When Discipleship Opportunities Are Few, Make Your Own

When Discipleship Opportunities Are Few, Make Your Own

One woman’s burden for discipleship led to a Bible study for women who crave depth.
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Prayer Partners
After reciting our memory verses, we have prayer partner breakouts. Members draw for prayer partners during the first meeting of each 6-week session, and they remain partners throughout the session. This time is set aside for confession, repentance, prayer requests, and praying aloud for one another. Many people are afraid of praying aloud, but we've found that this one-on-one practice is helpful in overcoming fears.

Weekly Video
Next, group members gather in the main room to watch the weekly video. This is a 15-minute video I record each week with announcements, answers to questions from the previous week's discussion, and the weekly challenge—a practical application step based on what we've learned that week.

Bible Discussion
Then groups move into the discussion time, which takes up the bulk of the two-hour meetings. We spend about 45 minutes discussing the curriculum and what we've learned, as well as asking any questions we have about the study. If any questions remain unresolved, the leaders submit them to be answered in the following week's video.

Finally, we close in prayer. We aim to keep the meetings exactly two hours long in order to honor everyone's schedule. We have to maintain a tight schedule in order to fit everything in, especially in larger groups where our Scripture memory and group discussion time can take longer. Some hosts encourage members to come early or stay afterward to continue chatting, but not all group members or hosts have this flexibility, so we stick to the two-hour time slot as much as possible.

Why D-Groups Work

There are five standards that set D-Groups apart from most small groups. I believe these strict standards are what have led to the success of D-Groups and the amazing growth in the women involved:

1. We require a commitment to the group for the duration of each 6-week session. We close the group during each six-week session, which means no one new can join during that time frame.

2. We cap each group at 13 people (12 plus the leader, to follow Jesus' model) to maintain intimacy within the group and aid accountability. For those who are tempted to miss a meeting or refrain from sharing, this smaller group size doesn't give much space to hide.

3. We have demographic requirements:

  • Female. We want to create an environment for open dialogue.
  • At least 18 years old and out of high school. We don't want to steal from student ministry.
  • Christian. We choose deeper studies that aren't well suited for seekers.

4. We focus on knowing God, not on building community. We trust that community will be a byproduct of our focus. Community rarely happens rightly when community itself is the goal. It grows best in the soil of shared mission.

5. Our group discussions reflect our focus. They are centered on Scripture, not our opinions and experiences. Gossip is forbidden, even when cloaked as a prayer request.

Exponential Growth

D-Groups are not affiliated with any church or denomination, so our growth has been mostly organic. When a D-Group reaches 12 members plus the leader, the group multiplies into two separate D-Groups for the next session to make room for new members. A leader is chosen from the existing D-Group to lead the new group.

As stories of D-Group have surfaced, women around the country have grown interested in starting their own D-Groups. Because this didn't fit our normal multiplication model, and these women have never experienced a D-Group firsthand, I built a leadership training plan that effectively duplicates the groups in new places.

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