How Do You Undermine A Disciple Making Movement?

If you are a pastor reading this blog post, you would love to have reproducing, disciple makers in your congregation. Even better, you would love to see a culture where the expectation and practice is that a maturing Christian is one who makes disciples as a lifestyle and you are experiencing the momentum of disciple makers reproducing to the fourth generation. If this were the case the forward movement would be off the charts. I know, I have seen it and felt it. People now leading disciple making groups after being participants move to a new different level of ownership and passion. It takes time and sustained focus to get this place. But most churches never get here because of two fatal errors: You try to move too fast: By far the number one reason disciple making movements don’t even get off the ground is attempting to move too fast. I can’t count how many times I watched pastors catch the transformative power of a micro groups only to shoot themselves in the foot by tryi

Pastors in Kenya with Ralph Rittenhouse Sept. 24, 2022

No matter where you are in the world, being disciples who make disciples is our calling as we reflect the image of Christ! Become who you were created to be as you multiply wherever you live.

Discipleship Essentials in 29 Languages


Roadblocks to Jesus-Style Disciple Making

Can you relate to what you did not understand until you began the journey to make disciples who make disciples, becoming the person that Jesus recreates you to be! This really helps to clarify the obstacles and misconceptions. What do you think? " Jesus Himself is the treasure and the pearl of great value. We only take possession of Him when we realize His beauty and worth, and the beauty and worth of imitating and obeying Him, and then follow through on that belief with our actions.  But in order to do so, we must face the reality that the cultural Christianity and Easy Believeism that has permeated our churches has created serious roadblocks that we must be aware of, and face honestly and boldly if we want to see a disciple making movement in our culture. " Six Roadblocks to Jesus-style Disciple Making -

Bridge Builders


Discipleship Essentials Leader's Guide

The  Discipleship Essentials book does have a Leader's Guide at the back to help you identify how to invite and to lead a micro group.  There is no answer key.  The instructional design of the book is more of a discovery learning model where the questions first draw out what participants think, perceive, or have experienced. (It's ok to leave some answers blank if anyone is not ready to respond!)  Then the reading that follows often clarifies the questions that were asked. In other words, this is more of an inductive rather than deductive methodology. Reviewing and reframing through relationships and reading Scripture is more motivating than merely answering questions.  The focus is not "just another Bible Study program." The emphasis is on transformation of our lifestyles to become more like Christ in all our ways--integrated to fulfill The Great Commandment to "Love the LORD with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength."  In ad

Discovery Not Dictation

Why are the micro-groups we talk about in GDI so effective for accelerating authentic spiritual growth? For twenty-five years as a pastor, I depended on dictation. I studied hard all week, and then stood on the platform on Sunday to excitedly share what I had learned from God's Word. I provided note-taking outlines in the worship program to assist sincere learner's.  After more than two decades of this, we took a congregational survey to determine how much of fundamental orthodox doctrine the congregants really understood. I was shocked! Not only was there still great confusion, but things they did seem to understand couldn't be intelligibly articulated or shared with someone else. I remember the Sunday I stood before the congregation and told them; if you have to make the choice to come to hear me preach, or go to your discipleship quad...go to your quad. I knew they would learn much more from the ninety minutes of preparation and ninety minutes of interaction with their

How do micro groups implement Jesus’ relational model?

  How do micro groups implement Jesus’ relational model? When Jesus instructed us to “go and make disciples”, He did not leave us wondering how. Jesus modeled this principally by growing disciples formed in a relational setting. A strategic moment occurred in His ministry when Jesus formally gathered His inner circle around him. A approximately six months into his public ministry Jesus called the twelve to “be with him.” (Luke 6:12-13; Mark 3:13) How important was this decision? How vital was it to accomplishing Jesus’ mission? Luke signals the importance by telling us that Jesus spent all night in prayer. The next day he brought together a group which included twelve who had been following Him. “And when day came, he called his disciples, and chose twelve of them, whom he named apostles…” (Luke 6:13).   What was Jesus trying to accomplish by giving himself to this smaller band? At the time of Jesus’ selection of his leadership team, he was in the thralls of public adulation. But J

What qualities come together in a micro group to create an ideal transformative environment?

