The mission of the church, the people of God, is to develop fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. Our life’s passion should be to see people saved from sin, discipled in the Word, and then sent out to the nations in order to repeat that same process with others. The Discipleship Pathway is a practical, simple process for accomplishing this.
There are four components to the Discipleship Pathway:
1. THE CONGREGATION
Every believer should be involved in a large gathering of believers that meets regularly to worship alongside their church body to hear the Word of God preached. In Hebrews 10:24–25 we are instructed to “watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Participating in a worship gathering is often the first step someone will take in their Christian life.
2. THE COMMUNITY
After the large worship gathering, the next step believers should take is toward a smaller community of believers beside whom they can live life. Frequently, community groups, or life groups, meet in one another’s homes on a weekly basis, share a meal together, rejoice, pray together, and devote themselves to studying the Word of God. Acts 2:42 outlines community: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.”
3. THE CORE
Out of the fishing pond of the Community group comes the Core, or D-Group. A D-Group is a gender-specific group of three to five men or women who meet together for intentional spiritual growth and accountability, with the expectation of replicating themselves after a period of time. The format is intimate, which encourages accountability, leading to spiritual maturity.
4. THE CROWD
Discipleship is not meant to be self-contained. Disciples must be sent into the world to make more disciples. So we must always engage the world, or the Crowd, to demonstrate to them the love and the power of God, that they might be made into disciple-makers.
The Pathway hinges on the Core, or the D-Group. Discipleship is the direct response to Jesus’s final words to the people in whom he invested in during his time on earth: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Discipleship is a process whereby believers grow more deeply and more securely in their faith as they pursue Christ and invest in others.
What separates a D-Group from a traditional Bible study is the intentionality with which they mature. Discipleship is a lifestyle and a commitment. These are a few areas that should be focused on in a D-Group:
The bedrock of spiritual growth is the Word of God. The sum of God’s Word is truth (Ps 119:160); it is capable of judging the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12); it equips us to teach, rebuke, correct, and train other believers (2Tm 3:16–17); it will endure forever (Is 40:8). If we want to know the God of the Word, we must know the Word of God. The Bible is the primary text for a D-Group. From time to time, supplemental books (like doctrinal teaching, apologetics, etc.) can be added, but never at the expense of studying the Word together.
Someone who loves the Lord will love his Word—and will hide it in his heart so that he might not sin against him (Ps 119:11). Scripture encourages us to commit God’s Word to memory. He commanded the Israelites in Joshua 1:8 to not let it “depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” We have to get into the Word until the Word gets into us.
Hold One Another Accountable
As you meet together, you will find natural avenues for holding one another accountable, both in your struggles with personal sin and in your personal pursuits of Jesus. A D-Group is the perfect avenue for confessing sin and helping others remain focused on the task of becoming fully devoted followers of Christ.
The ultimate goal of a D-Group is not to keep what you learned for yourself, but to repeat what you’ve learned to others. Remember, the gospel came to you because it was headed to someone else. As disciples continue making disciples, the number of people impacted increases exponentially throughout the years. The goal of the group is for the mentee to become the mentor—for the player becomes the coach.
Holman Bible Publishers. 2017. CSB Disciple’s Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.