What Discipleship Group Are You In? – Mike Patterson

What Discipleship Group Are You In?

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me

scatters.” Luke 11:23

The work of God is to gather people together. In Matthew 28:18-20, the literal Greek can be translated “disciple the nations”. Disciple is used in the verb form here instead of a noun as it is usually used. This is where we get our word “discipling” from. Jesus commands us to “disciple” or mentor each other.  Jesus not only practiced one-on-one discipling but group discipling. Jesus had large crowds of thousands constantly following him. In order to train and disciple the multitudes, Jesus narrowed his efforts by choosing a group of 12 men (Mark 3:13-19). “12” was a significant number. There were 12 tribes of Israel, and by choosing “12” apostles, the message was clear; this would be Jesus’ discipleship group that would lead the 1st Century Church Movement. The group was given a cool name: The Apostles. “Apostles” literally means the “Messengers”! This wasn’t the only group Jesus pulled together. Luke 10:1 NASB records, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others…” Seventy was another symbolic number as the table of nations in Genesis 11 listed seventy nations. It was common thought that the whole world consisted of seventy nations. In effect, Jesus was saying by choosing 70, that this special group would go on to help evangelize the entire globe. Although, they weren’t the 12 that Jesus directly discipled, he was still was able to interact with them, training them as a next line of leadership for the Church. As a congregation, we must imitate the method of Jesus in order to see New England and the world evangelized in our day! It is exciting to know the church here provides discipleship through a variety of different groups!

  1. The Staff

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” Mark 3:13-14

Jesus chose those he wanted to be in his inner-circle. This is certainly not favoritism as God values every human soul. This was necessary so he could train a few to be able to reduplicate what he could do in order to reach the masses. Chenelle and I are still in the process of choosing our “12”. For us, this is our “staff” group consisting of the House Church (HC) Leaders, Paid and Unpaid Interns, and Shepherds in Training. Chenelle and myself serve as the Women’s Ministry Leader and Lead Evangelist of the congregation. Our “12” Staff group consists of: Rafael and Melissa Jerez (South HC Leaders, Shepherds in Training of Worship), Sal and Jennifer DiFusco (North HC Leaders, Shepherds in Training for Marrieds Ministry, North, and AMS), Kevin and Janah Dawson (Shepherds in Training for Children’s Ministry and Dating Couples), Frank Hines (Singles Ministry Leader, Shepherd in Training for Strengthening Needs), Gianni DiFusco (Paid AMS Intern), Skyla Eastman (Unpaid AMS Intern), Peter and Jessica Markarian (Paid Campus Interns), Joe and Amelia Mack (Central House Church Leaders, Administration, Shepherds in Training for Finances), Cassandra Dorvil (MERCY Coordinator, Singles Ministry Women’s Leader, and Unpaid Intern), Christina Graydon (Campus Unpaid Intern), Andre Carreo (Campus Unpaid Intern), Mara Eagen (Campus Unpaid Intern). Excitingly, we have just chosen to add our newest dating couple Tony St. Louis and Tamika Bispham to this extraordinary group. God is sovereign over the leadership in his church (Revelation 1:20). If you aspire or dream of being a part of the staff group, pray to God and give yourself fully to the ministry you are currently part of. God exalts the humble and humbles the proud (Matthew 23:12). No one chose to be a part of the “12”, Jesus had to choose them, and thus the same for our staff group.

 

 

  1. ICCM

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Romans 10:2

“…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

An amazing miracle happened August 16, 2012 when our fellowship of churches application to found the International College of Christian Ministry (ICCM) was approved by the California Bureau of Postsecondary Education. This “verification of exempt status” allows ICCM to grant accredited Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate Degrees in Ministry according to Biblical doctrines and convictions. After receiving my Masters degree in 2016, we were able to launch ICCM-Boston in January of this year! This “school of prophets” (2 Kings 2:3-5) doesn’t replace the one-on-one discipleship of walking with an evangelist or women’s ministry leader, but provides the Biblical depth, training, and academically-rich knowledge needed to equip those who desire to serve God in the ministry. ICCM, like the “12”, you must be selected to participate in order to receive a full scholarship. Personally, I went to Oklahoma Christian University (Portland Oregon’s branch “Cascade College”) and received my Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies. I can attest that I learned more from ICCM’s program in being effective for the ministry and biblical depth than I ever did at a “Christian” college outside our movement. Excitingly, Christina Graydon, who is a graduate student at Harvard, has been scholarshipped into this semester’s ICCM starting September 30th! It has been exciting to have disciples from Syracuse and Washington DC join us for our college of ministry. Please continue to pray for this amazing school of prophets to continue to expand.

