The best defense against hypocrisy is to make disciples in a small community, as Jesus demonstrated. How your disciples relate to one another in a group is an indicator of how each relates to God as an individual. The reason I disciple in community is because the only real way to know a person is based on how he interacts with others. A person can say that they love God with all their heart and that they worship him with a total abandon, but if he does not relate well with others, he is a liar (1 John 4:20).
The test to see if a person is a child of God and if he knows God is that he lovingly relates with others. “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). My relationship with God cannot be separated from my relationship with people; it is a direct indicator of my relationship with God.
Disciple making is not just an equipping course on how to do ministry, at its core disciple making is learning how to relate lovingly with God and with others. For this reason conflict and disunity among a group of disciples should not be looked upon despairingly by the discipler; but rather it is an opportunity to instruct his disciples on how to love one another.
(This is also why the family is an optimal place to make disciples. Within the home the parents have the opportunity to observe how their children relate with one another and then are able to teach the children how to love one another from a young age.)
Here’s what I do:
- I talk privately with each disciple about their relationship with each member of our group. We then discuss how he can affectively love each individual of the group. (We have found “The Five Love Languages” has been helpful in teaching our disciples on how to love one another.)
- I make sure that the group members spend one-on-one time with one another.
- Generally, when there is a conflict I do not address the entire group, but rather only those individuals involved.