Discipleship

Help – I don’t know how to lead a small group!

I have attended many small groups, some fun, some serious and one really awkward one. I’ve felt embarrassed at my lack of Bible knowledge and sat in groups with all single people that felt like a dating game. It wasn’t until I was approached (ambushed) recently with the daunting question, ‘Will you lead our small group?’ that I really even thought – how do you run a small group?

I panicked and immediately responded with:  ‘Are you sure you meant to ask me?’

One of the reasons I panicked is because I didn’t even know where to start. To help out other people who might be in the same boat, I’ve put together a list of things gleaned from wise people in my church:

1. Pray – this group isn’t about making you look good, or even about making it the best time ever for those attending it, it’s about seeking God and growing closer to Him. So, ask Him what He wants for the group.

2. Get organised – Find a place to meet and make sure everyone in your group knows where and when you’re meeting together. Find a way that works for you all to stay in touch – this could be by email, Facebook, WhatsApp or anything else.

3. Don’t over-complicate hosting – Real hospitality is about being there for people, having the time for them, listening and actually taking in what they are saying and remembering it. It’s not about having a shiny clean house with the perfect sofas (comfortable enough to fit everyone on, but not soft enough that people fall asleep).

4. Don’t panic – You aren’t now responsible for the spiritual growth and welfare of everyone who meets in your living room. You are there to facilitate discussion – pray for others and provide some kind of direction on what to study, but you don’t have to have all the answers!

5. Enjoy it – Take a break from studying the Bible, praying and trying to learn together every once in a while to go have fun and build real, genuine friendships together.

There’s no such thing as a perfect small group, but there’s the opportunity to be real with one another and grow together. Don’t pressure yourself into trying to be the best small group leader ever; just trust that God has you in this place for a reason and ask Him to guide you.

For more help running your small group, look out for Andy Peck’s new book Small Group Essentials, out in January 2017.

 

About Emily Owen

Emily dreams of travelling the world and writing about the great things she sees God doing along the way. Whilst waiting for dreams to come true she happily works for CWR, plays a lot of netball and is trying to learn Spanish.

 

What are small groups?

Small groups can represent different things to different people. Each group, and each church, will do things in slightly (or very) different ways, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ cookie-cutter approach. What works well for one group might not work for another. What works well at this point in time might not even be what God wants to be doing with that same group in the future.

Some groups have a structured plan for their meetings, others will be a bit more open to improvisation. Some groups will always have the same leader, others take turns to lead. Some groups are made up of an eclectic mix of people, others will have a lot in common with each other.

So to define what a small group actually is can be a pretty tricky task. But there are some truths, some cornerstones of group life, which will most likely ring true for the vast majority of Christian small groups.

So, what are they?

Small groups are ordinary, broken people trying to figure out life together with Jesus at the centre. They are a group of people who want to find out more about God and His love for the Church and the world. To not only know about God, but really get to know Him personally. A group of people who want to pray, to learn, to worship, to grow, to have fun, to be there for each other, to make mistakes and get back up again. A group who admit they can’t do it alone, but with God’s help and with others around them, they can do far more than they ever imagined. They’re one part among many making up God’s global Church, and they are a gift God has given us to help bring people to Him.

They are you and me and some people we know who want to live the kind of life God intends for us, building each other up and walking with Jesus one step at a time.

Small groups are part of God’s masterplan for saving the lost, bringing light to the darkness and hope to the hopeless. Why? Because you are part of God’s masterplan for saving the lost, bringing light to the darkness and hope to the hopeless, and so is everyone else in your group!

Small groups are not

On the other hand, there are some things that healthy, Christ-centred small groups shouldn’t be:

  • A replacement for regular church gatherings or services
  • The way to salvation in and of themselves (only Jesus can do that!)
  • An exclusive club serving only its own members
  • A way to show off how ‘good’ a Christian you are
  • A place to moan about how ‘bad’ a Christian you (or other people) are
  • A place to gossip behind people’s backs
  • The be-all and end-all of discipleship
  • The only time your Bible gets read outside of church
  • The only time you pray outside of church
  • A place to be in a Christian bubble, away from the ‘real world’
  • A qualified psychologist or counsellor (though journeying alongside each other is vital)
  • A dating or social club
  • Free babysitters every week
  • A place to switch off and let other people do all the work
  • A place to do all the work to feel like a ‘better Christian’
  • ‘Better’ or ‘worse’ than the small groups from the church down the road
  • A one-way flow of information from leader to members

And one more thing that groups definitely are not… perfect! As individuals we are still works in progress, and so are our groups. Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as smoothly as you would hope (we live in a fallen world – it happens!). Stand up, brush yourself off, and carry on journeying together, having learnt something new.