  What qualities come together in a micro group to create an ideal transformative environment? At GDI, we like to say that micro groups are “hot houses of the Holy Spirit”. What does that mean? In other words, just like a “greenhouse”, the environmental conditions are just right for accelerated growth into Christlikeness and multiplication of disciples. What are those environmental conditions? 1. Relational Transparency: A major reason the groups are kept to 3 or 4 (triads/quads) is to develop an atmosphere of self-revealing trust. Here is the principle: The extent to which we are willing to reveal to others the areas of our life that need God’s transforming touch is the extent to which we are inviting the Holy Spirit to make us new. The seed of God’s word can only take root in tilled soil. The tilled soil (our openness) creates cracks and crevices in our hearts. It is these cracks and crevices that reveal our areas of needed transformation. As we articulate the awareness of our b

What are the critical elements for a success disciple making journey?

  What are the critical elements for a success disciple making journey?  As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What does it take to complete a successful journey? As pictured above, the success journey is to grow a movement of “disciples who make disciples?” A movement implies that a culture has formed in your church or ministry where there is momentum and energy because the value of making reproducing disciples has become a way of life. I am not talking theory, I have witnessed it firsthand.  There are three critical elements for a successful journey: 1. Vehicle (Relational Environment): To travel you need a vehicle, which is the relational environment. We keep the groups small (3s &4s) because the most important element in the relational environment is transparency and openness built upon radical trust. Transformation through the power of God’s word occurs when we lay our lives out before God and each other and apply truth to our growing edge. Without ap

Reflections on Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Part 2 "Lead Out of Weakness and Vulnerability"

  Reflections on Emotionally Healthy Discipleship by Peter Scazzero  Part 2:  Chapter 9: “Lead Out of Weakness and Vulnerability” In reflecting on the elements of transformation in the environment of the micro group, we (GDI) have stressed that an open, honest transparency is a required. Why? It is only are we apply the truth of God’s word to where we actually live that it can change us. A major reason to keep the groups small (3s and 4s) is so that a non-condemning, grace-filled atmosphere of unshockable trust can form.  Peter Scazzero reinforces this truth in Chapter 9 of Emotionally Healthy Discipleship , “Lead Out of Weakness and Vulnerability”.  What a breath of fresh air! We can actually live out of our brokenness before a God who embraces us as prodigals who admit that we “have sinned against heaven and before you, and are no longer worthy to be called your son (daughter).” As soon we cast ourselves at Jesus’ feet, he showers us with repeated kisses. King David had come to

Where do micro groups fit in the larger picture of church ministry?

  Where do micro groups fit in the larger picture of church ministry? This could certainly be listed in the category of the top 5 questions we get at GDI. The question also comes in another form: What role do traditional small groups have in a church that wants to move toward micro groups? The best way to answer this question is to show how different spaces can and should co-exist together. Joseph Myers first popularized the concept of making room or seeing the value of spaces in his book Search to Belong and is expounded on in Bobby Harrington’s Discipleship that Fits . I will describe the spaces in thumbnail fashion in this shorter blog.  The four spaces are public, social, personal and transparent or intimate. Public Space (50+): In the church public space is associated with the gathered community in worship. A person identifies with a group and considers themselves associated at some level. If asked, “Where do you go to church?”, a person would give a specific community, no mat

How Do You Begin a Reproducing Disciple Making Movement? One Group at a Time.

How Do You Begin a Reproducing Disciple Making Movement? One Group at a Time.  There is an old Chinese saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with  a single step ".  I am often asked, “How can I grow a disciple making movement in my ministry/church?” My answer: start one micro group. Why do I go there? Behind the question is an attitude. How can I grow disciples fast? How can spread the infection of disciple making to get immediate results?  My answer can be initially deflating. The question most likely is coming from someone who is seeing the wisdom of what can happen in a micro group for accelerating transformation and multiplication. How can we get a lot of these groups going simultaneously? One of the common mistakes to growing disciples is that we want to take shortcuts. Let’s announce a new program. You all sign up for this new small group container called micro groups. Adopt this curriculum. Within a year we will have hundreds of participants.  My advice to past

Reflections on Emotionally Healthy Discipleship by Peter Scazzero, Part 1

  Reflections on Emotionally Healthy Discipleship by Peter Scazzero Part 1 Chapter 6: “Discover the Treasures Buried in Grief and Loss”  Peter Scazzero has for some time been pointing out a massive gap in what it means to become whole or mature in Christ. He says that we have been denying our emotions to our detriment.  In some circles this denial has been conscious and intentional. You might recall a train illustration with three cars: fact, faith, feeling.  It was taught that the important thing was to put your cognitive trust in the truths of Scripture and then let feeling be a by-product (the caboose). Yet, this formula often came with an asterisk. The reason feelings are last is that you can’t trust them. They will lead you astray. All kinds of heresies and distortions have been formulated because we let feelings rule. As the critique goes, subjective Christianity creates the seedbed for false teaching and prophets. They rely on impressions and ecstasies.  Now, of course, there i

What is the difference between a small group and a micro group?

