Building Groups or Making Disciples? Part 3

Models for intentional discipleship in a small groups church, focusing on open group membership coupled with one-on-one mentoring.

In past months we've looked at two different approaches to discipleship in the small groups church: closed discipleship groups and the combination of open groups with elective seminars. This month we examine a third alternative: coupling open group membership with one-on-one mentoring of group members. While this approach is less common than the others, it brings some unique advantages.

The strongest proponent of this approach is Touch Ministries. Touch publishes a one-year "Equipping Track" series, as well as a Sponsor's Guidebook and video. As a new person enters the group, they are asked to complete a spiritual inventory (called the Journey Guide). The small group leader and new group member review this together and a sponsor is then assigned to the new group member. Together, the sponsor and new member map out the next year of one-on-one meetings, using whatever modules are appropriate.

In the Touch system, there are two tracks which can be used in parallel or sequentially. The first track is a basic discipleship program; the second is a one-year overview of the Bible called Cover the Bible. Each module in the two tracks provides daily personal devotional material in addition to a weekly guide for the sponsor-sponorsee meeting.

This approach has also been employed in campus ministries for many years. Materials like Campus Crusade's Ten Basic Steps, the Navigator's Design for Discipleship and others are intended to be used in this one-to-one format.


This approach shares many of the strengths of the seminar format, including the careful sequencing of material for different levels of maturity and the opportunities for relational evangelism. Like both other approaches it provides a comprehensive overview of whatever ...

article Preview

This article is currently available to subscribers only. To continue reading:

free newsletter

Sign up for our free Small Groups Newsletter : Regular access to innovative training resources, Bible-based curriculum, and practical articles.


Four Bad Reasons to "Close" Your Group
Four Bad Reasons to "Close" Your Group
These common excuses for rejecting visitors just don't pass the test.
Creating and Keeping an Outward Focus in Your Small Group
Creating and Keeping an Outward Focus in Your Small Group
Computer-based training to help your groups avoid an inward shift
From Seeker to Believer
God can use a group's ability to be open to new people.
The "Us Four and No More!" Syndrome
Can your group remain closed indefinitely?
Compel or Expel?
The objective of meeting the needs of individuals will determine whether your group should be open or closed.
Thinking Outside the Group
Consider ways to intentionally lead an open small group.