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Discipleship Blog Series Week 1: M.A.R.C.S. of a D-Group

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Discipleship Blog Series
Week 1: M.A.R.C.S. of a D-Group

Main Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV),

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”

Overview: Jesus’ last command on earth was the Great Commission to go to all ends of the earth and make disciples who make disciples. The mission of the church is something we all probably know, but in our season of busy lives, we often struggle how to practically live it out. Discipleship simply is a relationship to grow more in loving God, loving people, and growing in the likeness of Jesus. Becoming a disciple-maker means equipping and empowering others to love God deeper, grow in the likeness of Christ, and intentionally disciple others (Luke 6:40; Eph. 4:11-17; 1 Cor. 11:1; 2 Tim. 2:2). The Holy Spirit is the only one who sanctifies and transforms you (2 Cor. 3:18), but we must be intentional about seeking others to disciple. This blog will focus of 5 ways to grow as a disciple of Jesus and become an intentional disciple-maker.

I do a lot of reading, listening, and researching on discipleship! I love to learn about the rich theology of discipleship, latest strategies, and simple tools to practically help us in our discipleship journey. A great book I read helped me piece this material together called “Rediscovering Discipleship (https://replicate.org/books/rediscovering-discipleship-making-jesus-final-words-our-first-work/). Pastor and Author Robby Gallaty has put together a model called M.A.R.C.S. that we are hoping to start at Eastside Community Church! I highly recommend the book, but listed below is a tool to help get you started on your discipleship journey.

Here is a helpful tool to measure the health of your discipleship group (or D-Group) called M.A.R.C.S.

1. Missional.

Discipleship and evangelism are not separate; they are married. A healthy disciple does evangelism. Discipleship is direction, not a destination. The goal is to move closer to the image and likeness of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Missional living happens when D-groups are held accountable and build intentional friendships and engage in lifestyle evangelism. How are we serving and evangelizing? Does my D-group serve together? Who is someone I can and am sharing the Gospel with? Eastside Community Church partners with Mission Possible Austin to serve east Austin. There are some practical ways to serve and share the Gospel with people in our community. Is there a mission’s trip to the nations we could go on? Each week, your D-group can (at the very least) ask who you are sharing the gospel with, and how are you serving.

2. Accountable.

D-Groups should have clear standards and expectations for accountability. Jesus called his disciples to leave everything, pick up their cross, and follow him! My weekly discipleship expectations are pretty low compared to that! This is a great time for accountability to confess sins (Rom. 8:1; 1 John 1:9; James 5:13-16), pray for one another (Gal. 6:2; Eph. 6:18), and encourage one another towards good works (John 14:15; Heb. 10:24; Titus 2:7; James 2:26).
A practical way to intentionally hold each other accountable is to sign a covenant! Here are 6 expectations you can commit to as a group:

Sample Covenant

  • I pledge myself fully to the Lord with the anticipation that I am entering a time of accelerated spiritual transformation.
  • I will meet with my D-Group for approximately one to one-and-a-half hours every week, unless providentially hindered.
  • I will complete all assignments on a weekly basis before my D-Group meeting, in order to contribute to the discussion.
  • I will contribute to an atmosphere of confidentiality, honesty, and transparency for the edification of others in the group as well as my own spiritual growth.
  • I will pray every week for the other men/women who are on the discipleship journey with me.
  • I will begin praying about replicating the discipleship process upon completion of this group.

3. Reproducible

D-groups are intimate and cherished gatherings. It can be (and expect it to be) difficult to multiply. Intentional discipleship takes intentional steps to reproduce. Is there an agreed upon time limit? We want to agree from the beginning and remind each other in the middle, to intentionally set a time-frame in order to multiply. For example, meet for 6 months, then each add someone, and meet 6 more months then split, etc. We recommend you be open, honest, and intentional about reproducing your D-Group.

4. Communal.

Discipleship is a direction, not a destination. D-Groups provide an additional layer of fellowship (not-in-place of worship or Community Groups) for spiritual growth. We see this best in Jesus and in the book of Acts. Jesus had the crowds, the twelve, and the three. We see consistently Jesus spent time in all three groups, but invested more time with the twelve, and shared special moments with the three: Peter, James, and John (Matt. 17:1; 26:36-39; Luke 8:50-55). We always see Jesus and the disciples in Acts do ministry and life in community.

5. Scriptural.

I listen to Pastor Robby Gallaty’s podcast, and in his book too, he says, “We need to get in the Word until the Word gets into us.” D-groups should focus on studying, journaling, and memorizing God’s Word (Deut. 11:18-23; Josh. 1:8; Prov. 3:1-2; Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim.3:16-17). How can we grow more like Jesus without growing in His living word? The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV), “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” His instruction to young Timothy was to equip and teach other men to teach other men!

At Eastside Community Church, we desire to be a gospel-centered, multi-ethnic, intergenerational family of believers who worship, belong, serve, and make disciples for the good of our community and the glory of God. We hope this is a great tool to get started on your discipleship journey!

If you are interested in joining, leading, or learning more about a D-Group, contact Pastor Jon Rector at Jon@eccatx.com or visit our website https://www.eccatx.com/discipleship

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