 

About Mark Baker

Mark is an Editor at CWR. He’s passionate about how small groups fit into God’s masterplan. He’s also passionate about pizza. There’s no reason pizza and small groups should be mutually exclusive – each one enhances the other! Mark still finds talking about himself in third person a bit weird…

How can Christian small groups make a difference for people living alone?

By Ron Kallmier

The small group in which my wife and I are currently sharing has a number of people who live alone. As I was reflecting on this, I checked the census data for the England and Wales, the USA and Australia. The data are conclusive. A greater percentage of people live alone than they did at the middle of the last century. The data from the recent census for people living in England and Wales in 2011 found that just under one third live alone[1]. The Washington Post in 2014 described 27% of USA households as single person dwellings[2]. In Australia in 2011, one-person households had increased to 24%[3].

For a percentage of individuals, living alone is their preferred lifestyle. It frees them from many obligations. They can do what they like, when they like, and make their social connections when it is convenient to them. On the other hand, sadly, many people are alone because of the disintegrating fabric of social life in Western countries or through life’s tragedies.

God designed people for relationships – relationship primarily with Himself, but also with one another. We do not do well if we are cut off from others for long periods of time. Having lived both in the UK and Australia, I have observed how warm and welcoming Christian small groups can integrate those who have become accustomed to living alone, whether by choice or circumstances. In my experience, the groups that have achieved a strong sense of being family have been quite diverse in membership, age range and background. We all know it takes time to trust oneself to another, let alone to a group of people. But when trust grows, and people respond to one another with genuine interest, care and support, a new type of family is born.

There are unanswered questions about the future shape of these Christian small group ‘families’, but they will need to be welcoming and flexible. Suitability of time and location will dictate when and where some groups can meet. For example, those involving working single parents, or aged people who find it difficult to leave their home, will need specific time slots in the week.

I enjoy our regular family meal nights very much. Real life issues come up naturally around the meal table, along with a lot of laughter, and when necessary, some serious prayer and support of one another. This dynamic seems to reflect what I believe is one of the core purposes of a Christian small group – building strong bonds of relationship. My interest in building small groups into faith families has been particularly stirred by Psalm 68: 5—6:

‘A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families’ (NIV).

Perhaps your small group and mine is one way that God goes about achieving this.

[1] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-and-quick-statistics-for-wards-and-output-areas-in-england-and-wales/sty-how-people-are-living-in-england-and-wales.html
[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/more-americans-living-alone-census-says/2014/09/28/67e1d02e-473a-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html
[3] http://theconversation.com/australian-census-one-in-ten-live-alone-but-that-doesnt-mean-theyre-lonely-7674

Ron Kallmier, an experienced teacher, counsellor and pastor who served as CWR’s Director of Training, turns our attention to a few of the essential leadership skills relevant to discussion in small groups.

How small groups can help people to change their thinking

In my most recent blog I stressed how important relationships in small groups can be. This time we look at the role long-term Christian small groups can play in helping people to re-align their thinking more with biblical perspectives.

Each Christian small group is made up of people from all walks of life. Each small group member has a unique history. Sadly, many members come to the group with the scars of life either deeply hidden or obviously on the surface. Small groups that enjoy rich and deep relationships among the members can help individuals to address some of these issues.

Congregation meetings, at their best, can be very good at imparting information and maybe enthusing people into action, but congregations are not the ideal context for helping people grow individually and deal with the personal history and emotional scars. I believe this can be and should be the role of Christian small groups. Let me explain.

The familiar words from the apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 stress that we all need the renewing of our minds. How can this be? How does this renewing occur?

