The Post is Part of a 9 Essentials of a Discipleship Group Series
Perhaps no phrase rings truer when it comes to Discipleship Groups than this one: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In order for people to grow towards Christlikeness together, there has to be a bond in the group. That bond breeds trust, encouragement, and accountability. When authentic friendships are lacking, group conversations (and therefore spiritual growth) stay shallow and stagnant. Simply put, Discipleship Groups do not survive without authentic relationships.
So, if relationships are the glue that holds our Discipleship Groups together, how do we develop and grow them with the people in our groups?
Choose your group members wisely
The easiest way to guarantee success in developing relationships with the people in your group is to pick people that you know have common interests or that are in a similar stage of life. The greatest fishing pond to pick people from is your Life Group. You can make it work with anybody if you put in the time and effort, but why not go with the people already in close proximity to you? (Until everyone in your Life Group is leading a group of their own of course.)
Share your testimony
This is the first step of vulnerability and trust in a Discipleship Group. Regardless of what walk of life each of you are in, you can all find common ground in your story of repenting of your sin and pledging your allegiance to Christ. Not only do you develop relationships with others by sharing your story, but you are bound to find similarities within your stories that build an instant connection. Have everyone in your group share their testimony in the first couple of weeks that you meet. And as a bonus, this is a great teaching exercise if members of your group have never developed their testimony!
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Spend group time simply catching up
It would be sad to get to the end of 12-18 months together and realize you studied Scripture but never took the time to get to know one another. Be willing to take a few minutes at the beginning of your group to hear about each other’s week. It can be something as simple as sharing a highlight and a lowlight. Even if it’s just 10 minutes this time ensures that your Discipleship Group does not feel overly formal or academic. It adds fun to the group and fun is obviously great for group morale and cohesiveness.
Spend time together outside of the group
“Dylan, are you telling me I need to add something else to my calendar?” Well, yes. When was the last time you built a close relationship without hanging out with them? Your Discipleship Group members do not have to be your best friends but hey, they just might become that if you give it a shot! If you are serious about growing the relationships in your group you have to make time to have fun together on occasion. Watch a game, catch a movie, go shopping, get creative! The closer you become outside the meeting time, the closer you will become in the meeting time.
Disciples grow when they are in an environment of trust. Trust happens as strong relationships are built over time. Discipleship Groups thrive when the relationships between group members become authentic and meaningful. You’ll be glad you put in the time and effort it takes to develop true friendships with the people you are discipling.
Originally posted on Replicate’s blog here. Used by permission.