Regarding discipleship, noted Christian researcher George Barna writes, "Among the barriers to spiritual growth are the tendencies to focus on Bible knowledge (i.e., memorize verses, know the stories of key biblical personalities) but not character development; the lack of a clear and specific idea of what meaningful discipleship is; and unrealistic expectations regarding the role of small groups in the disciple-making process.” Barna acknowledged that most churches have many programs and classes that represent the discipleship effort. "Offering programs is not the issue. We discovered that surprisingly few churches have a well-conceived model of discipleship that they implement. The result is that churches feel they have fulfilled their obligation if they provide a broad menu of courses, events, and other experiences, but such a well-intentioned but disjointed approach leaves people confused and imbalanced."
Strand 1: Crowd (majority of churches have "Sunday" services)
Size: 50+ people - typically the large gathering in most churches for corporate worship
Purpose: To bring about a change in knowledge
Focus: celebration - worship
Strand 2: Cell (growing number of churches have cell or life groups)
Size: 5-16 people
Purpose: To bring about behavioral change; character
Focus: community - fellowship
Strand 3: Core (few churches engage in up-close and personal discipleship as modeled by Jesus)
Size: 3 people - no more than 4
Purpose: To bring about a change of direction, heart and position; knowledge, character and conduct
Focus: committment - discipleship
Matthew Henry wrote, “All Christians are not of the same standing and stature; there are babes in Christ, there are grown men, and old disciples.” From 1 John 2:12-14 the Apostle John references three spiritual life stages: children, young men, and fathers. Core provides a variety of discipleship materials for all three stages. These resources are organized in a suggested sequence: Beginnings/Children (A1-A9: “knowledge”); Intermediate/Students (B1-B9: “character”); and Seasoned/Adult (C1-C9: “conduct”). The purpose of these categories is to help you develop a balanced set of discipleship resources as part of your church discipleship process.
• Consists of 3 and no more than 4 people
• Same gender
• Meets weekly for an extended time
• Purpose is to grow in relationship with God and each other
• Mutual transparency, trust, encouragement, instruction, accountability and "peer" counsel desired by all
• Each person desires to be formed, conformed, and transformed through Biblical knowledge/understanding/application, growing in Christ-like character, and evidenced by Holy Spirit-empowered conduct
• The Bible is absolutely essential (Acts 2:42)
• Core resources are available to you as free tools to use in conjunction with the Bible
• The group is facilitated by - but not dominated by - a more spiritually-mature believer (2 Tim. 2:2)
• The groups create an environment of life-transformation and multiplication by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:19; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:11-16)
• There must be equality, independence for each person to hear God's Word and the Holy Spirit, open and honest dialogue (not monologue)
• Must produce disciples who can then make disciples
• Each person in a Core Group must agree and allow others in the Group to hold them accountable (click here for a free downloadable covenant form) to growing in Christ-likeness
• Christ-like growth is the ultimate goal of each Group
• Accountability focuses on learning to “observe or obey all that Jesus has commanded” (Mth. 28:19).
Simple. Proven. Biblical. Reproducible.
• Adaptable to your unique ministry setting.
• Undated so that you can begin and integrate Core at any time.
• Translation independent so that your church and Core Group members are comfortable using their preferred English-language Bible translation.
• Free. The Core discipleship process and all of our materials are free.
• Core Discipleship is not affiliated with a denomination. We are sensitive to the doctrinal distinctions among Christians, so we have focused on the Core teachings of our Christian faith. Core has been used by a wide spectrum of churches, ministries, organizations and schools.
• Core purposes to make disciples who can then make disciples. Plus, from the very beginning, each Core member is encouraged to begin praying for his or her own Core Group and for someone who does not know Jesus as Lord.
Suggested Core Discipleship Resource Sequence
• Years: the years on the left represent the number of years to complete all materials in each of the representative Curriculum Chart segments (Children, Student, Adult). Note: years are not based on chronological age, but spiritual maturity in Christ as presented by the Apostle John (1 John 2:12-14).
• Chart: click on the following chart to review each of our Free Discipleship Resources.