“Come & Follow Me”
…marks Jesus’ second training tier to prepare His people to partner in life and ministry. “Follow Me!”
As His people, we are caught up with Him in His epic adventure of exploration and discovery to restore His lost world of people to intimacy with the Father.
His people have the awesome privilege to partner with Him in His unchanging plan for the ages…before we fully understand. Our little stories now have eternal meaning because they are lived out within His Big Story. His unfinished mission defines our call as individuals and together as local faith-communities. It’s staggering that the same God who spoke the entire universe into existence desires to partner with me as one of His intimate allies.
DiscipleMaking like Jesus is not a cookie-cutter operation. Jesus built enough flexibility and adaptability into His 3-fold training strategy, so disciples may flourish with any skill set in every culture in any generation, like new wineskins.
So, gather your SmallGroup together around Jesus to decide what’s next after these last five weeks together.
The best way I have seen to make disciples is Jesus’ strategy from His Source. In interactive SmallGroups of 3-5, become active learners from our Master and put truth into practice through the three powerful pathways of discipleship. No right or wrong to approach this exists, if we get directly in Scripture by partnering with the Spirit of “wisdom ad revelation.”
“Follow Me” – A Big-picture Model for Healthy Learning
Since growing as a follower of Jesus is not an “one size fits all” approach, I will suggest a number of resources. But first a broad, flexible approach for every generation from the 1st century to the 21st century. I’ve found this fruitful and adaptable to modify over the years. It’s very user friendly so each group is unique. It’s also adaptable enough so that each follower of Jesus can pursue this over their lifetime.
Regarding the process of studying God’s Word, I could catalog the zigs and zags in my personal journey. I began with simply reading Scripture repeatedly and then swung to overly complicated Bible study methods. Instead though, I’ll simply let you know the results after fifty years of following Jesus and being in SmallGroups.
Then you can personally discover your own zigs and zags as you modify!
At least three closely interrelated aspects are crucial. Content. Process. Culture. At first, I focused on content then on process (how to study). More recently I began to realize how crucial culture is to healthy learning, change and growth since God designed us in the image of the original Community-of-Three.
Since all I write points us directly to Scripture (content), the learning culture we sow may perhaps be the most crucial variable. Success begets success. Many today have a negative view of learning, so I want quick-hits change that bring early growth. At first I sow these four motivations for adult learners informally, then later teach them as a package after they have experienced a bit of their power.
- Relevance: Demonstrating value by relating learning to life. A desire to find meaning is fundamental to humanity. Adult learners in particular dislike busywork. Adults need to know the reason for learning. This is why we emphasize putting truth into action to encounter life. DO God’s word. You won’t remain unchanged for long. You’ll discover how relevant God’s Word is to the most essential facts of your life.
- Competence: Experiencing growing competence in learning skills. God designed humanity as His image-bearers to have purpose, to explore, perceive, evaluate, think about and change our surroundings to promote positive effects. Success cultivates expectancy for continued success. This is why we “flip” learning to ask each to prepare before group, initially through rapid and repeated reading, a natural way to learn.
- Belonging: Connecting with each other accelerates learning. God fashioned us for community because He is Creating a culture in which both the learners and teachers feel respected by and connected with one another accelerates learning. Mutual cooperation develops a natural give-&-take in transforming power in community.
- Positive Attitude: Nurturing positive attitudes towards learning. Our attitude predisposes us in a certain direction, positively or negatively. Learn in a way that releases enjoyment and even fun together in the process.
“Come & Follow Me”
A Number of Suggestions on Material Content
I design curriculum with this flexible, adaptable, interactive style of learning in mind to more naturally reproduce. Now for me, curriculum is not what’s most crucial in DiscipleMaking. Material acts like the walls on a bumper car track. The walls keep the cars moving within certain broad boundaries although the bumper cars have a great range of choices in how each drives.
“Jesus intended for the disciples to produce his likeness in and through the church being gathered out of the world. Thus his ministry in the Spirit would be duplicated many-fold by his ministry in the lives of his disciples. Through them and others like them it would continue to expand in an ever enlarging [circle.] By this strategy the conquest of the world was only a matter of time and their faithfulness to his plan”
(Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, p. 97.)
