘Going’.

For a long time I separated out evangelism from making disciples. In my mind, evangelism toward a person is what we do before they become a Christian and discipleship is what we do with them after they become a Christian. My passion is making-disciples. Evangelism is probably one of my weakest gifts. I was happy to focus on discipleship and leave evangelism for those who are good at it. But God never let me off the hook. What God has shown me through the years is that evangelism is not separate from making-disciples but rather it’s the first step.

Years ago I read “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV) Grrrr. I realised that even though I wasn’t a gifted evangelist I could still do the work of evangelist. And so I tried. And I failed. My heart wasn’t in it. I know that we are supposed to have a passion for the lost but it wasn’t there. I loved to see people grow in Christ. My passion was discipleship. And I tried and I fell short.

It took me a long time to realise that ‘Go’, evangelism, is a part of making disciples. Not just a precursor, but a central component of it. To take out evangelism is to rip out the heart of making disciples. Jesus made it the first word. Evangelism is not separate from making disciples – it’s the first step.

When we make discipleship and evangelism two subjects we lose the heart and soul of making disciples. We don’t weave evangelism into every step of the discipleship process. We take the most difficult part of making disciples and we side-line it.

When Jesus brought healing to the demoniac in Mark 5 Jesus tell him to ‘Go’. Jesus didn’t send him away on a mission trip. Jesus sent him away to begin his discipleship journey. Jesus gave him a path of progress (discipleship) that lies at the very heart of following Jesus, that lies at the very heart of living in the Kingdom of God. If we are going to see people transformed into the likeness of Jesus we need to reintroduce ‘Go’ as a crucial component of making disciples.

Application

I see three applications.

Firstly, every disciple who is seeking to fulfil the Great Commission needs to be a part of the ‘Go’. If you are in leadership it’s important to train everybody in church how to do this. You may not know how to do this yet but I will talk on this later and show just how easy it is for people to do this. It’s not nearly as difficult as we make it out to be. The hardest part is ‘going’. ‘Going’ is hard; Sharing is easy.

Secondly, when someone does put their faith in Jesus the first thing we need to do is to help them ‘Go’. Help them see who they can share with. Teach them to share the gospel. Send them out. They may have nothing more than their testimony and a simple gospel presentation. That’s all the demoniac had. That’s all the Samaritan woman had. Help them to fulfil Great Commission and get them out there.

Lastly, and this really should be the first step but I left the hardest part till last, you need to personally get out there and share. You need to ‘Go’. In the upcoming post I will share a simple way to do this.

For now, ask God to send out more labourers and listen for whom he asking to go. You might just hear your name.

 

 

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Transformation with this simple change

Last post I posted a “Who am I?” Did you work it out? Scroll down for the answer.

new-habit

The answer is: Your Habits. Our habits form the essence of who we are. From deep within us our beliefs shape our thoughts which shape our actions which shape our habits which shape our lives. With repeated action the habit of doing becomes stronger and stronger and the thoughts become more and more automatic until one day we wake up and find that we are just doing it, without thought, without conscious decision, without really knowing our underlying belief system.Watch movie online Get Out (2017)

I’m not suggesting this process is a bad one nor is it a good one. It just is. If the belief system is good then the habits will bear positive fruit and if the underlying belief system is evil then the corresponding habits will produce pain. The process itself is neutral. It doesn’t care whether we begin with a positive belief or an evil one.

Many of your habits were not chosen by yourself. Your parents, your school, your friends, your culture all feed into your belief system and your habits were born. For some, taking time everyday to thank God for his goodness was a part of daily family life. For others, no such habit ever existed. If you are still a child then many of your daily routines will be determined by others but there are things you do have control over and I would encourage you to develop habits now. If you are an adult then you have the responsibility to address those habits you don’t like and to develop the habits you do like and want in your life.

Some habits will be so ingrained into your life and so socially acceptable that it will take a very long time to undue them at the core of your being. In the same way that developing new habits may take a long time. The key to developing a habit is to forget the destination and just focus on the next step. If the habit takes 5 years then it will take 5 years. The benefits will be experienced along the way anyway so you might as well get started. Having a fully formed habit just makes the doing of it easier, more automatic. The 5 years are going to come regardless of what you do so you might as well get started and at the end of the time you will have your habit. Of course, many habits can be achieved much sooner than that.