  1. The Lion’s Den

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

Jesus had another group of 70 (some manuscripts 72– Luke 10:1)! These were guys he didn’t personally disciple but wanted to have close interaction with and be on his leadership team. They would go on to be some of the greatest evangelists in all church history. As stated earlier, 70 was significant because in Genesis 11 there are 70 nations in the Table of Nations, which were thought to make up the whole world at that time. In effect, Jesus was saying this group will evangelize the whole world! Lion’s Den (named after Daniel’s faith which withstood the lion’s den) is Chenelle and I’s “70” group. You do not ask to be in Lion’s Den, you are chosen to be a part of it. If you are not chosen yet, it doesn’t reflect on your walk with God as we should all find our security in our position as a disciple of Jesus, at the foot of the Cross. Satan is the one who sows seeds of distrust, competition, insecurity, and other ungodly traits, when we focus on these different groups from a humanistic point of view. God is sovereign and I would pray to God and trust his timing if you desire to be in the fraternity. Lion’s Den is a fraternity (brotherhood or sisterhood) where most times we split up men and women to learn the practical’s of effective ministry. Events include street preaching, mock-Bible Talks, discipling of one another in the group, formal events, assignments, and much more. Those in Lion’s Den are not more special than those who are not, just as those in staff are not either. We believe many of our next House Church Leaders will come from this incredible group of young men and women.

  1. Bible Talks

“…So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Acts 19:9-10

Paul imitated Jesus’ method of small groups in order to evangelize a province. Paul took the disciples (most likely the 12 he baptized in Acts 19:1-5) with him, hosting daily bible discussions (Bible Talk) in the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus. In two years time the entire province of Asia was evangelized! Out of all the groups mentioned in this article, Bible Talks are the foundation of the church from a ministry perspective. The Bible Talk imitates Jesus and the apostles. In the Boston church, every member is a part of a small group called a Bible Talk. The Bible Talk Leader would be “Jesus” (loosely based as the leader is not perfect) and the members the “apostles” (also loosely based!). By establishing small groups like this all across Boston, we believe all of New England will be evangelized in a short time. These groups are special families that spend time together fellowshipping and evangelizing their local neighborhood or campus. Many times we want to be apart of the “more important” groups in our mind but don’t give our entire heart to our Bible Talk. How is your Bible Talk doing? Are you a critic or part of the solution? Are you close to every member in your Bible Talk? Bible Talks provide an incredible opportunity to train for the ministry by walking with your Bible Talk leader. It should be every Christian’s goal to lead a Bible Talk. “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12). The scripture is clear that every disciple is to become a teacher of the “First Principles” of Christianity. Bible Talk provides the opportunity to bring non-Christian friends out, who will in turn then study the Bible. The members can watch the Bible Talk Leader lead the Bible studies on the “elementary truths” in order to learn to lead the studies themselves. Ideally, a Bible Talk leader is someone who can lead a majority of the First Principles Bible Studies to completion.

  1. Discipling Partners

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus commanded that after baptism, every new disciple is taught to obey by the one who made them into a disciple. Discipling is a command of God. All throughout the Bible we see discipling relationships: Moses discipled Joshua, Nathan discipled David, David discipled the mighty men, Jesus disicpled the twelve, Peter discipled John Mark, Barnabas discipled Paul, Paul discipled Timothy, etc. “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). In order to fulfill the over fifty “one-another” passages in the Bible (ie ‘love one another’, ‘confess your sins to one another’, etc.); the Boston church has every member paired up with someone in a discipling relationship. We encourage every discipling pair to meet up once a week for a discipleship time (d-time) where the word of God is used in order for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Discipling is how we grow and transform as the Holy Spirit guides us through his word. Are you willing to be challenged, corrected, and trained by your discipleship partner? This is how we become fully trained according to Jesus.

My prayer is this article helps you understand all the training programs our church has and the scriptural basis for each one. Every Christian is part of a discipleship group. You will get out of each group whatever you put into each group. The leadership group of the BICC is charged to equip his people for works of service, so the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12). Please take time to pray for each of these groups, devote yourself fully to your Bible Talk and discipling relationship, and experience the fullness of Christ power in your life! To God be all the glory.                                      

-Lead Evangelist, Mike Patterson