Three Foundations for Discipleship in Small Groups

White Wing Messenger|May 2020

Three Foundations for Discipleship in Small Groups
Although the ministry, teaching, and influence of Jesus reached thousands, Jesus spent the majority of His time working with only 12.

Jesus’ call to these 12 was simple: “Follow me.” It was a call to leave everything and begin an intimate, ongoing relationship with Jesus. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). It was a call to discipleship in Jesus’ small group.

Not only does the model given to us by Jesus have implications for small group ministry today, but the ministry principles and events in the book of Acts and the epistles also guide the purpose and development of small group ministry that disciples. Atkinson notes that there are three specific foundations for small groups seen throughout the New Testament church: (1) the call to practice genuine fellowship; (2) the responsibility to demonstrate mutual care and concern for one another; and (3) the necessity of spiritual gifts in the community life of the church.


A model of genuine, Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered fellowship, or koinonia in the Greek language of the New Testament, is seen right after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:42–47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


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May 2020