Greg Ogden

If you are a pastor reading this blog post, you would love to have reproducing, disciplemakers in your congregation. Even better, you would love to see a culture where the expectation and practice is that a maturing Christian is one who makes disciples as a lifestyle and you are experiencing the momentum of disciplemakers reproducing to the fourth generation. If this were the case the forward movement would be off the charts.

I know, I have seen it and felt it. People now leading disciple making groups after being participants move to a new different level of ownership and passion. It takes time and sustained focus to get this place.

But most churches never get here because of two fatal errors: You try to move too fast: By far the number one reason disciplemaking movements don’t even get off the ground is attempting to move too fast.

I can’t count how many times I watched pastors catch the transformative power of a MicroGroups only to shoot themselves in the foot by trying to start too many too fast.

I was invited to do one of my one-day seminars at a local church. The pastor was revved up. They even made T-shirts for their year of disciplemaking. I have two of them.

I warned the pastor to start small. I advised that he and a couple of other staff and solid lay leaders begin their experiment and carefully monitor the life within the groups.

When I inquired some time later how things were going with their MicroGroups, he confessed that they had fizzled out. Why?

He said, “I didn’t listen to you.”

He made a churchwide pitch to have people sign up in order to jump start the process. They started 30 groups with great fanfare and within a couple of years only a remnant remained and none of them had birthed new groups.

Another form of moving too fast is to use Discipleship Essentials as preaching content for the year. Discipleship Essentials has 25 lessons which can become the preaching content for 25 weekends while small groups are birthed to gather around each lesson.

I can understand the desire to connect worship to a small group experience. It is an opportunity to go deeper.

The problem is that it becomes a program that lasts for a year and then you are on to the next thing.

What you have done is create one more consumer experience without actually equipping people to disciple others. In addition, traditional small groups are too large to create the kind of intimacy necessary for transformation. The very thing that makes for a disciplemaking movement is equipping people to disciple others. But what you have actually done is set people up for the question:

That was nice this year, what is the program for next year?

The reason our motto is "Start small, go slow, think BIG" is to address this issue.

Find out how to go slow in a live Coaching MicroGroup.

I suggest to pastors who are wanting to get a feel for this approach to simply start one group. Live into the experience for 12-18 months of meeting weekly to sense the inner dynamics.

Learn to develop a transparent atmosphere as people share their ups and downs of life and even get to the point of becoming mutually confessional.

Apply the truth of Scripture to real life transformation.

Check out @gomicro3-4

Develop the habits of weekly preparation of a biblically based material and learn to articulate your insights to and learn from one another. Watch the relational bonds form as you track with each other’s life and pray for one another.

Keep before each person the challenge to start their own group at the completion of this one. Supervise the birth of 3 or 4 new groups from the original one.

Let the movement grow organically over time. Patient growth over time will lead to big things over 3 to 5 to 7 years. Even as I write this sentence some of you are saying to yourself, I don’t have that kind of time.

Really? Hear this challenge from Robert Coleman:

“One must decide where he wants his ministry to count--in the momentary applause of popular recognition (program splash) or in the reproduction of his life in a few chosen ones who will carry on his work after he has gone? Really, it is a question of which generation we are living for.”

(Robert Coleman, Master Plan of Evangelism, p. 37).


By far the number one reason disciplemaking movements don’t even get off the ground is attempting to move too fast.

"The problem in the culture isn’t the abortionists. It isn’t the pornographers or drug dealers or criminals. It is the undisciplined, undiscipled, disobedient, and Biblically ignorant Christians." - Cal Thomas

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