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What are Discipleship Groups?

Posted by James Carroll on

Parkway Baptist Church exists to glorify God by making disciples. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so believers are responsible to reflect God in the world. While this involves every aspect of our lives, it can perhaps be summarized best through the idea of  “following Jesus.”  This was the terminology Jesus used in calling His first disciples (see Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 5). The starting point and basic framework for living a God-honoring life is trusting fully in Jesus and surrendering our lives in full submission to Him. Thus, following Jesus refers to a life that is joined to Him by faith and committed to living as He did.

As Jesus prepared to ascend back to heaven and send the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower His followers, He charged them (and all who would come after them) to “make disciples.” Stemming from the Great Commission, we can summarize our responsibility of reflecting God in the world by living as disciples who make disciples.

The Church exploded in the days and weeks after Jesus’ ascension and several important activities emerged among this group of Jesus-followers as instruments for helping individuals grow in their knowledge of God and in their obedience to Him. The description of the first believers in Acts 2 relates several of these key functions, which form a basis for our ministry structure at Parkway. To help one another develop as disciples, we foster multiplication in four key areas: Fellowship, Obedience, Service, and Missions. As we grow in these areas, we mature as disciples, invite others to join us in following Jesus, and therefore, glorify God. Through this development, we become multiplying disciples through whom God accomplishes this work in each of us as we proclaim His Word to one another with prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Our mission and vision operate on more of a theoretical level describing and defining the big-picture of what, how, and why of our ministry. These concepts are important but require a more practical explanation. Even if we understand them perfectly, we still need help applying these ideas to our lives. To this end, Marshall, our Pastoral Associate for Adult Discipleship, has been working to clarify the best pathways for this work. In short, how can we become disciple-making disciples? These pathways are not all new to us, but I’m grateful for his reframing and recasting them for us. We can identify four of them: Congregational Worship, Adult Small Groups, Discipleship Groups, and Personal Spiritual Disciplines.

Three of the four pathways are hopefully familiar to nearly all of us and all can play an important role in our growth. While congregational worship is the primary and necessary way the people of God gather regularly, it is not sufficient for maturity. In other words, our 10:30 Sunday gathering ought to be a non-negotiable priority for every one of us, but it should not be the sum total of our participation in the life of the church. Instead, we must meaningfully participate in other ways as well. Adult Small Groups and Discipleships Groups are not “requirements” for us as church members nor are they biblically-mandated as a means of discipleship. Rather, they are pathways that, in our context, provide a reasonable opportunity for God to accomplish His sanctifying work in us.

You will be reading and hearing more about these in the weeks ahead and I hope you’ll join us in them as we seek to glorify God by making disciples together.

To view our video that explains in more detail, please click here.