3 Effortless Ways to Successfully Lead a Discipleship Group

Crystal Clear Water This is the seventh of several posts written by some of my top Small Group Communication students at Azusa Pacific University.  They’ve been learning all about what makes groups and teams great, and I’ve selected just a few excellent posts that will benefit my readers.  Enjoy!

By Gennavieve Carmazzi, Junior Communication Studies Major


Jesus called us to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19), but how do we do that?  Today’s church has responded to this question by establishing discipleship groups.  Here are three ways to equip you with the tools to successfully lead a small discipleship group.


First, keep your number precise and use each individual to his or her fullest potential.  Only include the number of people that are absolutely necessary so that each individual feels as though they make meaningful contributions to the group.* This feeling results in productive and successful group function, because each member considers their personal role valuable to the larger context of the group and will, therefore, desire to play their role in achieving group success.


Second, recognize that every individual involved within your group has unique personal reasons for joining the group and expectations for the group’s outcomes.  Ensure that implicit expectations for the group are made explicit.  This can be done through open discussion and conversation about group goals, norms, and direction.  Ask yourself: What are some goals we hope to achieve? Those might be completing an entire book series, increasing prayer life, serving together, and so on. In addition, ask: How do the personalities within the group mesh? Where is this group headed? Offer as much clarity as possible in order to provide a common ground for the group to function on the same page.** This will help create a positive climate for your discipleship group, and provide an environment for growth and success.


Third, evaluate your group members’ spiritual gifts in order to understand how to best utilize their individual gifts and skills, making sure to note where you can help to facilitate further development of these skills.  Each member will have different ways to contribute to the group.*** Some individuals will present thought-provoking questions, some may voice different perspectives, and some may provide food for the group – the list goes on and on.   Understanding the qualities that every individual has to offer will help you to see how each member fits into the group puzzle.  As the leader, you will have the opportunity to develop the gifts that your members have, pushing them to be all God created them to be and empowering them to succeed.   These three tips will provide you with a foundation for leading a small, discipleship group and, in turn, help you to obey Jesus’ commandment to “make disciples.”

* For more information about the influence/effects of group size, check out J. D. Rothwell’s In Mixed Company (p.59-65).
**For more on facilitating your group’s communication take a look at Sunwolf, & Frey, L.R. (2005). Facilitating group communication. In S. A. Wheelan (Ed.), The Handbook of Group Research and Practice, (p. 485-509).
***To read what Scripture says about this topic, please refer to 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:4-8.
photo by: mynameisharsha

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