Our church wants to launch the Core Discipleship process. Do we need to invite you to come train our group?
No. Though I would be honored to impart the process, there is simply no way I can be in numerous places simultaneously. The Core process is patterned after Jesus’ model of relational discipleship. You do not need to be a theologian or pastor to launch the process. I recommend the following:

1. If you are in leadership, take a few weeks and prayerfully consider those who have your heart and a heart for evangelism/discipleship (your most spiritually mature men/women) – do this quietly without fanfare. If you are not in leadership but want to launch the Core Discipleship process, I would strongly suggest that you first visit with your church leadership and share with them your vision and the Core web site and resources. With their approval, you can then begin seeking after those you will call out for your first Core discipleship group.

2. Once you’ve determined your potential candidates, carefully review the publication entitled Core Discipleship. I would then suggest that you personally invite those few individuals to a vision casting time together – you present the Core Discipleship process and invite them to join you in your Core Group launch (all of this is presented in Core Discipleship). Give them a couple weeks to mull this over with instruction to get back to you with their decision. Once you have their commitment, you can provide appropriate materials to each person, set a date for your first Core meeting and begin.

3. I am available to help you along the way if you have questions. The experiences I have gleaned over the years in the Core process may be a blessing as you launch your group. My greatest desire is to see Jesus exalted, the Great Commission fulfilled, and lives transformed; to that end, I am committed to helping you with a successful Core launch and the establishment of your Core Discipleship process.

I stand ready to serve you in whatever ways our Father directs. If that means my coming to your church, so be it. If it means launching your Core Discipleship as I have just outlined, so be it. Regardless, you have my heart and I am here to serve.

If you have questions, please email me: disciple at corediscipleship.com (replace at with @)

Who casts the vision for Core Discipleship?
The senior pastor must guide the Core Discipleship vision. Other leaders can help, but the vision and overall leadership belong to the lead pastor. From experience we have learned that no matter who introduces the Core Discipleship ministry into a church, that ministry will only go as far as the Senior Pastor’s vision for it – sheep follow the shepherd.

I encourage church leaders to actually lead a Core group, or at least be in a Core Group. This promotes the idea that the senior pastor is on board with the vision, sends a message that he is transparent with those in his group, and is not “super spiritual.” He, too, is one of the sheep.

The strength of a Core Group resides in safety, transparency, mutual submission, accountability and being Spirit-led. The following aspects should be maintained:

  • regularity (weekly Core gatherings are the norm and should be maintained)
  • available (Core meets where people are – restaurants, offices, home – where others see and hear God working in the Core)
  • discipleship (discipleship is a priority; the goal of the Core should be to make disciples who can then make disciples)
  • community (people desperately long for close interpersonal relationships and Core groups offer close community)
  • spiritual growth (Core groups offer pastoral care and spiritual growth unlike anything available in either the crowd or cell levels)

Making the transition from a traditional church model means not allowing other programs to dominate the church schedule. Although you may have other ministries, ask the people involved in those additional ministries to intentionally participate in Core Discipleship. In this way, discipleship becomes intentional.

l lead a Core. Can I launch another Core Group?
Because the very nature of Core is spiritual parenting, I would suggest you not oversee more than 2 Core Groups at any one time – it would be like having up to six children of various age levels in your home. Some instructors can easily disciple one person while others can easily train six. It depends on how you’re spirit-wired! We’ve released instructors who remain in their original Core Group and launch another (Core becomes a band of brothers or sisters for life). We’ve also had Core instructors who learn the process, launch one Core and then see the need for another. The great thing about Core is that once you have two or more Core Groups, you can then bounce ideas, questions, concerns, leadership techniques, and countless other things off the other instructors. Some of the richest and most profound training tips have come from released Core instructors.

