November 23, 2022

Coaching Groups that Grow Disciples
You see the same people at church doing the same things over and over again. They are faithful but they aren’t really becoming more like Jesus. How can you as a coach help Christians break out of a spiritual growth plateau? 

Written By Gary Reinecke

ICF Master Certified Coach, Resource Designer, Mission Strategist : InFocus
“Spiritual growth groups” can help established Christians grow into mature disciples who make disciples. These groups instill the DNA of disciple making into the group whether they are ministry teams, more traditional small groups or affinity groups.  The most effective groups steer away from a teaching format and instead embrace the key coaching principles of listening and asking good questions. Here’s what I mean:

A man who was recently divorced was in a small group I once led. He was still very much embedded in his friend group. As he took steps on his journey of faith, he eventually saw those relationships for what they were: some were life-giving, but others were not so much. One of the most difficult relationships he had was with his father. The role the small group took in his life was strategic: the group listened and asked relevant challenging questions, they helped him put skin to his faith, supported him when needed, and offered lots of loving care. Over time, this relationship greatly improved. His relationships with his children improved. 

While there are lots of group formats to follow, there is one that is commonly used in the Disciple Making Movements community which is conducive to a coach-approach. That means it helps people move from reflection to action by asking questions and listening for the Holy Spirit.

Three-Thirds Groups 

coaching groups for discipleship

A three-thirds group is just what it sounds like: a group format that’s structured into three segments. The format is designed in such a way that each group member is discovering more about God and themselves, growing in the process, and learning to make disciples.

1. Looking Back

This first segment gives group members the opportunity to provide care and support for one another based on what’s happening in their individual lives. It also provides accountability for the goals each person set for themselves. Looking back asks:

  • What are you thankful for?
  • In what ways have you experienced God’s love this week?
  • How are you struggling?
  • What is distracting you from what God is calling you to do?

2. Looking Up

This second segment directs the group to “look up” to the Holy Spirit for direction, guidance, and revelation for the group’s journey through a passage of Scripture. After reading a passage, Looking Up asks:

  • How  is the Spirit speaking to you in this passage?
  • What part do you find challenging or difficult to understand?
  • What can we learn from this about God? About ourselves?

3. Looking Forward

This last segment offers the opportunity to look ahead and explore how each person can apply what they have learned or discovered. Looking forward asks:

  • How are you going to apply this to your life this week?
  • With whom are you going to share what you’ve learned?

Reflection Questions for the groups you envision:

  1. What is the purpose of our groups?
  2. What is the fruit of our groups?
  3. How can we tweak or re-envision groups for more effective discipleship?
  4. Brainstorm some ideas that would make a difference in the next 3-6 months.
  5. What is a practical step we can take to move towards that?

We would love to hear from you: have you ever been part of a small group where you experienced major growth as a disciple? What did that look like?

Cover Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Photo by Kylie Lugo on Unsplash

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