If a disciple is one who naturally exhibits the words and deeds of Jesus where they live, work, and play, and if we understand disciple making to be a process, then what are some of the major “road signs” to move us along our way? Today I want to introduce you to four key questions that we as group leaders must be answering for our group members or, in the very least, putting our group members in a position to answer these questions for themselves.
- Identity – Who am I? A major question that every believer must answer is the identity question. As we move from old life to new life by justification and then progress towards glorification through our sanctification, we must remain vigilant to self-critique. One of the major attacks of the spirit of the age is to attempt to define our identities for us. We, as group leaders, must be faithful to the Word to demonstrate people’s identity in Christ: you are an adopted child (Ephesians 1:5), you are co-heir of the kingdom (Romans 8:17), you are salt and light (5:14-16) . . . . Through your teaching, shepherding, and living of the Christian life before your group, you will be affirming and confirming their identity for them.
- Purpose – Why am I here? We must also demonstrate to our groups their purpose in this world. I think that the first response to the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it well: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. How do we do that? First, we glorify God in our worship; and, we understand worship as a lifestyle. We never want to devalue corporate worship on certain days of the week, but we must mature to the point where our lifestyles themselves during the other 167 hours of the week are celebratory worship. As Paul wrote, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And we glorify God by thanking Him and delighting in Him as we enjoy His good gifts. The other dynamic of the Westminster response is to love God forever. That, to me, implies evangelism. Are we expanding the kingdom such that we will have more adopted children and co-heirs to live with God eternally? So, we glorify God through perpetual worship and evangelism.
- Location and Destination – Where am I? If we are regenerate and we do seek to glorify God in all that we do, then how are we going about doing it? Where am I currently on my sanctification (spiritual maturity) process? Am I radically dependent on a weekly group leader to feed me the Word and answer all of my questions, whether theological, biblical, or ethical? Am I like Peter during the night of Jesus’ persecution or am I like Peter at Pentecost? Our obligation as group leaders is two-fold: help our members understand where they are in their maturity and then to paint the picture for who Christ intends them to be. A general spectrum could go something like this: totally inward focused as they are coming to terms with their faith; a shift toward an outward focus where they are doing service projects, charity, and general evangelism; a further shift toward leading others in such projects, Bible study, and group worship; and an even further shift toward making disciples who can then go reproduce themselves as disciples who make disciples. God has called us to be their spiritual guide on that journey!
- Significance – What are my next steps? If my destination is to be a reproducing disciple and I know that I am currently not such a disciple, then how do I become that? We must provide on-ramps for our group members to begin understanding themselves as disciples and then as disciplers of others. We need to apprentice someone. We need to be investing in a sub-group of 3-4 people who can then start their own sub-groups of 3-4 people. We need to be challenging them to love God, which means that they are keeping God’s commandments. (1 John 5:3) This part, group leaders, is the hard work. Here is where we must labor, life-on-life, just as Jesus did with Peter, James, and John, to produce transformed people. And while this work takes much effort; please know that this work is delightful!