Modern neuroscience is discovering more and more about how our brain works. One of the most relevant discoveries here is how the brain can be changed from very negative thinking to develop positive constructive patterns of thinking that actually reshape the brain itself. Christian neuroscientist Dr Carline Leaf has provided many insights into the process of positive change in our thought life. We all need this change process in some measure. Hurtful experiences, painful emotions and associated negative thought patterns are not conducive to a joyful Christian life. To a greater or lesser degree, we all have negative thought patterns and the way we operate in daily living is influenced strongly by our thought life.

So how can small groups help their members develop a more positive, biblical aligned thought life? To begin, we need to recognise that change takes time. Second, change only happens when a negative way of thinking is replaced by something positive. It will not simply go away.

The Apostle Paul describes the positive change process succinctly:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.

(Phil. 4:8, NIV)

As group members deepen their relationships with one another the group will come to understand some of the negative experiences, painful emotions and destructive thought patterns that have developed in others within the group. Helpful change will not come about just by speaking platitudes such as: God loves you and we love you too (though of course this is true). People need to see that not only is change desirable, but that is possible for them personally. They need to come to the Bible not just as a source of information but as a living, vital transforming resource that God has given His Church.

Probably, like me, you know people who have a good understanding of Scripture but the information has not taken root and has not been transforming in their lives. They do not live as though God values them and seeks their best. Some may be able to quote the correct verses but there is big gap between the reality of those truths and the working out of them in their lives.

We should take every opportunity to speak truth to each other, Scriptural truth, practical truth – not just occasionally but on many occasions and in the appropriate contexts. Engendering hope and faith is something that Christians in committed relationship can continue to do over time. This is the value of small groups, especially so if group members keep contact between group meetings. If we do keep speaking transforming truth to one another we will gradually begin to believe that not only are these facts Bible truths, but that they can be true for us personally.

In a number of small groups in which I have been involved I have been privileged to see this in operation as members have spoken truth and life to one another consistently. Some of the transformations have been so encouraging, so life-changing. ­­­

Thoughtful group members will be aware of individuals who have been deeply damaged and find it quite difficult to receive positive affirmation or hope. The context of secure Christian love, expressed sincerely and unconditionally, can open these people up to begin to hope, and then to believe, and then to accept a new way of talking to themselves and thinking about themselves. They will begin to see themselves more accurately as God sees them. They will begin to understand that past experiences do not have to define their future, nor do past failures or hurts define their intrinsic value to God.

Remember that this takes time. It won’t happen overnight. It cannot be faked or come from an unfounded enthusiasm of members. It must be real. It must spark hope and then action. Truth changes people. Christian small groups can be excellent catalysts of this change.

For reflection:

1. Are relationships in your group sufficiently developed so that members are able to speak the truth to one another in love (Ephesians 4:15)?

2. Do you see evidence of members changing, becoming more positive and more hopeful, because of their involvement in the group?

Header image credits: Neural pathways in the brain / NICHD / BY

Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it? (Part 4)

In this fourth and final instalment, taken from ‘Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it?‘, Tony Pullin continues to explore seven elements that help us develop faithful relationships within our small groups, which, in turn, provide a secure environment for discipleship. To catch up on the first three blogs click here.

6. Forgiveness

‘Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”’ (Matt. 18:21–22).

‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (Eph. 4:32).

When Jesus answered Peter’s question about forgiveness, I don’t think he meant that my brother is safe, sinning against me up to seventy-seven times, but seventy-eight and its POW! Got you! You thought I wasn’t counting! I think he was saying, ‘Peter, when it comes to forgiveness, you just keep going, the way I do – over and over and over’. I, for one, am glad that Jesus’ forgiving grace never comes to an end. When we set out to share our lives together as a community of disciples, we find friendships at various levels. Because we all make mistakes it is inevitable that forgiveness is going to be a frequent part of the equation. We won’t always measure up to expectations; sometimes we will misunderstand; sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, we will offend, we will be responsible for another’s hurt. The closer the relationships we desire to have, the more important it is that we keep our hearts open to forgiving grace – inbound and outbound! ‘Bear with each other’, said Paul, ‘and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (Col. 3:13).

