If a disciple is a follower, he needs something to follow. For Christians, that means Christ. The job of the disciple-maker, then, is to point people to Christ. Discipleship goes beyond teaching people more about Christ. It’s about teaching people to obey and follow Christ. But how do we do that? Small groups are foundational to this and involve developing a follower of Christ in a holistic way. How to successfully launch small groups this fall requires the engagement of a person’s head, heart, and hands. Sometimes even great leaders struggle with this requirement, but those who do it well and know how to lead a church small group have two things in common:
- a natural ability to connect with and develop people
- implemented systems to help them stay the course, measure results, and produce consistent outcomes
Addressing and learning about the correlation of the head, heart, and hands of a Christ follower is the essence of small groups. This avenue to help people connect, grow, and receive care is the lifeline of the church. So what does it look like to bring the head, heart, and hands together?
~ Let’s start with the head ~
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason,
full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17
Before starting a small group in the fall, remember that disciples need head knowledge, which can include books, teachings, videos, guides, and memories from real-life experiences. Developing this requires four things:
- good content
- a method of content delivery to the disciple
- consumption of content by the disciple
- testing or utilization of the knowledge
~ Next, we process the content in our hearts ~
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you,
asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” – Colossians 1:9
Someone who knows a lot but doesn’t share values is just a student. On the other hand, a disciple takes ownership and absorbs the information and experiences in such a way that they actually take on the makeup of their disciple-maker. It’s a reflection of his heart. Peter and John began to look like Christ, not just know about him.
- The best way to develop the heart of a disciple is to share yours.
- Be intentional about sharing stories, enjoying meals, and praying together so that your hearts are beating to the same rhythm… the rhythm of Christ.
~ Finally, we put what we’ve learned and absorbed into action with our hands ~
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in
Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the
presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,
who will be able to teach others also.” – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Jesus sent his disciples out before they were fully ready, knowing full well that the hands-on experience itself would further prepare them. You have to give your disciples opportunities to lead, or at least take on responsibilities that challenge them and help them learn the limits of their character and abilities. Create tasks and experiences that will challenge, but not break, your disciples, such as:
- leading a group
- creating a document
- setting up an event
- serving the community
It’s hard to consistently function and excel in developing people in all three (head, heart, and hands) areas. The best way to ensure success while planning church fall small groups is to create a system that has multiple, well-thought, custom steps that help people learn, feel, and do the work of ministry. It could be as simple as reading a book, discussing it, and putting it into practice. Or, it could be much more multi-faceted. Whichever the case, you need a system that will lay it all out, have trigger points to move people to the next step, and provide communication tools to process the experience. Communication and community go hand-in-hand. Good communication is the stepping stone to building a strong, vibrant community. It increases engagement, drives discipleship, and increases spiritual growth.
For more information on Small Groups, please visit our Small Group blogs at our Church Growth site.
As Vice President of Sales and Business Development, Thomas is responsible for the company’s overall sales production through multiple sales channels. Born and raised in Florence, S.C., Thomas has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing leadership. He holds a degree in business and is currently pursuing an Organizational Leadership degree. He loves seeing people move outside of their comfort zone and exceed their goals. In addition to his work at ACS Technologies, he volunteers with several organizations, including a local ministry here in Florence.