A church that wants to program for disciple-making needs to do at least these three things:
- Teach a biblical worldview (large groups)
- Teach and apply the content of the Bible to daily living, with general accountability (small groups [6-25 participants])
- Practice transparency and accountability that focuses on specific issues or behaviors in accountability groups (3-5 participants).
FIRST: teach a biblical worldview.
I posted about this yesterday.
Second, teach and apply the content of the Bible to daily living.
Churches should provide for Bible study in smaller groups–between 6 and 25 people?–that focuses on theology AND application. Don’t fall into the trap of separating what is taught/believed (theology, doctrine) from what is lived (application). Application gives legs and hands to theology. Theology gives heartbeat and breath and power to what is lived.
This should involve reading biblical texts together, discussing the truths that those texts reveal, and applying those truths to daily life. There should be general accountability among the group.
These groups should also be the place where your people learn about spiritual disciplines; general accountability applies to this, also. A group of people learning together about fasting and prayer, for example, can be a powerful thing. (HT to John Flowers for suggesting this.)
Here’s an example of the kind of Bible study I have in mind, with the accent on application. If your text is “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you” (Luke 6.28), the teacher should:
- Talk about Jesus’ attitude toward those who opposed him, and how it embodies God’s desire to redeem his rebellious creatures.
- Bring in other biblical texts that support and flesh-out the idea: Psalm 103, Paul’s attitude toward his opponents, Jesus on the cross, 1 Peter 2.21-25, etc.
- Challenge the participants to examine their attitudes toward the people that they think of as “opponents of Christianity” (Ephesians 6.12)
- Challenge the participants to think of people who are now mistreating them, or who have mistreated them in the past.
- Challenge the participants to pray for and/or find a way to bless those people before the next Bible study.
- At the next Bible study, ask the group for stories about what happened when they tried to live out Jesus’ words.