I once heard Len Sweet describe the movement of God is like a tornado in that it touches down randomly opposed to a hurricane that swipes across a landscape destroying everything in its path. He paused and went on by saying if we would ever learn to connect the dots. I remember reflecting on this conversation and thinking I want to spend the rest of my life connecting the dots.
That's precisely what I've done with Gospel Disciple Life Micro-Groups, I've connected a lot of dots. I don't claim any originality with this approach. However, there are some of my unique nuances.
Let me say before I give you the principles that drive this approach that my goal was to make it as reproducible as possible, and I believe I have.
Gospel first approach. There was a season in my life when I went on a kind of fast. I spent a year reading through the gospels. In that year, I read nothing else. My goal was to rediscover the simplicity of Jesus and His ways. The Gospel Disciple Life is a gospel first approach. Those who participate will spend up to 18 weeks reading through the gospel.
Simple enough to reproduce. Micro-groups can be led by anyone, at any time, and in any place. They are designed for three people, with one serving as a facilitator. The goal of the micro-group is rapid reproduction by making disciples that make disciples. A healthy micro-group can consist of pre-disciples, new disciples, growing disciples, leading disciples, and catalytic disciples (types of disciples). The goal is not to control them, but to allow them to multiply through natural relational networks rapidly. By limiting them to three, it forces you to reproduce new groups to grow.
Scripture is our curriculum. Each micro-group begins by working through the gospel as a scripture-only approach. It is recommended that a new group start by reading through Mark. Mark is the shortest and, in some ways, the easiest to read of the four gospels. It will take approximately three weeks to get through Mark. It is important to note that it is not necessary to complete all four Gospels to multiply. Some groups will be ready or designed to reproduce after completing their first gospel together, while others will complete all four.
Holy Spirit is our teacher. Key to the Gospel Disciple Life is learning to hear the Spirit. Each day you will read the Scripture while asking, "What is Jesus saying to me through His Scripture?" and "What am I going to do about it?"
Following Jesus is our ultimate objective. A disciple is a follower of Jesus that is learning to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and leave what Jesus left behind. Therefore, our goal is to learn to see God at work, hear His voice, understand His ways, and to follow Him, which is why we continually ask, "What is Jesus saying to me through His Scripture?" and "What are you going to do about it?"
Invite your one approach. Inviting your one is absolutely key to making disciples that make disciples. A new micro-group is launched when someone asks their one to read through the gospels with them when you find that one, you invite them to invite one more. Once you invite your one, you have taken the first step in making disciples. That one can be an existing disciple or a pre disciple. It's that simple. You are now ready to get started.
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A few years back, I wrote a book called Breaking the Discipleship Code. My goal was helping churches transition from a weekend-mostly to a disciple-making culture. Then it happened; we experienced a radical shift in culture. We went from developing strategies to reach 'seekers' to trying to figure out how to get the attention and engage the 'nones', not an easy task.
Just about that time, I felt as if we were getting a handle on disciple-making, well we had a pandemic. Who among us could have imagined something coming our way that would stop our worship services and our small group meetings?
While this time has been challenging, it has also served up a fresh batch of hope for the Church. It's amazing how the Church keeps finding a way. When Jesus declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, He was spot-on. Our ecosystem as a church has radically changed over the past few months. People are showing up online and in parking lots who have previously stayed away at any cost.
Our mission of making disciples has resurfaced as our go-to strategy for being the Church. New forms and expressions, both new and old, had led the way. One strategy now stands head and shoulders above the rest, they go by different names, but I call them micro-groups. They are simply groups of 3 to 5 disciples that are committed to rapid multiplication. This strategy is the most bulletproof and straightforward approach to being and making disciples that I have come across.
Here's a little taste of what's to come in our next webinar in the form of four principles that every micro-group follows.
Join me in our upcoming webinar on May 19th, where I will lay out this simple strategy that you can integrate and make a part of your new normal.
See you there!
David Putman is the founder of Planting the Gospel and a Senior Lead Navigator with Auxano the category leader in vision clarity. When David isn't writing or consulting he enjoys staying fit and competing at Crossfit.