Women who are in small groups are much more likely to still be active in church 5 years after joining. (See Thom Rainer’s book, I Will.) Small groups are a major focus for ministry with women in the church, so let’s talk about how we use this powerful vehicle to disciple women no matter what type of small group they are in.
Next time you lead a small group or any kind of Bible study, consider what results you’d like to see. If you don’t really understand what you are trying to accomplish through your group, you will have trouble driving the direction.
First, ask yourself: “What do we want women to do as we disciple them?” If discipleship is conforming to the image of Christ, then we will desire that women live in relationship with Christ daily, fully attached to the vine (John 15). We will want them to submit to God’s authority in every area of their lives and for them to continually become more like Him.
Next, ask yourself: “Is this happening in my own life?” If not, why not? And if not, how can you lead others in growing as a disciple? How can you lead other disciples to make disciples?
Let’s clear up false thinking about spiritual maturity. As we grow in discipleship, the Word becomes more important in our lives, not less. Growing is mostly about small steps, not giant leaps. The more we learn and grow, the more questions about God we have.
Here are a few practical tips to make discipleship a focus of your small groups:
Set (or change) the atmosphere of small groups.
- Pray for hearts to be changed.
- Set a strategy for training women to be disciples.
- Equip leaders to disciple, to expect it, and to anticipate growth.
- Speak about and encourage transformation through discipleship.
- Tell stories of faith and experience. Do it vulnerably.
- Point everyone in same direction, teaching basics over and over until you see the changes happen.
- Show women where to start and where you are heading.
Train leaders in ALL areas of ministry to shepherd those they lead so that those we serve “become.” We always want women to go deeper step by step—from wherever they are to the next place.
Know and teach what your aim is and move from focusing on information to transformation.
Keep your purpose always in front of your group. Speak of it in some way each time you meet. If you lead an ongoing small group, you might consider what I do in mine. At least once a year, I go more in-depth over the parameters for our small group—what we are and what we are not in that small group. For example: it’s not counseling, it is taking the next steps in discipleship, fellowship is important, Bible study is more important, where we are serving, opportunities to serve, missions involvement, etc.
That way those new to the group know what we are all about, and it’s a great reminder to everyone that we will always stick with our main focus in that group.
Next Monday I will share Part 2 in this series for more practical tips for your small group.