The First Baptist Church of Benbrook is striving to become a church of disciples who make disciples. Jesus not only calls us to be a disciple but also to be involved in disciple making.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28.19-20 ESV)
Our strategy for making disciples is through D-Groups. D-Groups are groups of three to five people who meet weekly for the express purpose of becoming disciples who make disciples. They commit to reading Scripture and Scripture memory. They pray for each other and the lost. And they hold each other accountable as maturing followers of Christ.
Some FAQs about D-Groups:
What is a D-Group?
D-Groups (Discipleship Groups) are groups of 3 to 5 people who meet weekly for the express purpose of becoming disciples who make disciples. They are gender exclusive with men meeting with men and women meeting with women. D-Groups are built around three core values.
Core Value #1: Scripture
Members of the group will agree to read a certain portion of the Bible before they meet together for their next meeting. The group has the freedom to choose which part of the Bible to read and how much to read. In order to encourage the formation of other spiritual disciplines, I suggest that the group agree to read one to two chapters of the Bible each day.
There are certainly other variations to this model. The group may agree to read one chapter of the Bible over and over again during the week. For instance, the group may agree to read John 15 or Psalm 119 once a day for a week. At other times, the group may agree to read the entire book of Mark in one week. Longer books like Isaiah might be divided into 7 chapter segments. But the key is to regularly read significant amounts of Scripture. The Bible has 1189 chapters, so it will take 3 years and 4 months to read it all at a pace of one chapter a day. In other words, there is enough Scripture to keep the group busy for a long time. The important thing is not what you read but that you are reading. Constantly.
But D-Groups are about more than just the regular reading of Scripture. D-Groups encourage believers to develop the spiritual disciples of mediation and Scripture memory, too. To this end, members of the D-Groups are encouraged to journal as they read Scripture. To meditate simply means to think deeply about something. Sadly, we forget much of what we read unless we do something to capture it. Journaling is a simple tool to capture what we read and to think deeply about it so that it doesn’t just float away.
One very simple method of journaling that has radically changed my life is the H.E.A.R. method. You don’t need a fancy notebook, nor buy any expensive supplies. All you need is some paper, or a word processor, and you are ready to go. Here’s how it works.
For each day’s reading, you are looking for the Scripture that jumps off the page, where the Spirit prods your heart. Write this Scripture verse down. This is the H, which stands for Highlight. You are highlighting on your page what the Spirit is highlighting in your heart.
Next, take a few moments to think deeply about that Scripture, and then write down your observations. These may include questions. This is the E, which stands for Explain. Using your own words, explain what this Scripture means.
Next, ask yourself how this Scripture applies to your life. What is the Lord saying to you through this text? This is the A, which stands for Application. What might this scripture be calling you to do?
Finally, what are you going to do as a result of what God is saying to you through this Scripture? This is the R, which stands for Response. This often takes the form or a prayer or an action step.
Highlight, Explain, Apply, Respond. These simple steps will help you to retain and to meditate on the Scripture that you read.
Another spiritual disciple is scripture memory. This is one of the most neglected of all spiritual disciplines, and one that is so powerful for transformation. If you want to develop the mind of Christ and to have a biblical worldview where the truths of the Bible just ooze out the pores of your mind, then you must be hiding God’s words in your heart.
There are a wide variety of Scripture memory plans to choose from, but our church uses a system called Fighter Verses. This is a five year Scripture memory system that provides a weekly memory verse and leads us to memorize a wide variety of Scripture covering a multitude of subjects. The Fighter Verses focus on the character and worth of a great God, the battle against our own fleshly desires, and the hope of the gospel. The memory verse for each week can be found at their website or in the church bulletin.
Core Value#2: Accountability
One of the most powerful aspects of a D-Group is the accountability it provides. By meeting weekly to discuss the agreed upon Scriptures, we are held accountable to both read and mediate over the Scriptures. By requiring each member to quote the memory verse, we are held accountable to be memorizing Scripture. The sad reality is that we put effort into that which we know we will be held accountable for, whether it is in our careers or in our spiritual development. Knowing that we will have to show our journal pages and quote the memory verse will encourage us to do both.
Moreover, the group holds each other accountable for living the Christian life, for obeying the commands of Jesus. To this end, the group discusses a set of accountability questions. Knowing that you will give an accounting of your life to your discipleship group each week is a powerful means of staying the course. The Bible commands us to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10.24), and this is one very effective way to do just that.
Core Value #3: Prayer
The spiritual discipline of prayer is essential, and the D-Group not only prays together but also prays strategically for the lost. First, the group ends each meeting by praying over one another. One simple way of doing this is to have one member sit in a chair while the other members gather around, laying hands on him or her. One of the other group members vocalizes the prayer for the group. Each group member takes a turn sitting in the chair and in vocalizing the group prayer. This not only allows each one to experience the grace of being prayed for but also to develop the ability to pray out loud, something that is challenging for young believers.
But more than that, the D-Groups encourage disciples to pray for the lost. Each member of the group is encouraged to share the names of one or two people whom they are praying for to be saved. Each member records these names in their prayer journal. Each member of the group prays daily for not only their own names, but also for one other unsaved person who is on the group’s prayer list. Each day, the group member would choose another person from the group’s prayer list to pray for in addition to praying for the one or two on his or her personal list. This way, between 6 to 10 unsaved people are being prayed for each week, depending on the size of the group.