There will be two kinds of habits you will want to work with. The first are those you want to get rid of and the second are those you want to develop. It’s often easier to start with those you want to develop as they have a way of pushing out those that you want to discard. Those habits which you want to get rid of are easy to recognise – they are the ones you don’t want others to know about.

In your journey to becoming more like Jesus what are the 3-4 things that would help you the most? What spiritual disciplines would you like to be a part of your daily life? Over a long time what impact would that spiritual discipline bring to your life?

Here are two ideas in how building habits can make a difference in your life. The first example is memorizing the Bible. If you memorized 1 verse per week then over the span of 10 years you would know over 500 verses. In memorizing you also meditate and for me personally, that makes a huge difference in my life. I know that for many people (myself included) that memorization is tough. Learning 1 verse per week might be unrealistic. From my experience, some verses were easy to memorize (John 11:35) while others too me months and months and months (James 3:1-3). In order to build the habit I don’t set a requirement on the number of verses I MUST learn each week. Instead, my habit is to look at my Bible Memory App on my phone.

Did you notice the habit? It isn’t hours of memorization. It isn’t learning a set number or reviewing a set number. It isn’t even spending 5 minutes per day (I was wrong in suggesting 15 minutes in this post). It’s opening the App on my phone. The reason I do this is for 2 reasons. Firstly, I want the habit of reviewing. If I review each day then I will make progress. If I lock the habit into a number of verses per day or for a set amount of time I risk not doing it especially if I am short on for time or mentally exhausted. The habit can be done very, very easily. Remember, the power of the habit comes in the repetition over time. The small increments all add. The second reason is that mentally it is easier to continue to do something which I am successfully doing. The smallness of the habit makes it too easy to do. I can be in bed about to sleep after a HUGE day and still say, “Oh, quick, open the app, look, yep, done, sleep”. I can do it in less than 60 seconds. Every time I do that I carve out a small chunk in brain pathways which says I am the kind of person who memorizes Scripture. Which is, by the way, the ultimate goal of the habit – to define you.

Let’s take another habit – being quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. I think if I get the first two right then I will get the third one right too. Needless to say, I am more of the quick to speak slow to listen kind of guys. The goal habit is to listen first and then speak. So the starting place for this habit, is to listen to one conversation per day where I clarify what they said before I say anything I want to say. I only need to do this once to be successful. I want to build daily success to become week and then monthly success. I want my brain to say, “This is what I do.” I want to establish the habit and let the process build the depth.

By having small daily goals the pathway in my brain will easily be laid and the habit will be formed. As the habit takes over the results will come more easily. I could have bigger goals – “In every conversation I will listen first” – but I know I will fail and that failure will lead to discouragement and that discouragement will lead to me quitting. So I make it easy to succeed. I start small and build the habit. Of course, if I choose to listen better in every conversation then that’s a bonus but as far as my brain is concerned, it’s not necessary. Just like doing a 30 minute review of all my verses would be good but the habit of doing something daily is more important.

The key to building habits is resting in the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Jesus has already made you acceptable to the Father. Rest in that. Developing godly habits will make you more like Jesus and enable you to experience more of God’s goodness. Make the effort but don’t let your success (or failure) determine your relationship with God; it doesn’t, Jesus does.

 

Leave a comment and let me know which habits you are trying and don’t forget to subscribe so that you will get these straight to your inbox.

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A Reproducing Group – Week 4

One of the stated goals of this discipleship group blog series is to reproduce. While the group process will equip the group participants to facilitate their own small group a few more things are required to get to reproduction. The first thing is a list of people whom they can invite to join their group. How do we do that? You ask them to map all the people they know: family, friends, neighbours, co-workers/student, and common interest people they know. If this sounds like the exercise you did in week 1 it’s because it is. Teach them how to do week 1. At the end of it they will have their own map of the people they can begin praying for an to invite to a group. If they have developed their facilitation skills to the point of leading a group then it’s time to have them practice how to invite and then releasing them to start. But, and this is a big but, don’t abandon them. I will talk more on this in week 6. But this week we need to address a small problem.

