Small group leadership is all about discipleship. The small group or home group is the best place to multiply disciples to reach the kingdom for Christ. It is small enough to give individual attention, but provide many opportunities for individuals to rise up and practice discipling roles of hosting, greeting, facilitating and follow-up.
There are four key elements to discipleship. First, discipleship demands a biblical foundation. Anything else is sinking sand. God’s Word must be the priority and the foundation for all discussion and action. Secondly, discipleship requires intentional discipleship. Disciples (or leadership) must be intentional if we are going to train 80% of the congregation to be spiritual parents. Thirdly, discipleship must have a relational environment. Discipleship is not merely academics. Discipleship is not book knowledge. Discipleship is about people, who are at all stages of spiritual growth. And fourthly, discipleship must have a reproducible process. Without a reproducible process, discipleship remains a vision on a piece of paper that catches attention, but doesn’t impact hearts.
So if discipleship is built on a biblical foundation, should you not use as much Scripture as possible? That question requires an affirmative answer, however, in any particular home group, only certain Scriptures should be used. Let me explain.
First, Scripture should always be used as the foundation upon which everything else rests (Matt. 7:24-27). The Matthew passage is the man who built his house on a rock. The rock is the Word (words of Christ). It is the standard upon which everything can be measured (Gal. 6:16). It leads disciples to an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 17:14-17). It equips them for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16).
Secondly, Scripture declares the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33). Yet, while Scripture is absolutely essential, the brain can only absorb so much Scripture at one time until it is put into practice and becomes a part of life. Paul writes, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9 NKJ)
Yet there are several cautions every disciple-maker should consider. First, every leader must decide if that particular meeting will give an overview or dissected use of Scripture. The more dissected Scripture becomes the less in amount of Scripture a person will be able to absorb. Broad overviews tend to paint a big picture and a larger amount of Scripture can be covered. If you dig down into the “tense, voice and mood” of the verbs, you will need to consider how much the students/disciples can absorb. After a certain point, the brain becomes full and most Scripture after that point washes over the surface of the head and must be presented again.
Secondly, too much Scripture will cause people to get lost. People, who attend home group, want to learn. Hence, they will concentrate and absorb as much as they can. Some are like a Bounty paper towels and others are like a single-ply toilet paper. Yet, because people are thinking about the passage, trying to understand it and even apply it to their life, too much Scripture given in too short a time will cause people to become lost. When disciples are lost, it takes longer to regroup and absorb again.
Thirdly, Scripture is not given to you in order to impress others. We all want people to think highly of ourselves as teachers and leaders. One of the greatest of accolades is having people think you know Scripture. You can be tempted to think you are spiritually holy by giving vast amounts of verses. Scripture is not for you, but for exalting the Lord Jesus Christ and helping others in their relationship with Him. Consider how much the disciple can handle.
Fourthly, what Scripture you use must be held in highest esteem. When I began pastoring, I provided many great principles to people, expecting them to write down every principle and then go home and pour over their notes. I was fooling myself. I was using the Bible like a machine gun, hoping to impress people with all my great study and expenditure of biblical ammunition. I was impressing very few people and helping even less. Consequently, it would be better to use less Scripture and dig into it, than just spout off Scripture after Scripture that supports your premise or principle.
These are just a few thoughts on leading a small group and the consideration of how much Scripture should be used. You can provide additional Scripture on a half-sheet for high speed low drag disciples (those who are hungering and thirsting for more Bible study materials and spiritually growing free from worldly distractions), but to just read verse after verse will need to be reconsidered for what the recipient can absorb.