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SKILLS Micro Groups

One of the concerns Franklin and Brent have regarding church ministry is the limited effectiveness many churches experience in their efforts to make disciples of those under their care. They find this particularly concerning with small group ministry, which they both believe in highly. There are many factors that go into why our efforts at discipling fall short, in spite of our hard work and intentions, but data and trends reveal three general reasons:

1

Modern Christianity often emphasizes individual experience over the needs of the church and its mission.

2

There is growing confusion about the balance between the interests of the individual and of society and the interests of God’s kingdom.

3

Church participation is viewed more as the means of survival during the week rather than the opportunity to learn how to be strategic and effective as a disciple.

However, there is a lot of hopefulness in modern church trends.  Many Christians, particularly among the younger generations, are yearning for authenticity in their church and faith experience.  As Franklin and Brent studied these trends they became interested in what could be found in scripture to give guidance for how to rethink discipleship instruction.  They were especially intrigued with a pattern they saw in Jesus’ ministry.  There were three levels to the organization of His followers.

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The Congregation

Equivalent to our modern congregations of faithful believers was the

body of disciples who followed Him.  At one point they numbered at

least 70, as that was how many He sent out in pairs to neighboring

villages to proclaim the nearness of God’s kingdom.  On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 followers in the upper room, waiting on what

God would do next after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into Heaven. 

Out of Jesus’ “congregation” of disciples, they chose Judas’ replacement.

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The Small Group

Did Jesus have a small group?  Yes.  Twelve of them.  They are the ones we read about in the Gospels.  These are the ones who more closely followed Jesus and who benefitted from His personal instruction and guidance.  After all, they would have a huge task in the future.  Eleven of them, with the later addition of Matthias, would be the apostles of Christ’s church as it launched and spread its influence into the known world.

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The Micro Group

Of the twelve disciples, there were three who enjoyed additional closeness to Jesus.  Peter, James, and John often were taken apart from the rest for more focused instruction.  They would have special roles in the church

after Christ would leave the scene.  Peter was tasked with shepherding

the church into existence and on into the Gentile world.  James was one

of the first martyrs.  John lived to old age and received the very needed Revelation of what God would do in the end times. 

Working In Micro Groups

95FIVE likes the micro group approach because it brings discipleship instruction back to a more personal level than merely leaving growing Christians to glean what they can from larger group teaching.  It also utilizes the power of partnership (Ecclesiastes 4:9-13).  Micro groups have the potential to extend the effectiveness of small groups and perhaps compensate for some individuals not yet being ready to function in a larger group setting.  


95FIVE teaches relationship skills.  Therefore, the micro groups are labeled SKILLS Micro Groups.  Spirituality, Knowledge, Influence, Learning, Liberty and Strategy are all core principles of 95FIVE teaching.

 

The philosophy of micro groups are built on three pillars:  

 

  • Affinity

  • Accountability

  • Advocacy

 

Affinity is important because as much as it is possible, micro groups should consist of individuals who have some commonality in their perspective.  For instance, good friends may or may not function well together in a micro group, but fellow outdoorsmen might, or veterans, or vegans.  A 21-year-old rock climbing enthusiast might not be a good fit for a middle-aged banker, but a retired business owner could work great with a young entrepreneur.  Affinity isn’t about demographic factors but about outlook and perspective, as well as personality dynamics.  

 

Participants should prayerfully seek the guidance of mentors, group leaders, and most of all the Holy Spirit as they partner with other micro group members.  Affinity isn’t a “make or break” factor in micro groups but we want to avoid any potential hindrances that could undermine someone’s efforts toward growth.

 

Accountability is also important to micro groups, as it is to Christian life as a whole.  The level of accountability and in-person interaction will be up to the micro group, or the larger group that sets expectations for the micro groups under its supervision.  However, the basic expectation is that each member encourages the others to complete the journey through the 52-section program, or any other discipleship training course. 

 

Advocacy is critical as well.  To be an advocate means to be on someone else’s side.  Micro group members should not only look to their personal growth but be interested in the growth of the other members, too.  “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

 

Those believers who feel frustrated with available small group experiences in their church that don’t meet objectives important to them would do well to consider starting a micro group.  They can give licenses to The People Process as gifts, or all the members can split the cost.  Show your faith community what authentic discipleship can accomplish.

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