There’s one small problem with this model of reproduction and I hope you have noticed it and are wanting an answer. If all we do is start and reproduce discipleship groups with Christians when and how do we grow the Kingdom of God? While the Great Commission focuses on making disciples we see in Acts and the historical record of the Apostles that sharing of our faith with those far from God is what Jesus meant when he said ‘Go’. Some people are very gifted at this. In fact, about 1 in 10 people have some sort of evangelism gift. God bless them and their ministry. I love watching gifted evangelists. They naturally flow from whatever to the gospel story. I wish I could express the message of life like they do but I can’t. So the rest of this post is about how a non-evangelist can seek to bring life to others.

I use three stories. People like stories. Youtube and Facebook and TV all tell us that people love stories, even the 140 character ones on Twitter. There are three stories that need to be told. The first is their story. The second is your story and the last one is God’s story.

Their Story

Sadly, despite learning to sit and hear a sermon every week most Christians don’t listen very well and this first story is about listening. You will want to listen to the story of the person you are wanting to share with. I want you to genuinely listen to them. In fact, as an exercise, I would encourage you to have 5 conversations where you just listen to them without any other agenda. Just listen to them.

There are 5 questions/statements you will want to ask. They are a slight modification of William Fay’s taken from his book, “Share Jesus without Fear“. The Kindle version will cost you about US$3. It’s a great book and helped me learn how to start conversations. Most books on evangelism focus on why and how to share our faith but this one includes how to find out if the person wants to hear the gospel. If they do then proceed and if they don’t then don’t. Personally, I love his whole approach on how to safely share with others. I highly recommend you get a copy.

There is one question/statement which proceeds these five depending on whether you know the person well or not. If you know them well and have never truly listened to their story then say, “I’ve never taken the time to hear about what matters in your life. I would really like to know. Tell me …” If you don’t them well then say, “Tell me about yourself.” This will lead naturally into the first request below. Here are the 5 questions/requests:

  1. Tell me about your spiritual beliefs
  2. To you, who is Jesus?
  3. Do you think there is a heaven or hell?
  4. If you died tonight, where would you go and why?
  5. If the truth was something different, would you want to know?

These are the broad questions. Please, please, please, if they have spiritual beliefs then explore them. What do they believe and what does that mean for them? Don’t debate them. Don’t tell them they are wrong. Listen to them. Probe out of interest not to score points. People are happy to talk about themselves so let them. Be interested in what they believe for what they are believe is the essence of who they are – get to know them deeply and well.

The way you ask the second question is really important. You are not asking, “Who is Jesus?” or “What do you know about Jesus?” These questions are about facts and will lead to arguments. Don’t go there. And worse than that, they don’t tell you what the other person feels and thinks about Jesus as he is to them. Look again at question 2 – they can’t be wrong. That makes it a good question to answer since they can’t get it wrong. And if you can’t be wrong then you are more likely to honestly reply. They could say that Jesus was a hippie from the 70’s sent back in time. I don’t think that’s true but I didn’t ask them for the truth; I asked them who Jesus was to them. It’s the ‘to them’ that makes it a safe question for them to answer.

Throughout this conversation in what they believe do not, DO NOT, start a debate. Listen to them. This is crucial for three reasons. Firstly, it’s polite. Secondly, it’s wise. It’s said that when an amateur speaker is asked to come and present a message they will ask what to speak on while the professional asks to whom they will be speaking. Knowing them, hearing them, listening to their story and their beliefs is more important at this stage than what you are going to say. Yes, what you have to say is important, but first know your audience. There are four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Four different audiences. Four different stories. Know your audience first. The last reason is that we are given two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that proportion. Spend time listening to people and you will find they will give you an opportunity to speak. We aren’t listening to them to manipulate them into listening to us, we are listening to their beliefs because their beliefs are the core of who they are and as precious human beings whom God loves they deserve for us to listen to their deepest selves.

Now, notice the last question. Question 5. What do you think you do if they say ‘No’? You do nothing. If they don’t want to know then go no further in the discussion. If, however, they say yes then ask one more question; “Can I share something with you?” If they say ‘No’, stop. If they say ‘Yes’, continue. Respect their ‘No’. If they say ‘No’ then it’s no. Jesus let people walk away and so should we.

Your Story

If they have said yes then it’s time to tell your story.While you could tell your whole story it’s best to keep it short as a lead in to God’s story. Your story is the answer to the question, “What difference has Jesus made to your life?” There could be many, many answers to this question. You have many, many stories to tell. Choose one of those answers and tell them that one story. It shouldn’t take more than 1-2 minutes. The more answers you have the easier it will be to identify with their story as a bridge to God’s story. Practice with the people in your group. Take turns telling each other how Jesus impacts your life. Practice listening to each other.