How will we know when our SmallGroup is ready to move on from “Come & See Me” to “Come & Follow Me”? Check in often with the Master-Discipler.
It’s fine to stay for a while longer to focus on your felt needs and seek answers to basic questions. However, I’m still exploring and discovering answers after 40+ years. “Come & See Me” is a necessary gathering spot, but a poor long-term resting place. When you are ready to give it away to others, here area few ideas of some books I’ve written for this purpose (all available on Amazon.com for a low price).
- If your small group comes out of a religious background and struggles with law-keeping that blocks our extensive freedom in Christ, I compiled key Bible chapters that will help explore this theme in more detail for fifteen weeks. Jesus Sows a Culture of Freedom lays a solid foundation built on freedom in Christ as our culture.
- I wrote an 8-part series (5-6 weeks each) called DiscipleMaking Companion that functions as your Companion through key books of the Bible Each also has an essential topic applicable for every follower of Jesus. Each acts as a “cultural architect,” laying out a flexible “blueprint” to aid the group with a clear process for building a community of doers of God’s Love-Letter. I would suggest Philippians Joy Overflowing, Word & Spirit (the first one), then Ephesians 1-3, Your Identity in Christ. Then decide whether to move together through the next six now or swing back later.
Context is king as we study.
We learn best when we have a larger framework on which to hang the details we learn. Perhaps your group is ready for these next two Big-picture, rapid reading suggestions before swinging back to finish the DiscipleMaking Companion series. Decide in your SmallGroup with your Master-Teacher, Jesus. Both of these provide a larger context for our lifelong study and doing.
- 90-Day Engagement with the New Testament is a rapid read. This guides the group through the NT by reading 2-4 chapters a day. This may be a bit of a stretch as we sharpen the skill of rapid reading. If you commute, perhaps substitute for part of your “reading” active listening to the Bible on your phone (com, free) or on CD’s. The group dynamic and interaction help motivate as we do this together.
- The next suggestion also provides a Big-picture framework. 13 OT Biographies + Proverbs guides you through an extended reading of the historical section of the Old Testament. For our gathered time, we then focus on one defining event in each of the lives of these heroes of the faith. Again, the reading is 2-4 chapters per day, but the discipline of this for the 3-month study stretches us beyond where we may go on our own.
It may take a year to work through these.
Jesus was not in a rush to train His disciples since He trained them well, so follow His example. Decide together with Jesus what’s next.
“We should not expect a great number to begin with, nor should we desire it. The best work is always done with a few. Better to give a year [to a few] who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime…just keeping the program going. Nor does it matter how small or inauspicious the beginning may be; what counts is that those to whom we do give priority in our life learn to give it away. [The tipping point] in all these instructions was that the mission of his disciples was not different in principle or method from his own. He began by giving them his own authority and power to do his work (Mark 6:7; Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1), and he closed by assuring them that what they were doing was as though he was doing it himself” (Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism.)
Vision for the Future to “Be with Me”
Please view your SmallGroup as a launching pad to multiply, rather than your permanent landing spot (Matthew 28:18-20).
Then perhaps your SmallGroup might sense Jesus’ nudge to launch out to DiscipleMaking by multiplying other groups of 3-5. Perhaps two may eventually join together to multiply disciples through SmallGroups and some may launch their own SmallGroup. Begin now to keep your eyes open and foster those relationships, so you also reproduce Jesus’ strategy for life. Each group will look different, so don’t seek to reproduce the exact experience. Jesus has a unique experience for your group flowing from the same Source within the same flexible strategy.
Ask advice from your Master Discipler, Jesus!
This ground swell of growth began slowly with Jesus’ disciples since exponential growth begins slowly. It’s the Kingdom math of exponential multiplication to which Jesus has also called us (3 become 9, and 9 become 27, 27 become 81, multiplying to the 4th generation, 2 Timothy 2:2.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Paul passed the baton on to Timothy, Tim to faithful followers of Jesus who pass it on to others, four generations.
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men and I will soon give you 10,000 more (Oscar Hammerstein in New Moon).
Go on to the cascading webpage “Come & Be with Me” when your group is ready to move on, individually or as a group.
What are you investing your life into?