Dare to Disciple
Big impact, small group…
By Scott Cheatham
How successful is the discipleship program of your church? While many churches offer a Sunday School or small group format, attendance in these classes has been declining for some time. Even small groups are suffering, and a large percentage of those who attend church do not participate in these groups. The reality is that our culture is overscheduled. If you live in an urban area as I do, the opportunities for activities are numerous, and families are stretched thin.
In 2011, in response to this problem, we changed our discipleship focus. While I didn't want to do away with the Sunday School program, I also saw the need for implementing new ideas in order to bring about valuable changes in the lives of my congregation. Our desire at Rangeview Free Will Baptist Church was to increase commitment while deepening real spiritual growth.
So, we instituted IOU. The initials are known well enough, but for our families, they stand for the three relationships to which God has called us. Those relationships are Inward, Outward, and Upward. Inward in that we need to always cultivate our spiritual growth, outward in that we should always be trying to serve others just as Jesus did, and upward as we worship and praise God each day for all He has done and continues to do for us.
To better cultivate these relationships, we started micro groups of three or fewer people of the same gender who gather weekly to read Scripture, confess sin, and pray. The goal is to encourage members to read 20-30 chapters of Scripture each week, discuss things with which they struggle, and talk about what they have learned from their weekly bible reading, and then close by praying for others outside the church.
Each person identifies at least two people outside the church for whom to pray—six people per group. The goal is to get those people involved in a micro group and ultimately in the church. When a group adds another person (four people), we ask them to split into two groups of two, and each group add another person.
The primary benefit to micro-groups is that it is much easier to increase participation because there are only three schedules to coordinate. In a small group, someone is almost always missing each week due to a conflict. We have encouraged the teens to create similar groups with a little help. A micro group is a natural setting for the average teen, and many teens will not share a lot in a larger group. Because serious discipleship takes place at the micro groups, large group gatherings can focus more on cultural subjects and a bit of fun.
I would like to share more about micro groups beyond this quick overview. Please feel free to contact me at 720-296-1719 if you would like to talk more about this exciting new way to disciple new believers.
About the Writer: Home missionary Scott Cheatham and his family are planting a new in northern Denver, Colorado. Find the church on Facebook.