Group leaders become frustrated when they are unable to cultivate a community that truly loves one another. Often the reason for this frustration is that the leader has put the cart before the horse. He/she has placed their energies on creating a community through the weekly meeting time rather than individually discipling the group members.
Christian small group leaders have been trained to build their community through the couple hours of “group time” that the members are together each week. I argue that the community’s environment is a result of the leader’s discipling of the members outside of the group time. As the orchestra’s concert is the consummation of lessons, private practice and rehearsals so the group dynamic is the expression of the discipler’s individual investment in his/her disciples. One cannot expect people who have not been discipled to behave like disciples in community.
Lewie, how important is it for the individuals in a discipleship community to witness how the discipler specifically loves and counsels each other individual?
It is important for the disciple to see how the discipler loves others, people learn my imitating-Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate the Lord”. But I think what is life changing is being loved by the discipler with the love of Jesus. Finding oneself being loved and believed in revolutionizes a life. The discipling community provides a great opportunity for the disciper to teach each disciple how to love the others. As a disciple I witness how my discipler loves others and how my disciplers teaches others how to love me.
The discipler teaches each individual how to love others in the community who may: have an addiction, be a homosexual, been molested as a child, eating disorder, deep insecurity, learning disability, etc.
How do we have to time to make it all happen? Discipling each individual AND still taking care of community things? What comes first in caring for the community? In other words, does community suffer for discipleship of individuals?
I believe discipling the individual is taking care of community “things.” (It is not both/and, it is one in the same.) I do not believe discipling takes away from the caring of the community, discipling is caring for the community.
In answer to your question, “what comes first in caring for the community?”-My answer would be discipling the individuals in the community, again I see the community a bi-product of making disciples.
I do think that individuals in a community suffer as individuals for the spiritual benefit of the community. (Not the community suffers for the sake of the individual.)
If there does come a point where the community “things” take time from the discipling ministry, then the community has become to large or maybe too complex.
Lew, I have a quick question. You said: “I do think that individuals in a community suffer as individuals for the spiritual benefit of the community. (Not the community suffers for the sake of the individual.)”
could you elaborate on this a little? And how do you teach this? Can you give an example of how this would play out?
ps. see you next week.
Again I go back to Paul. He suffered for the spiritual benefit of others. (2 Cor 1) There is an eternal purpose for his suffering. I believe it is important for those in the group to realize that the reason they are suffering may be for the spiritual benefit for others in the group.
“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Making disciples gets at the core of selfishness and self-centeredness.
In a discipling community I am helping individuals in the group see the opportunities to lay down their life for others in the group. Selfishness blinds us to see needs. I also have individuals in our group tell a story of their suffering so that others in the group can benefit from their experience.
I will even have one member take another member out to lunch for the purpose of sharing a time of suffering in their life.