I’ve had people ask me how they can join a Core Group. What do I tell them?
Core members are hand-selected and called out by Core instructors after much prayer, meditation, and counsel. In fact, once a Core Group is formed, the instructor is taught to begin asking each Core member to pray for two converts and their disciple. Core follows the same process of selecting individuals for potential Core members as Jesus did (Luke 6:12,13). One of the foundational keys of the Core process is found in 2 Timothy 2:2: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men, who will be able to teach others.” The word “trust” here is used by the Apostle Paul as a commercial term. For instance, a bank guards money entrusted to it. Similarly, Core instructors are to entrust spiritual teaching to those who will keep it safe and who have the same heart to repeat the very process again. How do we know who is worthy of such trust? Paul tells us to look for faithful men. The Greek word for faithful is pistos: those who are believing, loyal, reliable, steadfast. Additionally, I would look for candidates who have your heart and especially those who are obedient to God’s Word, loving, and who bear fruit – have a heart for reaching the lost and committed to discipleship (John 8:31,32; 13:35; 15:8). Core Discipleship takes seriously the call to biblical discipleship. God wants us to commit ourselves to making disciples, but only to those who will be true to the sacred trust that is given as the Word is accurately taught, preserved and transmitted. Just as is true in natural parenting, spiritual parenting in the Core is a lifetime of adventure and the adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy!

I’m learning that nearly everything about Core is spiritual. Is there anything as a Core discipler that I can use to help translate these spiritual issues into something more within my experience level?
We must remember that the first institution God created was the family. I’ve learned that most every issue in life, church, and Core can be answered when I ask, “Now what situation or event in my family life is this like and how would/should I handle it?” You’ll be surprised at how close natural family principles parallel spiritual realities and provide insight into spiritual realities.

How important are the five major Scriptures, the “handshake” of Core to the success of a Core Group?
The Great Commandment (Mth. 22:37-40), Great Commission (Mth. 28:19,20), Acts 2:42, Eph. 4:11-13 and 2 Tim. 2:2 are the ‘handshake’ of Core. These five Scriptures are very important to the Core and will help keep the focus, mission, vision, and purpose alive and fresh each time the Group gathers. I think that every couple of months you should ask one of the Group to recite any or all five and challenge the members to not only memorize but to fully embrace the significance of each of these passages and God’s intended purpose for the Core.

My Group isn’t contacting each other during the week. Help!
Let me be straight forward, if you are not contacting your group members during the week, they will certainly not contact you. In other words, what you seed is what you reap. I’ve made it a practice to call each of the Core members at least once each week. My purpose is entirely because I love them and sincerely care about what’s going on in their lives. It helps to schedule a specific day and time to contact each member and like the Nike ads tell us, “Just do it.”

I’ve been released to launch a Core Group and I’m really nervous. Any advise?
You’re in good hands and with the right heart. All of us are concerned at first, but remember that the basis of what Core is all about is relational discipleship. Heavy emphasis on relational and discipleship. You’ll find that unlike the relationships in the crowd or cell, you’ll become very close to those in your Core. These precious brothers and sisters have been hand-selected, prayed over, and chosen first by God and then by the Core. Pray. Ask God to guide you. Embrace a spirit of humility. Being Spirit led is simply being in the right place at the right time talking to the right person with the right Word. You’ll do fine because the Core Network serves not only as a safety net, but that the entire team is first submitted to Christ Jesus as Head and operating beneath the biblical authority and permission of your Church.

When do you know when to release someone into Core leadership?
The spiritual life assessment tool in the Core manual will help you decide because it’s all about character and leadership traits (the same criteria for eldership/leadership in the church). Secondly, you have the added benefit of taking each and every major issue, concern, and especially the possibility of releasing someone into leadership before the counsel of other released Core Group leadership and church leadership to help you in making your decision. You’re not alone! Additionally, I would never release anyone until they have proven faithful (2 Tim. 2:2). That does not mean that they have everything all together, otherwise, none of us – including the Apostles – would ever be released. I can’t begin to tell you how vitally important it is to prayerfully and carefully consider each person and to make sure that they are observing all that Jesus commanded. Character and faithfulness are paramount to the release of a disciple as an instructor – they must see Jesus’ vision and greatly desire to see the fulfillment of the Great Commandment through the Great Commission from a pure heart.

