Want Groups to Multiply? Stay Simple & Consistent

groups multiply
Imagine someone running in a baton race carrying a large, heavy piece of wood. It would be hard to pass on to the next runner, right? One person may be large and strong and able to run with it. But the next runner may not. Discipleship groups are very similar to this.
 
The baton used in a race is lightweight. It is designed to be easily transferred from the hands of one runner to another.
 
It is the same in a Disciple Making Movement. Discipleship methods must be simple and light. In DMMs, we are intentional about making everything we do easy for others to also do.

Reproducible Discipleship

Keeping your discipleship structure and meeting format consistent lends toward multiplication. While it is fun and interesting to do things with a lot of variety, it often doesn’t reproduce well.
 
Random discipleship doesn’t reproduce. Follow a simple plan. This is much more effective in rapidly equipping new disciple-makers.
 
A Coaching Conversation
 
What did you talk about in your Discovery Bible Study (DBS) today?” I asked.
We chose one of my favorite passages,” he said.
That is a good one! I like it too,” was my reply after hearing the Bible reference.
I’m curious. How do you decide which scripture to study each week?” was my next question.
We pray and find something that we think will be good,” he said.
Hmm,” I pondered, considering his situation.
 
This DMM effort had been struggling to see multiplication. They were doing regular Discovery Bible Studies. But the group members seemed hesitant to start their own groups. They lacked confidence and self-initiative.
 
Have you ever considered using an established set of stories? Or a list of verses everyone leading DBS groups follows? Instead of choosing verses randomly?” I asked.
 
This was a new idea to him. We talked about how to go about deciding on a short and long term discipleship plan for their work. A clear decision on this would help move them toward their desire for multiplication.

Reasons To Make A Simple, Clear Plan

1) A clear discipleship plan enables new believers to disciple others.

Establish as a team what your short and long-term discipleship plans will be. What scriptures will you study with a new believer? What topics will you cover?
 
I personally like an adapted version of Ying Kai’s “Baby Lessons.” There are many good options to consider, or you can create your own plan. The important thing is to establish a clear strategy for early discipleship.
 
Then use that plan consistently. Train disciples to follow it with those they lead to faith.
 
Also, develop a list of scriptures or Bible stories for longer-term discipleship. Use those in the groups/house churches. Circulate this list so everyone can easily access it.
 
The long-term plan should provide a good Biblical overview. Take time to think about the spiritual strongholds of your particular context. Be sure to include stories and scriptures in your long-term plan that will address these things.

2) Random is hard. Structured is simple.

Confidence comes from being able to mimic. Having to choose what to study themselves will slow down (or even stop) multiplication. If they do what you did with them, new believers will feel they are doing the “right” thing with those they are discipling.
 
Western culture is addicted to variety. We bore easily. But consistency is more important than having lots of options when multiplying disciples. Too many options make a new disciple confused and overwhelmed. The result? They hesitate and want a more mature disciple to lead everything.

3) Avoid major discipleship gaps by following a plan.

Planning your discipleship will avoid unintended gaps in what you address.
 
Haphazardly choosing scriptures tends to highlight the things we enjoy studying. Instead, as the disciples grow, they need to receive the whole counsel of God.
 
It may be beneficial to avoid these topics in short-term discipleship phases. But as people continue to grow toward maturity, these gaps must be filled in.
 

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27 ISV

Pressure To Be Exciting

Sometimes there is pressure to produce exciting discipleship materials. We want to do new things to keep our DBS or T4T meetings fun and interesting. We are tempted to put on a “show” and may be fearful of boring people.
 
If you have big churches nearby, the things done on stage are amazing! Expensive concerts, bands, lights, sound, etc. are considered necessary to attract people.
 
In launching a Disciple Making Movement, however, simple and consistent is what matters.
 
Quality discipleship doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. In fact, the more expensive, flashy, creative and “interesting” it is, the less likely it will reproduce beyond the first generation.
 
“The testimony of our conscience is that we conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you, in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God.” 2 Cor. 1:12- ISV.
 
Keep it simple. Keep it the same. Keep it a light baton.
 
Then you will watch someone who has only been a believer a few months, pick up the disciple-making baton and start discipling others. And those disciples will disciple others too. A movement will be the result.

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