Forgiveness is not only important to maintaining ongoing relationships; it is also the key to receiving healing where we have been damaged in the past. It may be someone who hurt us but who has never faced the truth or asked for forgiveness, or who may not even be alive today. It may be someone with whom I have attempted to be reconciled but the door has remained closed. On the cross, Jesus forgave those who neither knew what they were doing nor were remotely interested in forgiveness. Forgiveness is part of the process of our being set free from hurt or bitterness. The day I forgave my father changed the way I felt about him and it was part of a process of healing. When I truly forgive another I release them – they owe me nothing. But the first person to be released by my act of forgiveness is me.

7. Loyalty

‘Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people’ (Prov. 3:3–4, NRSV).

In today’s society of betrayal, serial relationships, broken marriages and broken families, the church of Jesus has a wonderful opportunity to display in high relief the values of the kingdom of God. Faithful relationships are characterised by loyalty. Instead of scuppering a friendship, an offence becomes the occasion of fresh vulnerability and renewed commitment. Gossip dies where loyalty is at the heart of a community. Illegitimate rumour runs into a brick wall and collapses; the rumour mill itself coughs, splutters and expires for lack of oxygen.

Loyalty is when my name is safe in another’s presence, whether I am present or absent. Loyalty looks after the interests of others. Loyalty chooses to believe the best and will do so through thick and thin, unless and until honourable process reveals otherwise. Promises are kept, relationships are not abandoned because they are no longer convenient. Loyalty is that aspect of love which ‘always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’ (1 Cor. 13:7). It was, perhaps, the best piece of advice in the whole of Proverbs: ‘Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart’. It belongs on page one of the disciple’s handbook.

Want to find out more?

Delving into the life-experience of Jesus and the twelve he chose to disciple personally, we discover how discipleship could look in our lives, churches and communities, and how we can implement such relationships. Packed with practical suggestions, real-life examples and exploratory questions, Making Disciples is the perfect resource for anyone committed to following Jesus, whether new to the faith or more experienced in the Christian life; or for church or group leaders. Click here to find out more.

Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it? (Part 3)

Tony Pullin continues to explore how we can build faithful relationships in our small groups, which, in turn, provide a secure environment for discipleship. This week we’re looking at ‘Encouragement’ and ‘Openness’ and how God can work so powerfully in our lives if we let him. To catch up on the first two blogs click here.

Encouragement

‘encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ (1 Thess. 5:11).

‘But encourage one another daily’ (Heb. 3:13).

So who have you encouraged today? We all need it, whether we are mature Christians who have been on the road for many years, or new Christians just starting out. When we encourage each other we reinforce each other’s strengths; for a moment we add our shoulder to someone else’s wheel and it turns a little faster. Paul tells us that encouragement is the nature of prophecy: ‘the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort’ (1 Cor. 14:3). When we encourage someone else we are in tune with the Spirit’s voice. Encouragement is the stuff of discipleship.

Openness and transparency

‘We continually ask God … so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way … giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light’ (Col. 1:9–12).

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of light and it produces a culture of openness and transparency. The wonderful thing is that because of the blood of Jesus we are forgiven and cleansed, and actually qualified to live in this kingdom! Paul sums it up: ‘now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light’ (Eph. 5:8).

There is a level of openness we need to have with all of God’s people and a deeper level with some, particularly those who are involved in our pastoral care or who may be discipling us.

‘he … showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God … the great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass’ (Rev. 21:10–11,21).

Trying to convey the purity of the gold in the prophetic picture of God’s people in the age to come, John describes it as being ‘transparent glass’. We can, if we choose, go in and out of church for years and hide away from reality, but to walk on the streets of the city that God is building is to walk on transparent glass. It is the path of the true disciple – living a life of openness. So often, insecurities within can be masked by an outward strength.

So what is the way forward if there are areas of our lives which are hidden? The challenge is to talk to those who care for us; to share the things that we are finding difficult to overcome and invite what help we may need.

As for the ‘Blind’ spots – we all have them! That is why, in my own life, there are people I trust to whom I have given the right to offer any personal observation, or ask any question at any time, which I will answer as honestly as I can. I have worked out that if others see in me unhelpful things of which I am unaware, the sooner I know, the better!

