Hey Growth Group Leaders!
I am so excited to be kicking off the group year and I hope you are too! For those of you doing Rooted in your groups, I know it will be a rich time of connecting with God and each other as you learn about and implement the seven spiritual rhythms of Rooted. For those of you not doing Rooted, I am confident that the study in John Chapters 1-3 will grow you in your understand of Christ and how He impacts our lives.
I am incredibly thankful for your willingness to intentionally disciple the people in your group. That word “discipleship” can sometimes be confusing. Our first thought of discipleship is in regards to Jesus. Over the course of three years, He did life with twelve men. They worked together, lived together, ate together, and worshiped together as He pointed them towards God’s plan of salvation. Almost every aspect of life was done together between Jesus and His disciples.
So, is that discipleship? Does discipleship require us to spend every waking minute with our group members? If I said yes, I would send each of you running for the hills! We love those in our groups, but we have our limits…
With most things in ministry, there are methods, and then there are principles. Jesus’ method of discipleship was unique to His time and culture. It would be near impossible to implement His method in our time and place today. Jesus’ method is impractical for many of us. However, His principles of discipleship are as true today as they were then.
As we lead our groups, I want to highlight a couple discipleship principles.
#1- Discipleship is others focused
“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36
God is all sufficient. If all things come from Him and are for Him, then He needs nothing. Jesus did not need the twelve to accomplish what He did. He could have done that all on His own through His own divine power.
Rather, Jesus chose twelve unlikely men to build up and train for Kingdom work and clearly demonstrated to us that discipleship is others focused. Yes, I have been blessed beyond measure leading groups. But, just like you, I never got into it thinking of what I might gain. Our own growth from discipling others is a fringe benefit of helping others deepen their faith.
I know all of lead our groups for the benefit of others. Yes, I am preaching to the choir. However, it is always a good reminder that discipleship dies when we shift the focus on ourselves.
#2 Discipleship is sacrificial
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
A disciple is simply a follower of Christ. Jesus’ last command before ascending back to heaven was to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We know that passage as the Great Commission. We quickly assume that the Great Commission only applies to believers called to cross cultural church planting and Bible translation- AKA missions. But the Great Commission actually applies to each one of us that would claim to be followers of Christ.
Jesus demonstrated a sacrificial life (again, I’m preaching to the choir). We tend to only think about the sacrifice on the cross, but He sacrificed more than that- go read Philippians 2:1-11. I want you to think about the fact that Jesus left Hiss place on high to be born as a baby, to grow up feeling pain and loss. To live a very humble life and exposed Himself to a fallen world. Through that, Jesus could empathize with His creation (Hebrews 4:15).
Discipleship will cost each of us something. It will take time and it will require study, prayer, and love. Each of us will make different sacrifices this year to spur our groups towards Christ, but the reward is great.
I want to wrap up by encouraging you with this: Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
At some point in the coming months, we will get tired and want to throw in the towel. It’s oaky to get tired- we all do. But I want to push us all to start strong and finish stronger because the work we do in Growth Groups is bigger than us. We may not always see the fruit of our labor in ministry on this side of eternity, but know that the Lord is using our efforts to not just change the world, but change the eternal destiny for those that place their faith in Christ.