Tony Miltenberger is a husband, father, and follower of Christ. He is currently serving as the lead pastor at Restoration Church Centerville, ohio.

My View of Small Groups Just Wrecked

I’ve been a small-groups guy since the beginning of my ministry. I love the idea of committed individuals getting together in small community and doing life together. I’ve called them small groups, life groups, cell groups, or just groups. I just think everyone needs one or two safe places to be. 

For the longest time I would have said that a small group is the best way to bring discipleship into the church.  Something recently has changed my mind on that and has drastically shifted my thinking on the purpose of a small group. What I’ve recently realized is that the small group is the vehicle for getting to the real form of discipleship: personal relationships with one or two people. 

As I look at small groups (or whatever you want to call them), I’m beginning to conclude that they can sometimes become another place where people just show up. I’m learning that the fundamental thing that we must teach is what to do with the one or two other people in order to become disciples. 

A Navigator (a Christian non-profit) Missionary by the name of Justin Gravitt has done a ton to help me see some new conclusions based upon my old thoughts, and here are my top five:

1.    Discipleship only really happens in ones or twos, and this is as true in business as it is in faith. You cannot physically mentor more than a couple of people at a time, because it just requires too much time to do it correctly. 

2.    Discipleship must be multiplied, and if it dies with the person you are pouring it into then it wasn’t discipleship, it was just preaching. 

3.    The relationship must be rooted in scripture if you want to call it Christian discipleship. Anything short of that is just being friends.

4.    Intentionality in the process is key.  Tell’em what you are doing! 

5.    Small groups are still the best vehicles to get people into relationships, but they are more the starting point than the ending point.

With that in mind, I can stop manufacturing groups and instead start pouring myself into one or two people, with the intent that they will do the same. Groups are still important, but they are just a place where more people can get into deeper relationships. 

What do you think? Have you ever been discipled? 

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