God’s Story

Lastly, you will want to tell God’s story and invite them to place their trust in Jesus. As I stated above, I love the way William Fay does it. His method uses questions and self-discovery to share the gospel. His approach ensures they understand the gospel story before asking for a commitment. I love this approach. There are lots of other great approaches out there. The Roman Road, the Hand Gospel (God, Man, God, No, Yes), Do vs Done, The Bridge, Creation to Christ, Four Spiritual Laws, Evangecube. I suggest you find one and use that as a model for your group. Get them sharing with that one method and perhaps introduce them to another one if you need to. By keeping to one model you make reproduction easier. Everyone understands the model approach and can help each other get better at it. Which approach is best? The one you are using. Due to the length of this post I won’t elaborate any more on the various methods. Find one that works for your cultural context and teach it to your group.

For Aussies

I need to mention this for my Australian readers. In Australia there are two taboo topics – Politics and Religion. In most parts of the world these are daily topics and asking someone about their spiritual belief is fine and normal. But not in Oz. Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it is White Australians that have the biggest problem with talking about religion. If you are talking to an immigrant, an Afghan Aussie, or a Greek Aussie, or an India Aussie, then it’s actually ok to talk about spiritual matters. They come from lands where these topics aren’t taboo. The bad news is that White Aussies don’t like to talk about religion. So don’t. Back to the good news. Spiritual beliefs are different from religion. Everyone has some kind of spiritual belief – even atheists. Keep it to their beliefs without asking them to defend themselves and you will be fine.

That’s it. Teach them how to facilitate a group and teach them to share their faith. Many will not lead a group even though they know how. Train them anyway. Many will not share their faith even though they know how. Train them anyway. What you don’t know is who has the gift to do it and those who don’t. People will surprise you. Train everyone. Equip, Empower and Encourage everyone. Some won’t but some will. Years ago George Barna wrote a book called “Evangelism that works”. His conclusion was that those who do evangelism see people come to new life in Jesus and those who don’t do evangelism don’t see people come to new life. You may not have a gift of evangelism but by training those in your group to disciple others who disciple others evangelists will be found and they will reap a large harvest. But if they are never trained, never shown how to make a map, never empowered and released then they will sit in church never knowing the joy of giving their gift away. Train for reproduction and you will see results.

Let me know how you are going with your discipleship groups. What’s working? What needs more important? Where are you getting stuck? What are some of the success stories?

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A Reproducing Group – Week 2

group processThis is going to be a fairly long post as I am going to describe how to facilitate the group process. It’s worth the read. I have tried to be thorough yet brief. If something isn’t clear or you have any doubts leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

One of the goals of this small group process is to reproduce. It’s aimed at being simple but not simplistic. While you could run your small group with this format and process indefinitely I would hope that you would develop and grow beyond this simple process. The simplicity of this process is so that it can easily be reproduced. It’s a starting point so that even a new believer could start a group with their friends with little or no Bible knowledge.

The process is broken up into 3 parts. Each part is to receive one third of your time. If you have 60 minutes then each part gets 20 minutes. If you have 90 minutes then each part gets 30 minutes. These parts are called: Gather, Grow, Go.

The focus of the Gather part is to bring the group together with Jesus, to share what has happened throughout the week, and to care for one another. The second part, Grow, is a study in the Scriptures. The final part, Go, focuses on how the group members will apply what they are learning in the group. It is in this part that members will practice what they are learning including how to run their own group. This final part is crucial to reproduction and should not be skipped. Let’s break each part down further.

gather titleGather

There are five key elements to this part. The first is to worship God. This can be done through music, through reflection of a psalm, to answering the question, “What are you thankful to God for this week?” The goal is to centre the group on God. The second element is to move from the vertical to the horizontal and show care for one another. Take time to listen to the high’s and low’s of the member’s week and pray for one another. The third element is to ask each other about what they said they would do the previous week. This is to be a time of loving accountability. Later in the group each person will share how they intended to apply the Word to their life – it’s important to ask them how they went with implementing. There are many reasons why people fail to apply Scripture such as time, fear, incompetence. If you don’t ask them what happened you will not be able to stand with gatherthem and find a way to overcome their barriers to obedience. The fourth element is a time of casting vision for the discipleship of other believers and sharing their faith with those far from God. In this time take out your maps and pray over them, pray for each other’s maps, pray that everyone on the map would have a chance to grow in God’s grace. The final element is reviewing what you have been doing and studying together as you move into the second part, Grow.

