Christians are to be disciple-making disciples and pastors are to be trainers. During the first half of this year, 2012, we have trained over fifty men to lead Growth Groups this fall. All of those men will not be able to participate, but we have a solid group of men who are ready and willing to lead.
Below is information that will give many details about Growth Groups. The first groups will begin the first week in October. Read the information below and send any questions or thoughts to Pastor Dave.
559-435-0190dave (at) riverpark dot org@PstrDave
About Growth Groups
A Growth Group is a place where Christians can grow. It is also a catalyst for the growth of the gospel. It prepares leaders to gather together fellow believers in evangelistic efforts. It will equip leaders to grow Christians and to grow the gospel. It is disciple-making based on the authority of God’s Word.
What are the goals of a Growth Group?
- To receive Christ as Lord, which means personally knowing and trusting Christ (all that He is, and all that He has done). When we do this we delight in God and His glory.
- To live with Christ as Lord, which means remaining faithful – rejecting other lords and their religions and submitting to Christ in every sphere of life because we treasure Him above all else.
What happens at a Growth Group?
- Prayer – It is the natural disposition of children delighting in their Father. It is the cry of utter dependence on God for salvation and growth.
- Learning God’s Word – God has revealed His will for His people, for their salvation and godly living. In Growth Groups, we learn God’s Word through Christ-centered Bible study and we encourage each other to obey it and declare His Word as the very authority of God.
- Proclaiming God’s Word – Those who have received God’s mercy in His Son want all the world to know. Christianity is contagious. It spreads through Christians telling others the Good News of God’s grace in Christ. This is a key ingredient in the disciple-making process.
How is a Growth Group unique to other groups?
Growth Groups provide a strong foundation for evangelism. When Christians meet together in Bible study and prayer, evangelism should be a natural outcome because we discover that at the heart of God is the salvation of the world. One of the advantages of Growth Groups is their simplicity. Any Christian can get started if they have a vision for studying the Bible and praying with other Christians, resulting in an evangelistic passion. At the heart of Growth Groups is the mandate to make disciple-making disciples who treasure Christ above all things for the glory of God. These groups are a great way to be able to involve yourself in a very tangible way in a Great Commission lifestyle of making disciples.
Evangelism needs to be spelled out as the purpose of the group in its very “constitution.” Along with Christian growth, gospel growth should be at the heart of any Christian gathering. Bible study, prayer, and evangelistic effort are the three basic activities of a Growth Group, but if evangelism is just tacked on as an afterthought, it won’t happen.
It is so easy for Christian groups to become highly introverted, focusing on their own needs. Growth Groups can’t afford to be introverted. It is contrary to their very nature. God uses the Gospel to create a group of believers by drawing the group’s members to Christ and to each other. How can they NOT become a vehicle for communicating this message to the world by making disciples?
Common Concerns About Growth Group Ministries
Some people have concerns that Growth Groups might be:
- Anti-preaching – On the contrary, Growth Groups ought to generate a thirst for good preaching, because they develop a hunger for God’s Word as they love its authority in their life.
- Anti-the minister – Although there are some small group movements that are in competition with congregational pastors, Growth Groups actually focus on getting everyone involved in doing the work of the ministry in order to free some time for pastors to declare God’s glory.
- Anti-the church – If the closeness of community in small groups is prized above the total congregational life, there is a problem. On the other hand, Growth Groups pull together to make the whole church more fruitful as the bride is sanctified and the Bridegroom is treasured.
Who Can Lead a Growth Group?
Growth Group leaders come from a pool of men who have been through the Growth Group training. We have been training leaders to become expositional discussion leaders who:
- Understand the passage
- Apply the passage
- Work out teaching goals
- Package the study so that the discussion heads toward the main point of the passage
The Growth Group leader is NOT a facilitator. He is a teacher who humbly studies to teach God’s Word with clarity and with authority. Every Growth Group certainly has a leader, but each group will be discipling a co-leader. Not only will the co-leader help provide guidance for the current group, but he will also be preparing to lead when the time comes for the group to multiply into a second group. Therefore, leadership training is an essential and exciting part of the disciple-making process.
Questions & Answers
“I notice an emphasis on evangelism. What if that terrifies me?”
That actually qualifies you for Great Commission work. The apostle Paul said that he came in weakness, fear and much trembling. Every evangelist has fear. Having said that, part of the beauty of working with a group in evangelism is that the individual can serve the evangelism process in the areas where God has gifted them. “Fear not!”
“How are the Growth Groups formed?”
In a perfect world Growth Groups would consist of people living in the same zip code with a mixture of younger, middle-aged, and older folks, married and unmarried. The reality is that groups will be formed in a plethora of ways.
“Am I required to stay in the same Growth Group?”
The assumption will be that the Growth Groups will stay together until it is time to multiply a second group. As much as we would prefer people bonding and working through relationship issues in love, we wouldn’t prevent a move to another group.
“If I have an unsaved friend, is it okay to bring them to the Growth Group?”
If we are aiming to spread the gospel through the group, why not invite non-Christians to join it? The group will certainly need to work out a game plan, but the gospel being lived out in believers is powerful.
“Is the church trying to get everyone involved in a Growth Group?”
No! The elders have a passionate desire that folks at Riverpark Bible Church are living lives in obedience to the command of Christ to make disciples. If you are already doing that, please do not feel compelled to add another thing to your busy calendar.
“What if I already have a small group?”
It is always good to evaluate the “good things” that take up our time to see if they line up with Great Commission thinking. You might decide that your current group is heading in the right direction or you may decide that there are some ways that your current group could make some changes. In all we do our focus should be to make disciples that treasure Him.
“Are there any plans to do away with the flocks?”
There is no plan to “do away” with any of the ministries at Riverpark. Growth Groups are simply a new option for involvement.
“I’m just too busy! What if I want to be in a Growth Group but I just don’t have time?”
There will certainly be some tough choices along the way. Life-style evaluation is healthy and vital.
“How often will the Growth Groups meet?”
Growth Groups will meet weekly for 8 weeks out of each 13-week quarter and they will gather on various days of the week. They will convene for a fall, winter and spring quarter. Each new session will provide an entry-point for new folks to connect with believers.
“Why should I invest in Growth Groups?”
If you can learn to lead or be a meaningful part of a Growth Group, you will have great opportunities to use this tool to make disciple-makers for the rest of your life.