What are Discipleship Groups (D-Groups)?
One year ago, Pastor Tim returned from his 10-week sabbatical. During this extended time away from FBP, his goal was to research and create a plan to increase discipleship within and among the body of this church. One of the methods he explored and implemented was discipleship groups, or D-Groups. Maybe you’ve heard of others talking about this, but perhaps this is your first time hearing about it. For the past year, around 30 men and women, young and old, have been meeting weekly in gender specific, small groups. They have each nearly read through the entire New Testament, reading 5 chapters each week. During the weekly meeting, they discuss what they’ve learned from the scriptures and what questions have arisen from them, recite their weekly verse, pray, and keep one another accountable. The ultimate goal for these groups is to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ and build community. At the end of the year (which is quickly approaching) each member of the group is exhorted and expected to begin their own group, thus replicating the D-Group experience for a new group of disciples.
Below, Kim Garrett shares about her experience as a member of a D Group.
The Means of “Laying Aside” – A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness Through Discipleship
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1b
“Says the author of Hebrews, let us rid ourselves of everything that weighs us down, keeps us back, or hinders us from a swift obedience to Christ.” – Sinclair Ferguson
Subtraction Through Adding
I was so eager when Janice asked me to participate in a Discipleship Group (D – Group), that I didn’t even ask about the length of this commitment…one year! A year…much longer than any Bible study or book club that I had been in. We would also meet more often (once a week) than any prayer group or prayer partnership that I’ve been in. To participate, I’ve had to “subtract” some things from my schedule in order to “add” D-Group. I don’t regret having to do this at all! Halfway through, I can say that it’s been life-changing! Here are some of the blessings and benefits of discipling one another week after week:
It is often said that in preparing to teach, we learn so much more than when we read for ourselves only. In my experience, in between those two is a helpful middle: reading to share. Knowing that Janice will be prepared to discuss some of what she has observed in the five chapters of our reading plan keeps me motivated. We are learning to see so much more of the endless treasures in scripture! Memorizing scripture each week also keeps us accountable to one another (and to the Lord!) as we meditate on God’s Word and recite it. We often reflect about how powerful Scripture is in transforming our perspectives and our hearts!
Discipline Through Laying Aside
I have asked the Lord many times to help me prioritize and manage my time well so that I can love Him, and love and serve the ones He’s entrusted to me. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer, or even a one-time solution for myself. Getting up earlier, deleting my Facebook account a few years ago and giving up Pinterest have helped, but my heart and mind are still so often prone to wander. Most evenings I delete my Instagram app before going to bed and don’t install it again until the next evening. This may not always be necessary, but I am often frustrated with my lack of self-control. As I continue to lay aside the weights that hinder, there are still many wise and spiritual ways to read my Bible and “building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 20-21). I have been in church all my life, but I hadn’t read through the entire Bible until a few years ago, and only persevered due to the accountability of my prayer partner, Mary. I was amazed by Scripture, but I was just barely getting through with a pace of four chapters a day. I was able to do that for a couple of years, but a year is a long commitment for me. I’d be gung-ho in January, and then I would hear John MacArthur say that to really learn scripture, we should read the same section over every day for a month. So I would do that, and then I would hear another plan or suggestion and switch to this new one before finishing the original plan. It was better than NOT reading scripture. But now, with D-Group, before I consider anything else, even another Bible study, my main priority is those five chapters that we will go over when we meet. This feels like such freedom to stay on the same path!
I like to listen to podcasts on my way to the office, but now I listen to sermons on the chapter that I have just read. I’m currently listening to the “Knowing Faith” podcast episodes that cover Acts. D-Group has prioritized my listening time as well as my reading/quiet time.
Encouragement of answered prayer
Every time we meet, we each share a couple of prayer requests and spend some time praying. The Lord has answered many of our prayer requests. I had been part of a couple of different small prayer groups in the past and had a couple of prayer partners at my former church. At FBP, I had prayed with Diane Shipley and other ladies, mostly a few weeks leading up to Women’s events, but nothing on a regular basis until D-Group. This is filling a need in my life. Also, I think the Lord is pleased when we meet together to pray and share our dependence on Him and thank Him for hearing and answering our prayers.
Our Motivation: the Lord’s Calling!“Christians are called to encourage one another and build one another up. They are called to instruct one another, to speak the truth to one another, to teach and admonish one another with the wisdom of Christ’s Word, and to stir up one another to love and good works,” writes David Helm in One-to-One Bible Reading. I think the Holy Spirit is doing all of this in us as we read the Bible and share and pray in our weekly Discipleship Group. If someone asks you to be involved in a D-Group, would you prayerfully consider joining?