Some years ago I was present at a meeting in which, with remarkable honesty and grace, the speaker shared a remarkable life story, including moments of serious failure as well as times of great blessing. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully. During the time of personal ministry which followed, a middle-aged minister, previously unknown to me, remained sitting in his seat, the tears flowing down his face. He beckoned for me to join him and as we found a quiet place to sit, the dam broke. He was overcome with sobbing from deep inside. I laid a hand on his shoulder and waited, praying silently. When he could speak, he told me how, as a Christian teenager, he had committed a sexual act of which he was ashamed, and which had remained as a black hole under his life and ministry ever since. He had never been able to tell anyone.

We talked a little and then at his request I began to pray with him. Towards the end of my prayer he broke into the most amazing laughter. Afterwards I asked him what had been going on. He replied, ‘It was one thing you said’. I had described a picture I felt God showed me, in which God was giving him a clean sheet to write the rest of his life on. He said, ‘You couldn’t have known, but last week I invited an experienced youth leader to come to our church and look at everything we are doing with our youth, and to advise us on the best strategy to take it forward. I said to him, “You are free to recommend anything at all – I am giving you a clean sheet”.’ Wiping his eyes he added, ‘I never knew God could give me a clean sheet’.

The burden was gone. He had stepped into the light.

Writing to the Christians in Rome, Paul said, ‘let us … put on the armour of light’ (Rom. 13:12). Light as armour – it’s a striking thought. If I was on the battlefield, about to go over the top to confront the enemy’s dug-in forces, I would like something more than daylight between me and the fiery onslaught ahead. I think part of Paul’s thinking is that areas of our lives which are hidden are actually exposed to enemy fire; whereas, areas of our lives which are shared come under the protection of the work of the Spirit through the body of Christ. Someone once said, ‘Either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or the discipleship kills the secrecy’. The words speak powerfully to us today. For followers of Jesus, living in the light is the safest place on earth and the touchstone of true discipleship.

Want to find out more?

Delving into the life-experience of Jesus and the twelve he chose to disciple personally, we discover how discipleship could look in our lives, churches and communities, and how we can implement such relationships. Packed with practical suggestions, real-life examples and exploratory questions, Making Disciples is the perfect resource for anyone committed to following Jesus, whether new to the faith or more experienced in the Christian life; or for church or group leaders. Click here to find out more.

Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it? (Part 2)

Faithful relationships are foundational to developing a discipling community, especially within our small groups. In the second of this four part series taken from ‘Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it?‘, Tony Pullin begins to explore seven elements that help us develop faithful relationships with one another.

‘A number of practical strands go to make up enduring relationships, which, in turn, provide a secure environment for discipleship.

Commitment

‘They devoted themselves to … fellowship’ (Acts 2:42).

As fellow disciples in community, our primary commitment is not to a doctrinal statement, nor to a vision, however inspiring, nor to a model of church, but to one another. God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom can be summed up in two words – fusion and fission. God is all about joining together, Satan is all about splitting apart.

‘But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him’ (1 Cor. 6:17, ESV).
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Eph. 5:31, NRSV).
‘In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord’ (Eph. 2:21–22).
‘All the believers were one’ (Acts 4:32).

The early believers shared their lives together and were committed to one another on every level. When we gather as Church we don’t leave our lives at the door, as though this is a retreat from life into a different dimension. Church is where shared life, in all its aspects, finds its expression. We bring our victories and challenges, our aspirations and weaknesses, our families, jobs (or pressure to find one), our histories, our hopes – everything, into the presence of God with his people; and we worship the Lord, hear from him by his Spirit and encourage one another. Mutual love in the Spirit is the cement that holds us together. Our commitment is to one another.

George Elliott’s words express the beauty of real friendship: ‘Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort, of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words. But pour them out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.’

Acceptance

‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you’ (Rom. 15:7).

If we are going to be committed to one another as members of the body of Christ, it follows that we can only begin by accepting each other. Sometimes we have enormous differences, our backgrounds and life experience can be like chalk and cheese; but in Christ we are one family. Do you remember how Jesus accepted you when you came to him – weaknesses, mistakes, disappointments, sins and all? We were so different from him, but he just wrapped his arms around us and loved us and promised he would never leave us. Now he asks us to accept one another in the same way.