What is the single largest challenge you’ve faced as an instructor?
Remembering that this is God’s process and that He is faithful to complete what He’s begun. I’ve also discovered that it’s very easy to give my heart to some of these guys because of the safety net, confidence, and friendship we develop. This is good and not so good. I must remember that Jesus gave His heart to no one except the Father – and though He gave His life for us – His disciples – He never, ever gave His deepest heart to any living human. Why? We’re human and we make mistakes! My counsel to you is to go deep with your members, but never lose sight of the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Your job as a Core instructor is to ‘make disciples’ and in the process, we sometimes lose sight of the ‘big picture.’

Our group members are at three levels of spiritual maturity. At what level should I teach?
Stay the course using the Core Discipleship process, but don’t go any deeper than the spiritually ‘young adult’ in the Group (your spiritually middle son or daughter). You should also be spending considerable time with all the Group members throughout the week outside the Group meeting. It is then that you can meet each person at their appropriate levels of maturity.

I have one member who does not seem to be moving forward. What do I do?
In a word, forbear. However, at each three-month period, I think it’s a good idea to ask everyone if they want to continue or bail. If someone decides that Core is not for them, bless them, let them go, and begin praying for your new member.

Our instructor is leaving. What do we do?
Get with the remaining Core Group instructors and church leadership. Pray. Remember, a Core Group instructor must be someone released by a Core instructor. Don’t rush the process even if your existing Core continues for several weeks without an instructor.

We have people in our church wanting to join a Core, but we don’t have released instructors. What do we do?
Wait until you have released instructors.

We’re really excited about the Core Process. Is it OK to announce that we’re launching a Core network from the pulpit before we have instructors?
I would advise against it unless you are considering a FasTrak launch. Reason being that once you do, you’ll have people waiting in line with no instructors to disciple them. Best way is to start quietly and build a network first. Then, as you have instructors, invite people to come on board.

I’ve just released a member and he’s now launching another Core. Should he ask for my counsel before he launches his Core Group?
If you have done your job as a disciple-maker, he should have been reporting his discipleship progress all along. Once two instructors are in full operation, every major decision should involve them. As you continue to multiply, you’ll discover a tremendous safety net in the multitude of like-minded counsel. And always, always, always, your senior church leadership should be kept abreast of major decisions – beforehand, not after the fact.

It seems that our instructor “lords it over” us. Is this the way Core Groups are supposed to be?
No. Get with your church senior leadership and Core Team Leader in your church and seek counsel.

How can I get my group to complete the studies?
Depending on how long this has been going on, remind everyone of the handshake of Core. If the problem persists, you’re seeing a character flaw – either in you or them – and you will need to consider why this is taking place. Get with your leadership and discuss.

Our group seems to have difficulty memorizing the Scriptures. Should I hold them accountable?
Yes, but with love, grace and patience. Remember, one of the Core values is devoted to spending time in God’s Word and we must encourage the members to commit to memorizing key scriptures. This will pay out in great dividends when they need it the most.

I have a lot of people wanting to get into a group but not many leaders. How do I get started?
You might consider the FasTrak launch. This workshop is intensive and runs each week for 12 consecutive weeks.

What are the chances that Core groups will take off when my senior pastor isn’t sold on the idea?
The chances are not very good if your senior pastor or church leadership are not on board. However, with approval, you might start one group and the fruit will serve as living testimony.

How important is it to have a point person on staff who is devoted only to the Core group development?
Over time, it will become important to have a point person devoted to Core group development. If it is a staff person who wears other “hats”, then they should be allowed to invest at least 50% of their time in Core group development, particularly identifying and developing Core instructors.

How do Core groups work if we also have Sunday School?
Many Sunday School-based models begin by incorporating Core groups within their class structure. They cut back on the teaching time a little bit and add more time for prayer, sharing, and discussion. Eventually, they seek to identify leaders in these classes and then birth Core groups out of it. The key thing is to give people a good experience while in the class, so that they hunger for more community outside the class.

What do you mean by a “church of Core groups”?
A church of Core groups is one committed to having people in the church experience Core group community, regardless of what ministry they are a part of or where they serve. It means having a church that is intentional about discipleship and gets it done through the vehicle of Core groups.

