Kate Allred presented these five ideas for how you can make sure discipleship occurs in the small group setting:
The first is to Identify and Build the Spiritual Gifts of Each Member.
Since there is a more personal relationship among the group, it would be easier to identify each member’s unique gifts and talents and help them nurture these gifts. God does not randomly give spiritual gifts, and He has given us gifts to be used for His glory. Small groups can be an environment to identify and grow God-given abilities.
The second is to Get Personal.
Small group members are encouraged to meet outside of group meetings, aside from studying the Word together and praying for one another. They can also be present in each other’s personal events such as attending children’s birthday parties and the like. Through these interpersonal relationships, members will develop the connection needed to encourage and challenge each other. This is why leaders are to encourage these kinds of personal meetings and events wherever and whenever possible.
The third is to Focus Outward.
Many leaders tend to concentrate only on the inward aspects of their small groups. However, a certain amount of outward focus is also needed for the group. Leaders must observe a balance between forming tight bonds within the small group and participating as followers of Jesus to the larger community. Allred recommends that small groups consider adopting a community or create a group service project that will keep some outward focus as they continue building stronger relationships.
Fourth on Allred’s list is to Hold Each Other Accountable.
Accountability is one of the most important aspects of discipleship. To hold oneself and the other members of the small group accountable should not have to be uncomfortable. Accountability must be initiated and kept within the group through a pleasant and loving approach. Small group leaders can encourage members to grow as disciples as they gently hold them accountable and help them overcome their challenges.
Lastly, Choose Curriculum Carefully.
The curriculum that the small groups are using should be tailored to the members’ level of faith and knowledge. The material should be easy to grasp band challenging because it requires intense discussion to fully understand and apply it in our daily lives. Discipleship is a process of growth as much as it is a state of being, but this growth cannot happen without challenging and pushing oneself.
Allred further emphasized that discipleship is one of the most important factors in the success of small groups. A group focused on discipleship will form meaningful relationships. They can grow together in Christ to become a positive force in the church and community.
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