What is the difference between micro group and a small group?  Let me contrast the difference between a small group and a micro group by first giving the general characteristics of a small group. Small groups can range in size from 6 to 20 people, if you include a house church within this frame. The basic purpose is to provide a safe step into becoming more personal and vulnerable within a subset of a congregation. This is a place where you tell your own journey of faith and hear others.  They are many varieties of small group which includes couples, singles, widows, divorced, etc. Any mix of the above is possible. The motivation to a part of a small group is usually a combination of a desire to belong and to gain some group insight and application of Scripture. The Scriptures are processed through interactive questions. The “leader” acts as a facilitator drawing out people’s observations. Most often minimal preparation is required. Show up and engage. There is a caring component whe

What is a Micro Group? Why Micro Groups?

 What is a Micro Group? Why Micro Groups What is a micro group? A micro group is 3-4 people invited by a facilitator (group leader) to grow toward maturity into Christlikeness (be a disciple), while being equipped to replicate this intentional, relational process for others (become a disciple maker). These groups generally meet weekly for 90 minutes. The members come together prepared to share their insights and application having interacted with a biblically based, disciple making tool. As a sign of their commitment to a mutual discipline, the participants submit to a shared covenant. A part of that covenant from the beginning is that the participants will "give serious consideration" to have their own micro group following the completion of their current one, thus helping to foster a disciple making movement. We call these groups, "hot-housed of the Holy Spirit" because we witness accelerated growth and multiplication of disciple and disciple makers. Why micro gro

Why Scripture Memory Might be the Most Important Spiritual Discipline

  Why Scripture Memory Might Be the Most Important Spiritual Discipline Dallas Willard was asked the question, "What do you consider the most important spiritual disicpline?" John Ortberg overheard this question at a conference and was waiting eagerly for his reply. Would it be contemplative prayer, fasting, extended periods of silence, etc? Answer: Bible memorization. Willard says in Renovation of the Heart, "The most obvious thing we can do is to draw certain portions of Scripture into our minds and make them a part of the permanent fixtures of our thought." The apostle Paul locates transformation into Christlikeness in the renewal of our minds. (Romans 12:2). I confess I am a "johnny-come-lately" when it comes to memorizing longer portions of Scripture. I started to apply myself to this task a few years ago. I can confirm from personal experience what Willard affirms. When we occupy our minds with the truths of Scripture we are, of course, driving out

Ralph Rittenhouse

 Who is Ralph Rittenhouse? Ralph Rittenhouse was the pastor of Camarillo Community Church for 32 years. Find out how a church can become a disciple-making church and learn the process and develop realistic expectations for a timeline. 

Love Your Enemies

 Love Your Enemies In one micro group that I am in, using The Essential Commandment  by Dr. Greg Ogden as the tool, we focused on Romans 12:20-21.  "Instead, if your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads. Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."  We meet on Zoom each month across more than 3000 miles. What always continues to amaze me after over 10 years of being in micro groups is the awareness of new concepts. Some of us researched the origin of "heaping burning coals of shame" and others brought up boundaries in Chapter 11. Within 24 hours, two other resources I watched reinforced the principles, commands, and concepts we had reviewed. When God repeats, He gets my attention! Andy Stanley explains how some repay good for evil; others want revenge by repaying evil for evil; and yet others are remarkable by repaying good for evil.

Greg Ogden

 Who is Greg Ogden? Greg Ogden  is “retired” or better yet “redeployed” (as of March, 2012) from professional church leadership. He now lives out his passion of speaking, teaching, and writing about the disciple-making mission of the church. Most recently Greg served as Executive Pastor of Discipleship at Christ Church of Oak Brook, IL. in the Chicago western suburbs. From 1998-2002, Greg held the position of Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller Theological Seminary and Associate Professor of Lay Equipping and Discipleship. Prior to coming to Fuller, Greg enjoyed 24 years in pastoral ministry. He is the author of six books:  Essential Guide to Becoming a Disciple  (Intervarsity Press, 2016);  Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time  (Intervarsity Press, 2016);  The Essential Commandment: A Guide to Loving God and Others  (InterVarsity Press, 2011);  Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ  (InterVarsity Press, 2007);  Leaders