At what point do I need to have coaches?
When an instructor releases someone else as a new Core instructor, he or she is now their coach. A coach should have no more three instructors (this forms another triad – the basis of Core); basically, the ratio is one to three. So for every three Core group leaders, it’s great to have a coach who encourages, loves, prays for and supports them.

What does a coach do and who does he/she report to?
Basically a coach is there to love and support leaders they have released, helping them identify resources for their groups, helping them problem-solve issues in their Core groups, and connecting them to the ministry and vision of the church.

Is there a difference between a Core Group, a small group or an accountability group?
Though a Core Group does have similarities to a home or cell group, it is not a “smaller, small group” or an “accountability group.” A Core Group is smaller, more intimate, gender specific, and more to the heart than most home groups, cell groups, or Sunday school classes and provides a “platform” for even deeper discussion and interaction, discipleship and evangelism. Also, I do not recommend one-on-one discipleship programs (read Greg Ogden’s article on Making Disciples). Many base these type ministries on 2 Timothy 2:2. However, the passage simply refers to the type folks we should look for to begin the training process.

Is Core Group Ministries a parachurch ministry?
Core Discipleship is a biblically-based discipleship outreach existing to assist individuals, ministries, and churches fulfill the Great Commission. Core Discipleship is a faith-based ministry, born in the church, field-tested, and used around the world.

Are Core Groups gender specific?
Core Groups are gender specific, while most home groups are made up of mixed genders. As anyone knows, there are far too many personal matters that simply should not be shared with others of the opposite sex in any group, small or large. Core maintains 3 and no more than 4 people of the same gender.

What tools do you use in Core Groups?
Core Groups travel light. We use the Bible and free resources available from Core. The Core Group Manual is a simple, easy-to-use ‘roadmap’ any church of any size or in any location can use to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. You don’t have to be a theologian or a pastor to start a Core Group – just someone who is obedient, loving, and fruitful and who has a willingness to launch into the deep.

Why do you call Core Groups a band of brothers and sisters?
Discipling is best accomplished in the relational context of Christian believers helping one another grow and mature in a Core Group setting, just as Jesus discipled the band of 12 and the inner circle of 3 (Peter, James and John).

Why did you choose the name Core Discipleship Groups?
Back in 1989, with a group of three men from Scottsdale Bible Church, I first experienced the life of a “core group” – three guys who wanted to get real before God and each other. Since then, I have been trying to fine-tune the process in a simple, inductive process. In 2002, while working on an illustration for a discipleship workbook, the idea of Core Discipleship was born. In 2003, under the oversight of New River Fellowship where I was an elder and Core Discipleship minister, I launched the first dedicated Core group with three guys willing to take a leap of faith. Since then, churches around the globe are using the Core Discipleship process. A Core Group is the name used to describe the Core discipleship groups that meet weekly. We participate in studying God’s Word, worshipping and praying together, along with finding and extending the support necessary to grow toward maturity in Christ. Core provides for a time to build equality, deep and caring friendships, men with men and women with women. Core is a place to be loved, accepted, and to extend Christ’s forgiveness to one another. Core Groups are patterned after the life of Jesus and are designed to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who can then make disciples.

There seems to be a lot of discipleship programs available. What’s different about Core Group?
Core is spiritual parenting where a “father or mother” in the faith intentionally, relationally, and spiritually births and nurtures “sons or daughters” in the faith until Christ is formed in them. They, in turn, are equipped and released to repeat the process. The actual process involves the developing and maintaining of lifelong relationships, knowledge, character, conduct and application of God’s Word, focused prayer, and mutual accountability.

How can we pray for you?
Wisdom. Discernment. Courage. Core Discipleship is a radical process and ministry and could provide for one of the most exciting next waves for the Church we’ve seen in recent Church history. Our enemy has seen this same kind of unity, fellowship, community, and kinship before (Acts). He hates it and us. Pray for God’s continued coverage and will. Remember that it’s all about God and seeing His Kingdom come!

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