Growth Groups Questionnaire
This tool, based on Neil Cole’s Life Transformation Groups, is designed to facilitate a one on one/one on two discipleship process. As with LTG’s, participants gather for one hour per week to ask and answer the accountability questions. At the meeting they agree upon a passage of Scripture to read on their own through the week. Unlike LTG’s, Growth Groups require participants to make weekly commitments to pray, join Christ in his mission and to obey his Word through Scripture. Because of this dynamic approach, we needed a means to update commitments on a weekly basis. So, we created this online form. Give it a try and see where it grows.
I am a planter of simple churches who also pastors a conventional church. “How does that work?”, you ask. Check out this quote from Steve Smith in the book T4T: A Discipleship Re-revolution:
Giving groups the freedom, even the empowerment, to become new churches takes the limit off the budding movement. You could view yourself as the pastor of a large church. If you are a pastor, how much better to view yourself as a pastor of pastors and your church as a training base for a movement! Take the shackles off. This is what we mean by the counter-intuitive ways of the kingdom!
This accurately describes what we’ve been attempting to do. I love that the Holy Spirit can speak to lots of people at once! Our job is to make disciples. It’s everything. So we could be described as a D-church (“D” for discipleship). In order for our members to make disciples we must equip them and release them from tending shop here so they can get out where wanderers live and hang out. They must be “unshackled.” So, I guess you could say that we are D-church Unshackled!
Two years into my stint as a children’s minister for a medium-large church, I found myself in our prayer room crying out to God for answers and relief.
My question to him: “Why is this so heavy?”
His answer: “It’s consumerism.”
Next I asked him, “How can we combat consumerism? It’s everywhere.”
He replied, “It’s the general fund.”
He showed me how undesignated giving gives birth to an entity which vies for its own survival to the detriment of the goals God has for the church. The institution becomes a codependent parasite draining the vitality from the body of Christ.
“Is it even possible to do church without a general fund?” I asked.
Then he proceded to show me how Christians could meet in smaller numbers. Because the groups would be smaller there would be no need to build or rent meeting spaces. They could be led by proven people who could develop and endorse more leaders. These leaders could live on faith, support themselves, or do a combination. Minus a staff and facilities, the need for a general fund would dissipate. Without a bottom line to maintain, leaders would be released from the pressure to please and placate and be liberated to lovingly confront. Appeals to give could be heard as “Give to them.” rather than “Give to me.” People could be challenged toward real generosity out of compassion rather than minimal giving out of rote obligation. In short, we could quit “doing church” and start making disciples.
This vision haunted me for four years until I finally gave in and quit. After three months of uncertainty, God brought me to serve with another church. So what’s the difference? Our elders have embraced the preeminence of making disciples. We’ve acknowledged the danger of survival thinking and we’re moving forward to make disciples rather than maintain programs.
We have a building. I draw a salary. We have a general fund. But we’re launching groups and developing leaders which have none of these things. We’re getting as lean as we can to make way for these groups to be born and multiply. We don’t want any group we plant or resource to send money back to the mother ship. This approach will probably affect our organizational bottom line but that’s okay because our eyes are on God’s bottom line – more people becoming more like Christ.
The gospel is a seed which takes root in the hearts of individuals and bears fruit through redeemed relationships. Having borne fruit it, must then spread into the soil of other hearts and so The Growth Wheel continues to turn. In this way, healthy disciples of Christ are produced and reproduced spreading the knowledge of God in the face of Christ throughout the world. Coming August 24th -26th, our church will host Neil Cole and Phil Helfer as they lead the Greenhouse Intensive Training Weekend in Springdale Arkansas. This training will provide ordinary Christ followers with basic skills to begin making disciples right where they are. Individual online registration ends August 19th.
For more information on Organic Church or on the Springdale Greenhouse Intensive Training Weekend, check out this radio interview with Neil Cole-