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Discipleship Groups

One of the most important concepts in the New Testament concerning the nature and function of the local Church is the essential place that small groups have in the overall program of the Church.

"Small groups" or "house churches" or "discipleship groups" are not to be viewed as being a luxury which is optional.  But, rather, your participation in a small group is absolutely essential for your growth and maturity as a Christian.

Let us examine the place and function of small groups in the New Testament and in history.

  1. The Biblical Basis
    1. The example of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:46,47).

    2. The theological basis in the New Testament.
      • We are called to Discipleship.
      • Discipleship encompasses four activities:
        1. To become a disciple of Christ  (Matt. ll:28-30)
        2. After conversion, to disciple yourself continuously (John 8:3l)
        3. To make other disciples for Christ. (Matt. 28:l9,20)
        4. After conversion, to disciple one another continuously (Col. 3:l6, etc.)

    3. God has created the local Church as the context and means of discipleship (Matt.l6:l8; l8:l5-l7).

      The way the local Church fulfills its God- given function is to provide the motivation, atmosphere, place, time and knowledge needed for the believers to fulfill their New Testament responsibilities to themselves, the Church and to the world.

      The Church does this along the lines of the four activities of discipleship:

       
      1. "To Become a Disciple of Christ"
        • Motivation for personal salvation.
        • Personal counseling which leads you to salvation.

      2. "To Disciple Yourself"
        • Motivation for personal discipleship.
        • Training in discipleship.
        • Programs which provide the atmosphere, time and place for discipleship.

      3. "To Make Disciples for Christ"
        • Motivation for evangelism.
        • Training for evangelism.
        • Programs which provide the occasion, place, time and atmosphere for evangelism.

      4. "To Disciple One Another"
        • Motivation for mutual discipleship.
        • Training in discipling others.
        • Programs which supply the place, time and atmosphere for discipleship.

    4. The traditional Church has provided the place and time for the pastor and Sunday School teachers to evangelize and to disciple the congregation. But it has failed to provide the place or time for mutual discipleship. Only a small group program can enable the believers to fulfill their biblical responsibility for mutual discipleship.

    5. Dynamic growth through conversions is a benefit of small groups. The groups feed into the church as the church equips the groups to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:ll-l2).

  2. II. Small Groups in Scripture and History

    1. Christ and His "discipleship Group," called the Apostles (Mark 3:l4). The Church was born out of this small discipleship group.

    2. The early church in the New Testament (Acts 2:46).

      The Total Program of the Church

      CORPORATE ASSEMBLING:

      SMALL GROUPS:

      "In the Temple"

      "In Houses"


    3. Small Groups in Church History

      1. The Christian conquest of the Roman Empire was primarily through small groups.

      2. The Dark Ages saw knowledge survive in small groups.

      3. The Reformation advanced through small groups.

      4. The Great Evangelical Revivals always produced small groups.

      5. Christians in Communist Countries exist only in small groups.

      6. Revival stirrings throughout the Church today is resulting in small groups.

      7. The Future?

  3. Conclusions Drawn

    1. To develop a New Testament Church today, we should meet in small groups as well as in corporate assembly.

    2. To cause a mighty reformation and a revival of evangelical religion in the world today, we must return to the tried and true method of small groups.

    3. This is God's way.
     

     SMALL GROUPS     

    CORPORATE MEETINGS

     

    Worship

     

    Worship

     

     Testimony (Give)

     

    Testimony (Hear)

     

    Prayer (Speak)

     

    Prayer (Hear)

     

     Bible study  

     

    Vital learning experience

     

    Dialogue

     

    Monologue

     

    Service

     

    Edification (General)

     

     Revival

     

    Equipping the Saints by the Pastors

     

    Edification (Personal)

     

    Maturity (Faith, Hope, Love)

     

     "Community" or "Family Feelings"

     

     Spiritual Gifts
           Discovery
           Exercise

     

     Evangelism

     

     Discipling one another

 

Conclusion
The small group setting provides the place and time for the people of God to do the work of ministry in evangelism and mutual discipleship. The importance of the small group cannot be over emphasized.