The ministry philosophy of home groups is built on four ingredients: Biblical Foundation, Relational Environment, Intentional Discipleship and Reproducible Process. Home groups may multiply if there are both a Biblical Foundation and a Relational Environment, but they multiply best when there is Intentional Discipleship. Even Jesus was intentional when He was working with the disciples. Note the following Biblical principles for why discipleship should be intentional and not just accidental.
Jesus was Intentional in His Discipleship
When Jesus fed the five thousand, He was intentionally discipling his followers. John records His intentionality,
2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. (John 6:2-6 NKJ)
Jesus had a plan and it included testing His disciples. Some people would not like that. Why? Often it is because they do not want to be in the position of making a mistake. And yet, we often learn best by making mistakes. Jesus wasn’t just going through the motions and hoping things would work out well. He had a plan and He worked His plan.
The Leader must be Conscious of Where his People are Spiritually
The home group leader will have people at different stages of growth and must not ask a spiritual infant to facilitate the discussion next week. At the same time, the leader should not let a person who has been a Christian for ten years, not take any spiritual risks. Young adults must be given opportunities to lead, host, provide snacks and do follow up. The leader should have a plan – one that considers where people are spiritually. That also means leaders know that a person may fail, but that is part of the plan. Jesus did this with Peter,
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous1, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:28-31 NKJ)
Jesus knew Peter’s faith would fail, but that caused Peter to see where he needed to practice greater trust and the circumstance made him stronger for future opportunities.
The Leader must use Opportunities that Arise
The home group has opportunities that arise over time. There are opportunities in the home group like hosting, welcoming, leading prayer, providing treats and doing follow-up. There are also opportunities like church-wide events that give spiritual young adults opportunities to serve, gain confidence in leading and demonstrating faithfulness to ministry. For example, a home group could take a specific role at a Thanksgiving Dinner or Church Picnic and delegate responsibilities to those within the home group. That way as the group may grow, the tested spiritual young adult may be ready to team up with a more seasoned spiritual parent and co-lead a new home group. Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare the upper room for the Passover meal, because that was how Jesus could celebrate the Passover with His disciples (Luke 22:7-13).
The Leader Intentionally Works with All the People
The home group leader has an intentional plan that will encourage all of its members to grow spiritually. He creates that relational environment where disciples have confidence in taking risks, stepping out in faith and putting into practice Truth in order to lead others. Jesus worked with more than the twelve disciples. There were an additional seventy that were also following Him, so Jesus sent them out on a mission to give them practical experience and test them, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.” (Luke 10:1 NKJ) The home group leader doesn’t know who will remain faithful and who may fall away. That is why he always needs to be checking the periphery and working with additional people.
The leader’s goal is spiritual maturity in Christ
The home group leader’s goal is spiritual maturity in Christ for every member of the home group. In the back of the leader’s mind, he is thinking that every person has the capability to lead his/her own home group. Every person must grow spiritually in order to advance to spiritual maturity in Jesus and become a spiritual parent. Paul wrote,
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13 NKJ)
The home group leader must ask himself, “How is my plan reproducing disciples?” What are my intentions behind the plan? If a leader fails to plan, he is planning to fail. He also needs to ask himself, “Does my plan help reach 80% of the congregation to take over what I am doing?” If the plan will only reach 10%, then the plan is too restrictive and stringent. If the plan is designed for 100%, then it is probably too simplistic and must be made more challenging. The leader’s role is to disciple people who are committed to Jesus as Lord, committed to being changed by Him and committed to making disciples. When the leader has a plan of Intentional Discipleship, there will be a good production of disciple-making followers.