I was reading the Alan Hirsch interview on “Small Groups and the Mission of God” in Christianity Today and particularly liked the community rule he outlined for small groups.

What we’ve done to make sure that discipleship is taken seriously is embed within the covenant of each group a certain set of practices. The problem with most communities of faith is that they are confessional. They believe in the Great Commission, they believe in discipleship—they’re saying the right things. But they don’t address behavior.

So what we did is develop a set of practices designed to produce embodied values in the lives of our group members. And we called those practices TEMPT—Together we follow, Engagement with Scripture, Mission, Passion for Jesus, and Transformation. How each unit or group engaged in these practices was entirely up to them, but it had to be observable that they were practicing them.

I was wondering what others find helpful for raising the bar of discipleship in small groups?

2 thoughts on “Small Groups and the Mission of God

  1. Matt,
    There are a number of other acronyms I’ve heard recently: BELLS and MORPH (the latter by Len Hjalmarson’s new group). Some of these groups are attempting to process community as part of a missional order — and embodies what is called a “Rule of Life”. It is all very new and explosive — at the same time being very, very old. Hence, the “neo-monasticism” that is on the rise.
    It is all a matter of finding a way to take something and make it easy to remember, and thereby, actually do. For me, CovenantClusters will be simpler on one hand and more complex on the other. A simpler rule (like Northumbria’s rule of availability and vulverability with the heretical imperative to ask each other the hard questions of life and discipleship) and a more complex life because of the challenge of intentionally embracing the liminality of existence in communitas — life on the margins, lived together.
    Those who have “acronym” rules, as it were, tend to not necessarily live in close proximity (whether communally or as near neighbors who “do life” together), but use this as a means to bind themselves together in the WAY they live — when they are apart and when they are together. Some form of “The Daily Office” serves to remind them of their wider connection, while also being an anchor in their present, though separated, lives.
    Beyond this, CovenantClusters will be following something similar to Neil Cole’s LTGs (Life Tranformation Groups), which is the smallest groups — triads and quadrads of same gendered folks. I believe that these groups (I call mine WordClusters, because they are clustered around a dynamic discipline of reading significant passages of scripture — say 20 chapters a week) are absolutely critical because groups this small prevent people from “hiding” from the transformation that can come when we bear each other’s burdens and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into each other’s lives through each other!
    …sorry for the length…but that’s what I’ve been pondering the last few years. Blessings!


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