Congregation—Shepherding Groups— Triads
For us, discipleship happens in three areas: congregation, small groups, and triads (D.N.A Groups). It is important for us that we assemble as a congregation to prioritize the preaching and teaching of God’s word and to equip our members to joyfully advance the kingdom of God by making much of Jesus in the church, community, and home. We also recognize Jesus did much of his discipleship in groups of twelve and three. These smaller intimate settings provide a rich context for our members to grow in love, loyalty, trust, faithfulness, and generosity and spur one another along in pursuing a deeper relationship and walk with Christ.
We believe the purpose of the church is to gather together to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:12-16).
In our congregational discipleship, we are committed to faithfully preaching God’s inerrant and all-sufficient word, joyfully singing songs that teach us to acknowledge God’s sovereign goodness, confess our brokenness, rejoice in our redemption, and eagerly await our Lord’s return, fervently praying bible saturated, Christ-exalting, and missions-minded prayers, and serving one another in unity and love by encouraging, equipping, and admonishing each other in the faith.
Shepherd Groups (Small Groups)
We are still working out the details for our small group discipleship. In the Lord’s time, we hope the vision below will be implemented as an effective means of discipleship for our church family.
Our Shepherd Groups will meet in a home. Groups will range from 10-12 adults. They will meet every other week following a rotation schedule.
- The first meeting will be Heart Work. This is where the adults gather without kids for Discovering God’s truth and nurturing the soul. The kids will be dropped off with another group to be watched. During this time the shepherd facilitator will work through a book study or a portion of scripture seeking to help brothers and sister discover God redemptive solution for their broken condition.
- The second meeting will be Fellowship Time. The D.N.A Group will meet to enjoy each other over a meal for the sake of fellowship.
- The third meeting will be Kids Community. During this Sunday, the D.N.A Group will focus on family discipleship. The emphasis will be on helping parents disciple their children through Bible study, song, prayer, and missions.
- The fourth meeting is dedicated to Mission Outreach. Mission Out Reach is a time for the group to be evangelistically making much of Jesus in the neighborhood.
Shepherd facilitators will be trained at FBCL. Every quarter, we will hold a Shepherd group training session, each of which is devoted to a particular topic (see below). Once a year, there will be an overall vision for Shepherd groups at a special luncheon for leaders. Also, throughout the year, as we identify new leaders, we will begin the process of working them through our leadership pipeline. They will be under the oversight of the Senior Pastor and a deacon. They will meet monthly as a group with the senior pastor and deacon to discuss any conflict, ideas, or general issues.
D.N.A Groups will provide a more dynamic exchange of understanding and perspectives of God’s truth and work in the life of a believer. The group is small enough where each person can significantly contribute. A brother or sister being discipled in this manner will have two other believers who will bare their burdens in confidence and be praying for God to work on their behalf. D.N.A Groups will not compete with the church as a whole. These groups are an extension of the congregation, not a primary spiritual community. No group will operate apart from pastoral oversight or against the philosophy and vision of the church.
How does an individual join a D.N.A group?
There are two ways a person can join a D.N.A Group. First, during the discipleship portion of the new membership class, the pastor/teacher will ask if they want to join a group. We then identify an appropriate group, contact the group leader, and ask (if space is permitting) to invite the new member.
A second way to join a group is through a sign-up sheet on a designated men’s or women’s board. Every quarter we will offer opportunities for new groups to start or to rearrange existing groups. The pastoral staff will organize and facilitate the group accordingly.
How are D.N.A Groups structured?
D.N.A Groups will be groups of three gender-specific (men with men & women with women) who meet at an agreed location in the church, community, or home for 90 minutes. They will work the D.N.A process during their time together. There is no term limit to the group, and it can dissolve at any time. To dissolve a group, the leader will need to meet with pastoral staff to ensure there is no ongoing conflict or strife. The leader will facilitate the discussion and provide overall direction. The leader is held accountable by pastoral oversight.
What expectations do we have for leaders and members?
We expect the following of D.N.A leaders. They must
- Be members in good standing
- Regularly attend Sunday service and is dedicate to fellowship, evangelistic activity, and prayer life of the whole congregation;
- Be prepared to study and prepare content coordinated and approved by the pastor;
- Communicate regularly with the church office about pastoral issues;
- Be willing to create an open culture, and accept new members;
- Genuinely care for the group;
- Facilitate discipleship relationships;
- Attend quarterly training events
We expect the following from group members. They must
- Be a member in good standing (or in the process of joining);
- Not avoid whole church gatherings, using the D.N.A group as a substitute for church;
- Regularly attend and participate in the group.
How do we train D.N.A leaders?
Every quarter, we will hold a D.N.A group training session, each of which is devoted to a particular topic. The types of topics which would be covered include:
- How to lead an inductive Bible study,
- How to build community;
- How to facilitate discipleship relationships;
- How to lead a book study;
- Evangelism/ outreach/missions;
- How to raise up new leaders;
- Fruit to Root Heart Work.
Once a year, there will be an overall vision for D.N.A groups at a special luncheon for leaders. Also, throughout the year, as we identify new leaders, we will begin the process of working them through our leadership pipeline.
What about non-Christians and non-members?
As part of our evangelistic ministry, we will provide other opportunities for non-Christians. We will invite them to walk through the Gospel of Mark beside reading “Jesus The King” by Timothy Keller with 2-3 other church members. D.N.A Groups will be strictly for members of our congregation who have submitted themselves to live in covenant with each other and under the authority of pastoral leadership.
As the church grows, D.N.A Groups will become vitally important to ministry and pastoral care. It will be difficult for pastors to have an intimate knowledge of the burdens of every member and have the time to disciple them through all of it. In that regard, D.N.A group leaders will have the privilege to help facilitate and equip their brothers and sisters to apply the redemptive truths of the gospel to the broken condition of their hearts. They will do this by discovering the truth in God’s word, nurturing their souls through Spirit-led discipleship, and helping them act in obedience to what has been revealed by the Spirit. This small group of people will help the larger congregation be shepherded well and walk in the worthiness of the gospel.
 We are grateful to VI Marks Ministry and the people at Capital Hill Baptist church for their help in guiding our vision for discipleship. Much of this document is structured around their statement of small groups.
We are also grateful to SOMA Church for their creation of Discover Nurture Act Groups and how they minister to the body.