Discipleship Groups: The Ingredients

MERCYhouse is a gospel-centered family on mission to make disciples who make disciples. We hope that’s clear when you come to worship with us on Sunday. We hope that’s clear as you attend any of our (many) events this fall. And we hope that’s especially clear as you hear about our sole group offering this semester: Discipleship Groups.

What are Discipleship Groups?

Discipleship Groups are groups of 3-4 people who meet weekly during the semester to learn and engage with Gospel Belief and Spiritual Practice. It’s a place where people are learning how to be disciples (followers) of Jesus, while also learning how to make disciples of others.

We take Jesus’ command to make disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 seriously and want to create opportunities for this to happen here at MERCYhouse. This is why we have Discipleship Groups! Not to check a box off or feel good about ourselves, but to be obedient to Christ and experience faithful living in fellowship with Him and others.

Over the course of 10 weeks you will meet at a time that’s best for you and your Discipleship Group members and be led by our trained Discipleship Group Leaders through 6 chapters of Greg Ogden’s Discipleship Essentials. It’s a fantastic resource that helps establish people in Christian belief and practice, while also sparking great conversations on both.

That’s the content. But what’s the culture? There are four ingredients that we believe are crucial for Discipleship Groups to succeed in helping mature you in your faith and equipping you to make disciples.

Ingredient 1: Size

Our Discipleship Groups are intentionally 3-4 people in size. While this is not a strict rule, we believe groups this size can be fruitful for several reasons. One: it gives everyone a chance to interact with the content in a meaningful way. People learn at different speeds and a smaller group accommodates this reality within a reasonable amount of time. Smaller groups allow more people to talk more often. Two: it allows transparency to occur more naturally. In Ogden’s words: “Self-disclosure is integral to transformation, and openness becomes increasingly difficult in direct proportion to the size of the group.” Three: it helps with accountability. It’s easier to hide in a larger group, making it possible to be present but not participate. This is not what produces spiritual maturity or growth of faith!

Ingredient 2: Truth

Discipleship Groups are anchored to the unchanging truth of God’s Word (the Bible). The Word of God is solid footing in a culture filled with sandy, unstable philosophies and worldviews. Our Discipleship Groups engage directly with scripture, seeing first hand how they inform both how we think and how we live. This pursuit and anchoring to truth is not done in a vacuum— it’s done in the context of honest and transparent relationships.

Ingredient 3: Transparency

The pursuit of truth without acknowledgement of where we stand in comparison to that truth is a sterile, academic exercise. It’s like being taught how to swim through a lecture— you may receive some valuable knowledge but one would never call themselves a swimmer unless they honestly assess themselves in the water. This requires humility and vulnerability, but it is mutual. Your Discipleship Group Leader will be modeling this transparency.

Ingredient 4: Mutual Accountability

It’s one thing to know how things ought to be, and it’s another to be honest about how we might fall short of that. But if we stop there, we end up merely justifying our spiritual mediocrity week after week. Included in the culture of Discipleship Groups is a hopeful expectation that the Holy Spirit is producing true transformation in us as we follow Christ. Discipleship Groups are encouraged to hold one another accountable— not just in participation of the group but also to the deep convictions and commitments the group members are making as the Spirit leads them.

In Ogden’s words, “when the Truth of God’s Word is at the heart of self-revealing, intimate relationships rooted in mutual accountability, you have the ingredients for Spirit-motivated transformation.” This is our hope and prayer as we invite you to participate in Discipleship Groups at MERCYhouse!

Tommy Moore is a Staff Associate of Spiritual Formation at MERCYhouse. If you have any questions, you can reach him directly: tommy@mercyhouse365.org.