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Disciple-Making Movement: The Heart of Small Groups

disciple making movement

My concepts of how to do small groups, evangelism, and discipleship, keeps changing with each new thing I learn. I thought I knew a lot about these things. I’ve been a pastor, small group writer, and small group consultant for 30 years. I even did my Ph.D. research on what makes groups grow. But recently my paradigms of small groups, evangelism and discipleship were shattered. And now I am in learning mode all over again, experimenting with a new approach to take things to a whole new level. What am I talking about? The next big thing in small groups… and discipleship… and evangelism is the disciple making movement (DMM).

The disciple making movement is new way of reaching the unreached, making disciples, and mobilizing leaders that is built around a simple, yet powerful way of doing small groups. It is sweeping around the world, and actually the United States is late to the game. Yet, as churches here start to work with it, it is proving to be a powerful and practical approach with incredible potential.

I say it’s new, but in reality it’s built around simple principles found in Jesus’ ministry. Disciple-making movements involve more than small groups, but at the heart of them is a simple way of doing groups with obedience-based discipleship at its core.

How do you do a DMM small group? First, you find one or several people who are hungry for God. They don’t need to know Jesus yet. In fact, it’s wonderful if they don’t. When you meet you use a simple format that has responding to the Bible in obedience at its core.

The Disciple Making Movement Format

1. Opening Questions

  • What are you thankful for this week? (This question helps teach seekers or those new to Christ how to worship and pray.)
  • What is a challenge you are facing? Is there some way our group can help? (This guides people into caring community.)

2. Accountability Questions

  • With whom did you share last week’s learnings?
  • How did it go with your “I will’s”? (An “I will” is a person’s statement of how they will obey a Bible passage.)

3. Bible Discovery

  • What does it say? (Read the passage several times, perhaps in different translations.)
  • How would I say that? (Each person tries to retell the passage or Bible story in their own words.)
  • What must I do to obey what I have learned? “I will…” (Each person crafts a statement tell how they will personally obey the passage this week.)

Optional Questions to Use if You Have Time

  • What does the passage or story say about humanity?
  • What does it say about God?

4. Outreach

  • With whom will you share what you learned this week?

That’s it! Just focus on the Bible in a way that you can retell and obey it. The big adjustment for current groups is that we are used to discussing and learning, but not acting immediately on what we learned! Somehow, in my past groups and perhaps yours, just learning new things made us feel like we were growing and going somewhere spiritually. But the risen Jesus instructed us: “Make disciples… teaching them to *obey* everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) TOO often we learn but do nothing, deceiving ourselves into thinking we are growing spiritually (James 1:22). But we aren’t growing, we are just getting spiritually fat!

The disciple making movemnt Discovery Group method cuts to the chase. It moves quickly from what the passage says to how we will obey it.

Also, the disciple making movement is simplicity itself: the way it integrates evangelism and discipleship empowers people to replicate it and start their own groups, turning motivated learners into leaders.

As I said, there’s  more to DMM than its small group methodology. I’ll share some of the other elements in later posts. Right now, what questions do you have about leading a Discovery small group? Who else has begun doing this? What are you learning? If you want to learn more, download this report. To start experimenting with leading a Discovery Group, here’s a simple handout with the questions I outlined above.


This article on the Disciple Making Movement format for small groups originally appeared here, and is used by permission.