Each group member will agree to the D-Group Covenant. This is not intended to be a legalistic contract but a way to be on the same page regarding our expectations for the group. Groups simply function better when each member knows what is expected of them before they commit to join.
The Group Covenant is as follows:
In order to get the most out of my discipleship relationship, I commit myself to the following standards:
- I will pledge myself fully to the Lord with the anticipation that I am entering a time of accelerated spiritual transformation.
- I will complete all assignments on a weekly basis prior to my D-Group in order to contribute fully to the discussion. This includes the Scripture readings, journal entries, and Scripture memorization.
- I will make every eﬀort to meet with my D-Group for approximately one and one-half hours each week to discuss the Scripture readings from the previous week and how it applied to my life.
- I will contribute to an atmosphere of conﬁdentiality, honesty, and personal vulnerability for the ediﬁcation of others in the group as well as my own spiritual growth.
- I will pray for the other disciples who are on the discipleship journey with me every week as well as praying for the lost who are on our group’s list.
- I will begin praying about replicating the process with a group of at least two other people when this group is ready to multiply.
When Do D-Groups Meet?
D-Groups are free to meet whenever and wherever it works best for the members of the group. In fact, this is one of the most powerful aspects of D-Groups. It is much easier to coordinate the schedules of two to four other people than to get a large group together. And a group of 3 to 5 people can meet almost anywhere, from a coffee shop to a city park. The key is to find a time that works for every member and to find a location that allows for confidentiality.
How Are D-Groups Started?
A D-Group can be started by any believer with a passion to do so. There are no leadership classes to complete. Church permission is not required. All that is required is for a believer to have a desire to deepen their spiritual walk by joining a discipleship community.
Then, how does one go about starting a group?
The first step is to pray, asking the Lord if He is directing you to start a D-Group. If the answer is “Yes,” the next step is to ask the Lord to place on your heart the name of one other person with whom to share the vision. This will probably be someone that you already have an affinity for since it is easier to meet regularly with and to share your heart with people that you enjoy spending time with.
Robby Gallaty (Growing Up) says that when looking for potential group members, we should look for “F.A.T.” believers. Potential group members should be willing to be faithful to process. They should be available to meet once a week. And they should have a teachable spirit. If they will not commit to the process, and if their schedule will not allow them to attend the group meetings, and they are not hungry to grow in their faith, then they probably are not ready to participate in a discipleship group at this time.
After explaining the concept of a D-Group with this person, ask them to pray about forming a D-Group with you. Then the two of you can pray about two or three other people to invite.
When all of the group members have been invited, have an initial meeting to get organized. You may want to provide for each member a copy of this book, which can be obtained through the church office, but it is also available on the church website. Share copies of the Group Covenant to make sure each member understands what is expected. Copies of the Group Covenant are also available on the church’s website. Choose a time and place for the weekly meetings. Decide on the Scripture reading for the first meeting. Finish by praying as a group for this new venture. Ask for the Lord’s blessing and bountiful presence to be upon your group.
When your D-Group is up and running, please let the pastor know who is meeting in your group.
What Do D-Groups Do When They Meet?
A D-Group meeting is composed of three parts. First, the group discusses the Scripture readings from the past week, sharing what the Lord taught them through the Scriptures and how it has changed their lives. They also take turns quoting the memory verse, including the reference, to the group.
Second, the group discusses the accountability questions, paying attention to any sins that need to be confessed or any special prayer needs.
Finally, the group prays together, both praying for each other and praying for the lost.
How Long Does a D-Group Last?
The better question is, “When is a D-Group ready to multiply?” Remember, part of the DNA of a D-Group is for disciples to become disciples who make disciples. Each group member comes into the group knowing that when this particular D-Group finishes, they are to prayerfully consider starting a D-Group with two to four other believers. So, how long does it take for that to happen?
There is no set answer to that question. Some D-Groups will be ready to multiply in as little as three months, but others might take a full year. D-Groups have a natural life cycle, and the rhythm of the group will move from infancy to young adult to mature adult and then into decline. When a group begins to lose its energy, it is not a sign that the D-Group has failed but rather a sign that the D-Group is ready to multiply.
When the time to multiply comes, you will notice a tug of the Spirit. The Lord will put the names of other believers on your heart who might benefit from such a group. You might come across a spiritual infant who could really benefit from such a group. You might notice new members of the church who really need a way to connect to the body and to Christ. In other words, multiplication is under the direction of the Spirit, but a D-Group should most likely multiply within a year.
Each D-Group should multiply into at least two new groups, but could possible multiply into more than that. If the group has five members, it is possible that five new groups might develop out of that one group. However desirable this might be, it probably is not the norm. A more reproducible model is that the D-Group would multiply into two groups, opening up two to three more spaces for new disciples. This way, each member of the group is starting a new group with a partner, and the culture of the group is more easily passed on to the next group.
For More Information About Making Disciples...
Our pastor has recently written a short book exploring the call of disciple making, examining the core values of any disciple making strategy, and describing a strategy of for making disciples who make disciples.
You can download the PDF version of the book for free from the following link: