Church: 3-Strand Discipleship Process
Making disciples does not refer to some formal structured program intended only for the super-spiritual. It is God’s imperative for every believer in His church. It involves the initiation and the instruction of every believer into an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. It seeks to make every person a follower of Christ.
Strand 1: Crowd
Size: 50+ people; typically large gathering
Population: Mixed gender
Purpose: To bring about a change in knowledge
Strand 2: Cells (Life, Home, or Small Groups)
Size: 5-16 people; typically in homes
Population: Mixed gender usually
Purpose: To bring about behavioral change; conduct
Strand 3: Core Groups
Size: 3 or 4 people
Population: Same gender
Purpose: To bring about a change of direction, heart and position; knowledge, character and conduct
Focus: Commitment/discipleship – intentional, relational, reproducible
Core Groups specifically embrace the Great Commandment and the Great Commission by focusing on the imperative to make disciples found in the Great Commission as they are taught to “…observe all that I commanded you”(Mth. 28:20). This is accomplished as we build life-long relationships in the context of safe and confidential groups of no more than four disciples, men with men and women with women. Core Groups are not accountability groups or smaller, small groups. Core Groups develop students and adults who commit their lives to Jesus Christ and are willing to follow Him as presented in the pages of God’s Word. From the very beginning, Core members are held accountable to begin praying for two to come to Christ and for someone they are called to disciple.
5 Core Key Values
There are 5 key values emphasized within a Core Group: Matthew 22:37-40 (Great Commandment); Matthew 28:19-20 (Great Commission); Acts 2:42;Ephesians 4:11-16, and 2 Timothy 2:2.
- Love: Great Commandment – Matthew 22:37-40
The first foundational value of a Core Group is the pursuit of the Great Commandment – our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with others.
- Christ-likeness: Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20
The second foundational value is the pursuit of Christ-likeness as we observe the Great Commission. It is our desire to be genuinely conformed to the character of Jesus. We believe God’s vision for man is to make us in the image of Christ (Gen. 1:26; Rom. 8:29). We believe that all spiritual progress is the result of God’s grace. We believe that humility is the pathway to Christ-likeness. In seeking to truly become like Christ, we remember His command to, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
- Devoted: Acts 2:42
The third foundational value of Core is a commitment to the four fundamental devotions of His Church as recorded in Acts 2:42: devoted to God’s Word, fellowship, communion, and prayer. It is learning to be a doer of the Word.
- Equipped: Ephesians 4:11-16
A Core Group outfits the saints for the work of ministry – the privilege and enterprise of each member of the body of Christ.
- Faithful: 2 Timothy 2:2
A Core Group is facilitated by a more spiritually mature person who prayerfully selects others whose faithfulness and gift have been evidenced (‘faithful men, teach’) as presented by Jesus (Luke 6:12,13) and by Paul (2 Timothy 2:2): “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Discipleship is “spiritual parenting” … a life-long process and those prayerfully selected are those we will invest a significant portion of our lives.
Discipleship And The Great Commission
From Matthew 28:19-20 we learn: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (bold mine).
The Great Commission has three participles: “go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” and one imperative verb, a command: “make disciples.” The main idea is to make disciples. The participles tell us how to do that: we make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. So the goal of a Core Discipleship Group is to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
Teaching is the process of getting a person to know Him in a life-long, deeper, and more intimate way. Scripture is an absolute essential element in the process of Holy Spirit-inspired, transformation of knowledge, conduct, and character. Discipleship is the corporate responsibility of the church. Discipleship is a life-long process, beginning at the point of salvation, and participated in by a variety of individuals within the church, each as the Lord directs, from his or her own unique gift set and way.
The last phrase of Matthew 28:20 contains an incredible promise: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In context, this verse is primarily talking about making disciples. What Jesus is saying is that when we make disciples according to His plan and process, He will be with us. When Jesus sees a disciple making church, He gets involved there. When He sees disciples going out to make new disciples, then baptizing and teaching them, He is very present. According to Romans 12:1-2; Romans 8:29, God wants disciples to be conformed to Christ’s image, and according to His Commission, He promises to help us make disciples to accomplish His plan.
Next: Core Discipleship Sequence