So, the gather part may look like this:
1. What’s something you are thankful to God for this week?”
2. What are some of the high’s and low’s you have experienced since the last group?
How can we pray for you tonight?
3. Last week you were going to try and do [insert their action], how did that go?
(If it went well, praise God. If it didn’t go well, ask, “How can we help you do it this week?”)
4. Let’s take out maps and pray for them. (Obviously the first week only you have your map but they will develop theirs in the coming weeks).
5. Let’s review what we have looked at so far in our group…

grow titleGrow

One of the biggest fears people have of running a small group is that they don’t know the Bible well enough to teach it. In this format you won’t be “teaching” the Bible. Instead, you will be facilitating a discussion about it. While people will learn and be taught the emphasis is not on you as a teacher but as a facilitator. Instead of being the Bible expert you will ask questions and help them to see what the Scriptures say. This method has some problems. People could miss the point of the passage and come up with some weird thoughts and ideas. The passage could be very difficult and beyond what the group is able to grasp. Despite the potential problems most Christians don’t struggle to grasp the basic meaning of the Bible but rather they struggle with how to make it work in their life.

growThere will be six questions that you will ask each week. For a few weeks you will want to restrict yourself to just these questions. The reason for this is to help in reproduction. If the Bible study component is based on your Bible knowledge then you need to teach them what you know in order for them to reproduce. If you ask deep, creative questions each week then you will need to teach them how to generate deep, creative questions. If you ask the same six questions each week then you need to teach them the six questions. This restriction makes reproduction easier. I’m not saying you must remain with just these questions. These questions are for the starting of groups in helping them to get to reproduction – that’s all.

These are the six questions:
1. What does the passage say? (If they say something that isn’t in the passage ask, “Where does it say that?”) It’s helpful to have the group read the passage out loud, in different translations if they are present, and then to retell the passage in their own words. The purpose of this question is not to discuss what the passage means only what it says.
2. What do you like about this passage? (Everybody can answer this question because they can’t be wrong.)
3. What do you dislike about this passage? (Again, there can be no wrong answer. Question 2 and 3 get people talking.)
4. What do we learn about God (Father, Son and Spirit) from this passage?
5. What do we learn about people and ourselves from this passage? (If there are multiple groups of people in the passage you can ask, for example from Mark 5, “What do we learn about people from the demoniac? From the Apostles? From the town folk?”)
6. What can you apply from this passage? (We don’t just want to be hearers of the Word we want to be doers.)

In the final question help them to be as specific as possible. eg from Mark 5 they might say, “I will share my faith with my friends.” You could ask, “Which friends?” The more specific someone can be in their application the more likely they are to do it.

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If you have ever been involved in a small group you are probably familiar with the first two parts. This part is crucial to helping people actually apply the Scriptures to their life and get to starting their own group. This part is all about practising. Discipleship is about training. You may know every detail about how to run a marathon but unless you have trained for it you are unlikely to be able to do it. So to with the Christian life. Studying how to love our enemies is easy. Stating what I seek to do during the week is easy. Living it out – now that’s the hard part. Notice that in the Great Commission that Jesus doesn’t ask us to teach everything he taught but rather, he asks us to teach them to obey everything he taught. People need to learn obedience. Sometimes obedience comes easily but often it doesn’t. We need to train for obedience through discipleship. This time doesn’t have to be serious. Try to make it playful in the sense that it is training. It’s ok to fail in training. In fact, that’s what training is for. It’s in training that you want to try new things and fail. Keep this section focused on having a go and not on getting it right. With consistent training positive results will come – trust the process.

goThere are three elements to learning obedience in this final part. The first element is to practice what they have just said they will do during the week. Using Mark 5 as our example, if they said they will share the gospel with a friend have them practice with another group member. It is here that people discover the cliche, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.” Many people will discover that they don’t know how they are actually going to do what they said they would. This is the time to show them how. If you don’t know then as a group you will seek the answer and grow together. The second element is to practice the first two parts. While you may not have time every week to practice all the elements of the first two parts you can choose one element and have the group practice it. For example, if in the worship time you begin with a song then have the group members practice introducing the song to the group and how to start singing it. This may sound simple but if you have never introduced a song before and led off as the first singer it’s a very difficult task. Asking the six questions needs to be taught and practised. At the end of this practice time look for someone who could lead that element the following week. Each week involve more the group members and you will slowly train them how to facilitate the group. It’s this practice time where they get to train that will lead them to being able to do during the group time. Lastly, you will want to pray for each other that you would have God’s grace to live in obedience to his will.

