Your Small Group Needs These Three Elements To Deepen The Spiritual Maturity Of Your People


There are three necessary components to the Disciple Making Process that work together to bring about spiritual maturity in people’s lives.

1. The Word of God

Without the Word of God, a small group would be nothing more than a social gathering. There is nothing wrong with a social gathering, but they can’t be used to develop a disciple making church. We have seen small groups that focus on ‘hot topics’ or ‘important life lessons’. Some of the lessons are Bible centered, but many are more aligned with humanism or self-help philosophies than with the Word of God. We have also seen groups that get together to share struggles and pray. More often than not, they don’t get down to much praying, and they tend to do a lot of affirming without much direction from God’s Word.

Because we are prone to wander from the truth ( 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ) a small group should be committed to regular Bible study and should root out any attempts at life change in careful application of the study. Bibles must be opened, read, studied, and learned from. It is impossible to overstate the importance of getting into the Word of God for discipleship.

2. The Spirit of God

The power to change our lives does not come from us. I’ve seen churches that promote the dangerous idea that if we just grit our teeth and try harder to clean ourselves up, then all will be well. The ‘try harder’ concept is something we can all fall into if we are not careful, but it eventually leads to a cycle of failure, guilt, and separation from God. The Spirit of God is the one who ultimately does the work of God in our lives. ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 )

We do have a hand, however, in the transformation process. Christ invites us to remain in him as he is pruning us to be even more effective and bear more spiritual fruit. Our will and our decision-making capability clearly factor into the equation. The Bible calls us to cooperate with God as the Holy Spirit works in our lives ( 2 Peter 1:5-7) Yet even though we are involved in the process, the Spirit of God does the work of transforming us.

This means that individuals as well as those who lead small groups must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t invite people to join a small group because we think we have something special to offer them. The power to change doesn’t come from the group itself. But the group is a biblical relational environment used by God to be the means by which his Spirit brings lasting transformation to people’s lives.

3. The People of God

So how do people change? How do we grow as disciples of Jesus? What is it that changes us? It’s the Word of God and Spirit of God working together with the people of God. If you carefully study the Scriptures you will find that almost every instruction in the Bible contains either a vertical directive or a horizontal directive. As Jesus said to his disciples, all of the Law and the Prophets can be summed up in the simple directive to love God and love others.

This means we cannot separate relationships from the disciple making process. Our interactions with other people are one of the means God uses to teach us truth. Relationships in the body of Christ are where we learn from others what a mature Christian life looks like.

Love is the ultimate sign of true discipleship ( John 13:34-35 ). Learning to love others is a huge component of the disciple-making process. If we aren’t intentionally striving to get along with other people, we are not growing in this area; we are not becoming spiritually mature, despite the amount of biblical information we may have acquired. It’s as simple as that.

God has built us with a relational need, and we can grow only as we engage in relationships with other believers. Failure to grow in this way leads to an unsatisfying form of Christianity, and unsatisfied Christians won’t fight the spiritual fight as they should and are certainly not attractive to the lost. In order to be disciples who make disciples, we must be relationally connected with others. We need to be encouraged and challenged by others who will help us grow to maturity as followers of Christ.

DiscipleShift bookThe above is taken from:


by Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Coleman.

To read more about this topic, order the book DiscipleShift.

Also, check out our  DiscipleShift1 training page for more info, dates and locations.