Some find it difficult to believe that such a level of acceptance could possibly include them. Many years ago I came across this simple diagram.

circle
The enemy wants us to get into wrong thinking. Starting at the top and heading clockwise, it goes like this. If only I could achieve something really good, something that others will notice – that would keep me going, it would sustain me; at last I would have significance and then I would be accepted. The sad thing is that, going that way round, we will repeat the cycle for a whole lifetime. All the while, the Holy Spirit is whispering; ‘Wrong direction! Begin with acceptance and go the other way’. I am accepted in Jesus (and so by his family, too); it’s a given, it’s the foundation of our lives; that is what gives us significance, that is what sustains us; and with that assurance, enabled by his Spirit, the way is wide open for us to achieve all that he wants us to be.

I want to be part of a church where we can be ourselves, make our mistakes, forgive and be forgiven and press on together towards the goal. In the family of Jesus’ disciples we accept one another because we have all received his grace. Discipleship will thrive in an atmosphere of loving acceptance.

Honour

‘Honour one another above yourselves’ (Rom. 12:10).

We honour one another by taking each other seriously, by giving each other our full attention, by listening to each other. Very often it is the small things that demonstrate mutual honour – the body language, the gesture, the unhurried response. Paul wanted the Ephesian Christians to ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’ (Eph. 5:21). When we look into the face of another brother or sister, we are looking at someone in whom the Creator dwells. Mutual honour is part of the discipling ethos.

Want to find out more?

Delving into the life-experience of Jesus and the twelve he chose to disciple personally, we discover how discipleship could look in our lives, churches and communities, and how we can implement such relationships. Packed with practical suggestions, real-life examples and exploratory questions, Making Disciples is the perfect resource for anyone committed to following Jesus, whether new to the faith or more experienced in the Christian life; or for church or group leaders. Click here to find out more.

Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it? (Part 1)

In this 4 part series, celebrating the release of Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it?, Tony Pullin explores the importance of discipleship and how the nature of our relationships with one another are a vital part of this.

“It came and went – the fireworks, the popping corks and the new millennium year. We found ourselves in the brave new world of the twenty-first century. We caught our breath and looked around us. Still longing, still committed, still praying, ‘Lord, let your kingdom come!’ Society continued to change, but faster. We tried to understand new challenges; serving Jesus in the midst of increasing social breakdown, economic meltdown and political disillusion. New forms of church continued to emerge; lots of things were being re-imagined, often helpfully. And despite the turbulent times, good news stories continued to happen across our nation, and still do.

And through it all, the Great Commission lives in our hearts. We still hear the words of Jesus, as clear today as when he spoke them in the first century: ‘go and make disciples’ (Matt. 28:19).

The age-long mandate doesn’t change. Those words, which rang in the disciples’ ears as they watched Jesus’ feet leave the ground, pass their eye level and disappear above their heads into an unseen realm, still define our mission today. They are at the heart of Jesus’ final instructions.

Making Disciples: How did Jesus do it?‘  is an attempt to ask some questions about how we respond to what Jesus called us to do. What did he mean when he said, ‘make disciples’? What did the Eleven understand by it? What does it mean to us in our time, with the constant challenge of finding our feet in a changing social landscape? If making disciples is more than spreading the good news and introducing others to Christ, how much more? What is our goal as we go about the task of fulfilling Jesus’ command? How do we disciple others? In short: if making disciples was Jesus’ primary strategy for growth, whether of the individual believer, the Church community, or, ultimately, the kingdom itself, are there fresh lessons to learn?

In our search for answers, the best starting point is to rewind a little and ask – how did Jesus do it? How did he take twelve ordinary people from different walks of life and shape them (bar one) to become foundational figures in the Church explosion which followed his return to heaven and the outpouring of the Spirit? Because whatever he did, that process was what the disciples must have understood by his parting words, ‘go and make disciples’.”

Want to find out more?

Delving into the life-experience of Jesus and the twelve he chose to disciple personally, we discover how discipleship could look in our lives, churches and communities, and how we can implement such relationships. Packed with practical suggestions, real-life examples and exploratory questions, Making Disciples is the perfect resource for anyone committed to following Jesus, whether new to the faith or more experienced in the Christian life; or for church or group leaders. Click here to find out more.