That’s it. Here is a simple small group process that isn’t based on how much you know and more on facilitating a process of discovery. It’s a process that helps people to practice in a safe environment where they can build their confidence through developing their competence. Give it a go. You will be amazed at the insights people will have as you study Scripture. Their applications will astound you – I promise. Often in the groups where we study Mark 5 people will identify with the demoniac and come up with the application of sharing of their faith. In one group a lady identified with Jesus and “We should go looking for those who are harassed by demons and pray for them to be set free.”

Oh, one last point – which passages do you study? There are no limitations on what you can look at but here is a list of passages I like to use for a starter group whether they are hard-core Christians or far from God.

  1. The Weeping Woman Luke 7:36-50
  2. Tax Collector Luke 18:9-17
  3. A hole in the roof Luke 15:17-26
  4. God loves the world John 3:16-21
  5. A Hard Road Mat 16:21-17:9
  6. Trial and Crucifixion Mark 15-16:8
  7. Two Sons Luke 15:11-32

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A Reproducing Group – Week 1

There are two ways you can approach the next few weeks. The first is to wait until I have finished blogging about starting and reproducing a discipleship group and then decide if you want to continue, or, you can implement each week trusting me that over the next few weeks you will establish a group that will be a blessing to others and be geared for birthing new groups. Both approaches will work. The second, I think, will be more fun.

Let’s deal with your fears first. What are the fears you have in running a group? Make a list. Pray through them. What needs to happen for you start the group despite the fears? While I expect these fears will be dealt with in the coming weeks leave a comment if you want me to address them now. Fears are feelings that need to be acknowledged but we can act according to them or against them. Don’t let the fear of starting a group stop you. Let’s address the fears together. (This blog entry will be way too long to address them here – if you need address them before starting a group then let’s deal with them in the comments below or send me an email directly).

The first step in the process is inviting people. There are five key relationships from which you can invite. Make a list of all the people you know in these five key relationships. It doesn’t matter whether you think or even know they aren’t interested, just make the list.
The key relationships are:

  1. Family (immediate, distant)
  2. Friends
  3. Neighbours
  4. Co-workers, co-students
  5. Common interests (church, clubs, hobbies, sports, those you know by sight but don’t really know)

The list will be about 100-200 people.

Now, map them out according to their relationships and add new names that are second, third or fourth generation. Put a cross next to all the ones who are close to God. This map represents all those whom you can ask to join your group. Don’t forget to include all those who attend your church whom you may know only by sight and name. Those who are new to your church are looking for connections so don’t forget to add them. Here is the start of what the map may look like:

oikos

Sit with the map before God and ask him to show you whom to invite and start inviting.

You are asking them to join:

  • a reproducing group
  • for 6-9 months
  • to live out the Great Commission
  • at (insert where you will meet)
  • from (insert starting time) till (insert ending time – about 90-120 minutes after the starting time)

You may not know where or when you will meet yet. I suggest for you to meet in the home of someone who says ‘Yes” as it makes it easier to reproduce when it’s not in your home. There will be a lot of “No’s”. There are lots of reasons why people will not be able to make it. However, sit with God, ask him to show you the first 20 people to invite and start inviting.

One of the things that hold us back from inviting people is the fear of rejection. We associate their ‘No thanks’ to a rejection of us. They aren’t saying ‘No’ to you personally. You are making them an offer which they may not be in a position to accept right now. There are many reasons why they will say no. Keep asking until you have enough “Yes’s” to start (between 3 and 12).

That’s the first week done. Make a map of all the people you know. Start inviting.

Next week we will look at how to run the group. Don’t worry if you have never run a group before. Don’t worry about not knowing enough about Scripture. I will go through those details next week. For now, know that you can run a group, you will be able to develop leaders, and you can get to reproduction.

Let me know how you get on in the comments box below. If you have questions or doubts speak them out so that we can work through them together. If you want to receive this directly to your inbox subscribe to the newsletter. Blessings

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