What is a D-Group?
A D-Group is gender-specific closed group of 3 to 5 believers (including the leader) who meet together for the purpose of accelerated spiritual transformation. A person joins the D-Group by invitation only.
While Small Groups exist for the purposes of community growth and fellowship, they have an underlying additional purpose of evangelism. Small Groups are designed to reach lost people by getting them connected in the church and involved in the group. A D-Group, on the other hand, consists of believers who desire a deeper walk with Christ. It is not evangelistic in its form or function, but in its fruit: it makes disciples who will then go on to make more disciples.
This blueprint, sketched by Jesus Christ through His personal example, is how discipleship is accomplished in the lives of believers, and, ultimately, within the local church. When this plan is followed, those involved will participate in three dynamics that result in growth in their personal lives, as well as in the Kingdom: community, accountability, and multiplication.
How do I find a D-Group?
D-Groups flow out of Small Groups which form out of worship services. As people form friendships and bonds in Small Groups, handfuls of them will decide to take the next step and begin a discipleship journey together in a D-Group. If you would like to be in a D-Group, the second step on the pathway to discipleship is to join a Small Group. The best way to find other believers to grow deeper in discipleship is through the church.
How do I lead a D-Group?
While it is ideal to be in a D-Group before leading a group, the only absolute requirement for leading a D-Group is that you be intentionally pursuing Christ. You do not need to be a master teacher or have all of the answers; you do not need to be able to say, “Listen to me.” If you can say, “Follow me; I’m pursuing Christ,” you have the tools you need to lead a D-Group. As a D-Group leader, you set the tone for the group’s atmosphere. You are not lecturing students; you are cultivating an intimate, accountable relationship with a few close friends.
How do I choose disciples?
The first step in establishing a formal disciple-making relationship is choosing disciples. Jesus, our example in selecting disciples, spent time in prayer before selecting men (Luke 6:12-16). The word disciple means learner. Begin by asking God to send you a group of men or women who have a desire to learn and grow.
When people approached Jesus about becoming His disciples, our Lord held a high standard. One man said, “I’ll follow you, but let me go bury my father.” Now, the man’s father had not yet died–the man was reaching for an excuse to postpone the kind of commitment that Jesus expected of him. Jesus responded with something that the man would have understood to mean, “You can’t do that. The kingdom is too important.”
Your D-Group should consist of F.A.T. believers: Faithful, Available, and Teachable. A faithful person is dedicated, trustworthy, and committed. Consider a potential disciple’s faithfulness by observing other areas of his/her spiritual life, such as church attendance, Small Group involvement, or service in the church. Faithfulness is determined by a commitment to spiritual things.
After discerning that an individual is faithful, available, and teachable, prayerfully approach him or her and ask, “Would you be interested in studying the Bible, memorizing Scripture, and praying together?” Many people are open to that. All you have to do is ask. We don’t recommend that you say, “Would you like for me to disciple you?” as this question may come across in a derogatory manner. Keep in mind that men should disciple men, and women should disciple women.
How many people should be in the group?
Because accountability works well in a smaller setting, the ideal size of a disciple-making group is 3 to 5 – you and 2 to 4 other people. We recommend that you do not have more than 5, and remember that a one-on-one relationship is not ideal.
Where should we meet?
Find a meeting place away from the church. Restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, diners, and homes are all good options. Meeting outside the church in the community encourages your group members to publicize their faith, teaching them it is okay to read the Bible at a restaurant or pray in public. Be sure to select a place that is convenient to all group members.
How often should we meet?
Ideally, you should meet at least once a month for 12-18 months. You can meet more depending on your group's availability. The main thing is to be consistent but flexible. It is important to remember that discipleship is about the relationship between you and your group members, not about checking a requirement box. Disciple-making is a way of life, not a program.
Is there an attendance requirement?
Yes, and it is not negotiable. The first time I meet with a potential group, I explain the disciple-making covenant with them. Since we’re going to spend our lives together for the next twelve to eighteen months, I want to know if they are committed. Some people have said after the initial meeting, “Uh, this isn’t really for me. I’m not interested.” That’s okay. I allow potential disciples to opt out of the group on the front end after understanding the expectations spelled out in the disciple-making covenant. Remember, you are looking for people who want to be discipled, people who have a desire to grow and learn. An unwillingness to commit reveals that they are not ready to be in a D-Group. It’s the example Jesus set for us.
What do D-Group meetings look like?
Begin with prayer. Ask each participant to present one prayer request at the start of each meeting. Assign a person to pray over the requests, and ask the Lord to sharpen each of you through your relationship.
Here are some elements that your weekly meetings can include:
-Open with prayer.
-Have a time of intentional conversation by briefly sharing the highs and lows of the week. You can also share celebrations and praises.
-Quote your Scripture memory verses for the week.
-Study the Word of God together. A great way to do this is to share HEAR journals from the week. The goal of studying the Bible is to apply the Word of God. Remember, knowledge without application is useless information.
Here are some good application questions to utilize:
- What are you hearing from God, and what are you doing about it?
- What is God teaching you, and how is it affecting your life?
- Is there a promise to claim?
- Is there an action or attitude to avoid?
- Is there a principle to apply?
-Spend a few moments asking questions and keeping each other accountable. All accountability should be saturated with grace, not legalism. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.
-Share prayer requests and close with prayer.
Should I disciple unbelievers?
The preferred method is a gathering of born-again believers seeking to grow in their faith. How can you determine if someone is saved or not? We recommend beginning every group by asking each person to share their testimony with the others. Next, ask them to explain the gospel.
What if I don’t know the answer to a question?
There is no shame in not knowing all of the answers to every question. Simply confess that you may not have all the answers, but you will find them. Then do so before the next meeting. Ask your pastor or another spiritual leader to help you with the answer. Never give the impression that you have all the answers.
When do I send out disciples to make disciples?
Always begin with the end in mind. Your group should meet for 12 to 18 months, and they should expect that final date from the very beginning. Some groups develop a closer bond, which results in accelerated growth; others take longer. Some group members will desire to leave the group and begin their own groups. Others, however, will want to remain in the comfort zone of the existing group. Some will not want to start another D-Group because of the sweet fellowship and bonds formed within the current group. Remember, the goal is for the men and the women of the group to replicate their lives into someone else.