How to Lead a Discipleship Group


  1. The AIM: The purpose of a discipleship group is twofold:
    1. To know God. Not just to know about God, but to really know God. There are a lot of opinions on who God is… We have to know God as He says He is, not just who we “think” He is or “want” Him to be or even who He is rumored to be in our culture. We need to know God as He says He is, in His Word.
    2. Creating an environment for disciples to process and learn to BE like Christ (character), and DO the things Christ did (competency)
  2. It is helpful to know some basic techniques for leading and facilitating, but the most important thing you can be doing now is praying for your discipleship group, for chemistry, for surrender, for God to be known. Be praying every week, before your groups meet - get there early and pray for 3-5 minutes for the time. This is the secret to leading a vibrant, fruitful discipleship group! You will have the best discussions if you pray!
    1. This is God’s work. These are God’s people... He knows what He’s doing in each individual life, you don’t; we just get to be faithful in our role that He has allowed us to have. So to be in prayer; asking God for His help and for His wisdom and discernment is the most effective way you can help and shepherd your discipleship groups. And it’s how you will see the most Spiritual fruit!


  1. What are some things to have in my “toolbox” to be prepared to lead my discipleship group?
    1. Invitation & Challenge
      1. Effective leadership is based upon an invitation to relationship and a challenge to change. Create a culture where there’s an appropriate mix of invitation and challenge. Draw disciples closer, love them (invitation) but also give them the opportunity to accept the responsibilities of discipleship (challenge)
    2. Lead with Vision
      1. Regularly communicate the mission & vision
    3. Know how to ask questions.
      1. By asking good questions a couple things happen.
        1. You help them to build confidence in knowing God and speaking about Him!
        2. You provide an environment for self discovery! Self discovery sticks, you remember what you share.
      2. What about when you ask a good question and it’s silent. What could be going on in your group?
        1. Processing the question
        2. Processing what God is teaching them and how to articulate that
        3. Be disciplined and fight the urge to answer the questions for your group.
      3. What happens when you wait for 15 seconds and then share your own experience to answer the question?
        1. Might stop the internal processing and what God is teaching them
        2. Limit others sharing
        3. You’re giving “the answer” so why should I share? My answer isn’t as good as that.
        4. Sometimes it is helpful to jump in and share your experience. It is okay to share once or twice in your group meetings.
        5. If the questions seems hard to answer, before sharing your answer try rewording the question to spur thoughts and sharing.
        6. Awkward silence is only awkward for you.
    4. Create an Environment
      1. Create an environment that is a safe place to be honest, but one of accountability, learning, encouragement, and challenge
      2. Be authentic and appropriately open, vulnerable, transparent and real to allow others to do so.
    5. Be a good listener.
      1. Group leaders are good facilitators of discussion
      2. What are ways that you feel heard or that someone has listened intently to you?
        1. Eye contact (not looking around at other people walking by, looking down at phone when it buzz’s)
        2. Nodding along
        3. Give a response after someone shares, “Thank you, Jake.” OR “That is a helpful reminder that God’s love is unconditional. Thanks for sharing that!”
        4. Use eye contact and their name.
        5. Celebrate their responses! Use enthusiasm!
    6. Know when to defer or move on. Remember your AIM. Don’t have discussion where it is not needed.
      1. A question comes up, how do you know if you should answer it?
        1. Is it something that would benefit the whole group?
        2. Does time allow for it or would it distract from the bigger picture?
        3. Is it central to understanding the Gospel?
      2. How about when something is said in the group that is totally wrong... they are sharing or answering a question that totally misses the point. When do you, as the group leader, correct it and how?
        1. Is it central to understanding the Gospel, if yes - correct it.
        2. Identify a “go-to person” Ask if they agree or “John, how would you answer that?”
      3. If it’s a rabbit trail and not central to the Gospel, and doesn’t benefit the group to talk about, what could you say to move on?
        1. “That’s an interesting question, Matt, in-light of time, let’s see if we have time to come back to that OR let’s talk about that more afterward.”
      4. A question comes up that I don’t know the answer to, what do I do?
        1. Don’t feel pressure to give the right answer or make one up because you are the group leader.
        2. Be willing to admit you don’t know the answer. “That’s a great question, I don’t know. I’ll look into it, you can do the same and let’s talk more at another time”
        3. Point them back to God’s Word and the character of God. “I don’t know the answer to your question, but I know this to be true about God because His Word says so”
    7. Pay attention for things to address one-on-one.
      1. Bits of their story... and follow up on the Gospel! Good time to circle back with someone if something was confusing in the group.
    8. Be intentional with the girls/guys in your group. They are your flock!
    9. Maintain confidentiality.
      1. When is an appropriate time to break confidentiality?
      2. Self harm, abuse and anytime you feel you are over your head a little bit. Find a mentor or local pastor.... if a local pastor or spiritual mentor is not available, feel free to contact the AIA Coaching Center for help.
    10. Encourage interaction
      1. There may be some in your group very comfortable talking about what they are learning about God, others you may need to draw out initially and help them build confidence in speaking about God. Facilitator keeps the time, pace and encourages interaction from all group members, kindly call on people. (Helps everyone to be involved and alert.) “Jordan, I would love to hear your thoughts on...”

Keep Going!
04: Invitation and Challenge to Disciple

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