An Open Letter to Our Small Group Leaders (Part 5)

Hi Small Group Leaders,

In a series of open letters over the summer I’m focusing on several small steps we’ll be taking this fall to mature and deepen how we do small groups, so that we can more effectively make disciples who make more disciples.

One of the ideas I’ve been trying to communicate is that disciple-makers are not made in a meeting alone. The meeting is important. But if you needed surgery, would you want a surgeon who only had book knowledge and discussions of their reading for training? Disciple-makers are not made in a meeting alone, no matter how good that meeting is.

Disciple-makers are made in life. If we want the meeting to count for something, we need to connect it to life. Like a surgeon gets tested, apprentices, practices, and gets feedback outside the classroom, making disciple-makers requires “testing” or accountability (“Did you do what you said you were going to do?”), feedback (“Maybe next time you should try…?), practice, apprenticeship, etc. 

One simple but profound step in that direction (it’s only a step, mind you), is to have a group Rule of Life that includes practices for the group gathered (e.g., “together we will prepare and serve a meal at Dorothy Day every other month” or “we will turn one of our meetings each month into a family gathering with a meal, fun, and game”) and for the group members when scattered (e.g., “we will all commit to read and reflect on Scripture daily” or “we will all commit to pray daily for five people in our lives who are far from God”). 

The group Rule of Life will be made up of practices you do when gathered and when scattered. 

Now, having a group Rule of Life is only worthwhile if you also make time to talk about it together—offering encouragement, problem-solving together, admitting failure, getting feedback, etc.

How do you form a group Rule of Life? Well, we will give you a template with instructions. There will be some practices that we want all the groups to include and many that will be peculiar to your group. I’m thinking it will take a portion of one or two meetings to complete the Rule of Life. And I also expect that you will want to revise it as you progress through the next ministry year. 

In my next letter I’ll outline another simple but profound step for changing the paradigm for doing small groups and becoming more effective makers of disciples who make disciples. 

Pastor Henry