Moving to the next generation of small group discipleship certainly accelerates speed, but there’s something else even more important. You can hardly watch any screen without receiving the ubiquitous message about 5G technology. Every mobile phone company and manufacturer touts 5G. Every device down to your Wi-Fi enabled toothbrush talks about being part of the Internet-of-Things, IoT, revolution that needs 5G’s voracious speeds. And with $2.7 trillion already spent on 5G deployment, the pressure to migrate to 5G is only going to get greater.
What is 5G technology?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networking. It is a new kind of network to connect virtually everyone and everything including people, phones, watches, cars, workout equipment, where you left your keys.
5G is over 10 times faster than the current networks. For example, a two-hour movie downloads in about six minutes on current technology, compared to 3.6 seconds on 5G.
Faster seems like it’s the nature of progress and technology. It’s like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, “I feel the need for speed.” Faster computers, faster Wi-Fi, faster everything.
Faster Small Group Discipleship?
But when it comes to small group discipleship, should we be pressing “the pedal to the metal” to accelerate? We think the only possible answer is yes, and it comes from Jesus himself.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
This is not a suggestion, it’s a straight-forward command that we are to be actively pursuing and achieving. Our priority starts with “going” coupled with “making disciples” through small groups. Making disciples is not a second-tier, lower priority. It is something that we are to be actively committed to each and every day. We are to “disciple” with energy, efficiency, and all possible speed.
To do anything less, to pass off small group disciple making to a subcommittee, to something less than our core motivation is to turn our backs on the One we say we worship. To not disciple via small groups is to turn our attentions and affections away from Jesus, our God and Savior, and bow to another, lesser god.
Yes, we need to accelerate:
· Making small group discipleship opportunities available.
· Deep small group discipleship and commitments required.
· Opportunities for people to “stretch their wings” and fly.
· Encouragement for discipleship attempts and success.
· Recovery from failure and “getting back up on the horse.”
So, let’s agree that we need accelerated 5G Small Group Discipleship. But there is one aspect about 5G that we haven’t talked about.
5G Small Group Discipleship “Range”
You’re probably thinking that with the march of technology and progress, not only are 5G speeds 10 times faster, but the towers can be 10 times farther apart. Sorry to disappoint, but with 5G, towers move from a range of 10 miles down to about 1,000 feet, or 2% of the current 4G range. So, it will require between 5,000 to 20,000 5G towers just to cover Manhattan.
You can look at this range limitation as a curse or a blessing. We choose blessing because reducing the distance moves you closer. With mobile communication, closer always translates into reduced power requirements and dropped calls. With 5G Small Group Discipleship, closer also moves responsibility, accountability, and decision-making close to where the people and problems are.
Isn’t this what the Apostles did?
Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
From a small group discipleship standpoint, closer is always better.
· Greater communication
· Greater sharing
· Greater intimacy
· Greater transparency
· Greater accountability
· Greater emotional and physical efficiency
Slow, the New Fast
But faster does not always equate to better. Just like there has been significant planning and investment in 5G deployment, there needs to be significant investment in 5G Small Group Discipleship. And not just in money.
We need to be willing to make significant relational investments. And this takes time. There is no substitute for going deep through relationships that are paired with life experience and accountability.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.
As Jesus discipled Peter, they spent lots of time together. Jesus provided opportunities for faith and life to collide, letting Peter try out his faith “legs” in the stormy waters of life. Jesus was also there to catch Peter as distraction lead to fear, followed by sinking. This was immediately followed by additional discipleship training, correction, encouragement, and other faith-stretching experiences.
5G Small Group Discipleship Conclusions
To reach the world for Jesus, to fulfill his Great Commission, we need to accelerate small group disciple-making with greater resources and decision-making at the point of contact. 5G Small Group Discipleship will look different from traditional, legacy models.
· It will be the top priority of the church, not just expressed in mission statements and committee reports, but from the pulpit, in web site placement and emphasis, in assigned resources.
· Every staff and leadership person will be in the process of being discipled and discipling with accountability.
· Small group discipleship will be seen as something to aspire to, the natural pathway to spiritual maturity and leadership both as a Christian and within the church.
· But while accelerating small group discipleship speed and opportunities, there will be a natural pace to deepen relationships and accountability.
Yes, we truly do need a next-generation approach to disciple-making. We definitely need 5G Small Group Discipleship.
This article on small group discipleship originally appeared here, and is used by permission.
Chet Gladkowski the Founder of GLAD Associates, Inc. and is the author of “Have Yourself a Merry COVID-Christmas.”