Two years ago we began to implement a culture of disciple-making in our personal lives and in the church in Pilar. Since that process began, we have seen growth in the Word and growth in numbers. It’s now time for the ministry to take the next step to add another dimension to our evangelism and discipleship.
In order to reach those who are not yet in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, we are launching four new small groups. Each group has a leader who we have been training as well as an apprentice who, Lord willing, will begin and lead his own small group in 12 months. One of the groups is strategically located in the home of a faithful deacon who lives about 20 minutes away, with the hopes that a church plant would grow out of that Bible study one day. We are excited about how God will work through this next phase of ministry!
There are a myriad of definitions of small groups as well as the way they are structured and implemented in a church, but here is what we are doing in Pilar.
The purpose of small groups is to Glorify God.
- Evangelize unbelievers – inviting new people to the group to study the Bible
- Disciple the saved – studying the Bible with believers, encouraging them to greater commitment to the Lord
- Train leaders – equipping them to be leaders of their own future group
→ This is NOT a substitute for one-on-one discipleship; It is another layer in the process of discipleship.
- Establish small groups that increase spiritual growth in the following activities:
- study of the Word
- biblical fellowship
- Train believers to be leaders of their own small group while ministering to unbelievers and/or other believers.
Healthy small groups combine all the elements necessary to grow healthy and reproduce disciples. They offer food and spiritual support, development of skills for ministry, responsibility, training to reach others, long-term relationships, and worship. They develop the skills for leadership and they are the best instrument the church has to bring people together. (Bill Hull, The Complete Book of Discipleship)
Small Group Principles:
- Be intentional in maintaining your own commitment and surrender to the sanctification process of deepening your relationship with Christ
- Provide structure in attending, participating and being punctual
- Promote intimacy by establishing relationships and bonds with others, showing love and support that provides the strongest form of mutual responsibility
- Insist on growth (open groups) by having a mission outside of oneself (evangelizing)
- Make a commitment to multiply each year (train leaders to start their own groups)
Requirements for leaders: Each leader must
- Be an example in their character (1 Cor 11: 1, Mark 3: 13-14, Acts 6: 1-7, 1 Tim 3: 1-16, Titus 1)
- be faithful in his service (1 Cor 4: 2; 2 Tim 2: 2)
- be an active member of the Independent Baptist Church of Pilar
- follow a more mature believer in the faith (each one follow one)
- guide a newer believer in the faith (each one lead one)
- take a Bible Institute class or inductive study per year (each one take one)
- go through a previous training time with the Pastor to share the philosophy and purpose of the small groups and be able to continue growing during the time of their leadership
- Be fit to lead
- Be available to devote the necessary time to the project
If you want to be the kind of leader that others follow, you must pass the simple spiritual test of being teachable, humble and always progressing.
Materials to study: We follow the church’s established “Recommended Resources” list. Each member of the group must obtain a copy of the study book in order to read and meditate on it during the month, before arriving at the small group meeting. Not only is it more profitable for learning, but it also protects the group from the risk of shared ignorance and false teachings.