As Jesus began the practice of living the D-Life, His first priority was to call twelve men to live in intimate fellowship with Him and with each other.
Intimate fellowship with other believers is a main priority of living the D-Life. It’s hard to overstate the importance of relationships in one’s life. We are greatly influenced by the company we keep. The Christian life is centered on relationships. Close fellowship with other believers is life changing.
In Mark 3:13-19, Jesus modeled the D-Life by calling a very diverse group of men into a season of intimate fellowship with Him.
Mark 3:13-19 – And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles) so that they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
CHOOSING YOUR D-GROUP
You cannot live the D-Life unless you take the first step of choosing a group. You must take the initiative to call together some people into the intimate fellowship of a D-Group.
- Understand the importance of prayer.
Jesus went up on a mountain before He called His disciples. In Luke 6:12-13, we learn why Jesus went to the mountain. Luke says, “In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles.” Jesus made discipleship a matter of fervent prayer. He spent an entire night on a mountain fervently praying for God to show Him who He was to call to be His disciples.
You don’t need to ask God “if” He wants you to make disciples. Jesus has already commanded you to make disciples. The prayer we must pray is: “Lord, who? Who do you want me to ask to join with me in a D-Group?”
- Understand the initiative of leadership.
After praying, you must take the initiative to act on God’s leadership. You must meet face to face with those whom God wants you to disciple and ask them to join you in your D-Group. Let them know that God put them on your heart as you prayed over people who you should ask to join your group.
Explain to them that D-Groups fellowship together weekly, read and discuss the Bible together, and do ministry together. Don’t be afraid to ask them to make a commitment.
Paul followed the model of Jesus in discipleship. He discipled other men such as Timothy, Silas, and Titus, and he taught them to disciple others. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul said to Timothy: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul taught Titus to live a lifestyle of discipleship. Paul instructed Titus to teach “older women” to be “reverent in behavior . . . to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).
In the early church, godly older men intentionally discipled other men and godly older women intentionally discipled other women. They practiced multi-generational discipleship.
Likewise, this is what we must desire to do. Pray for God to guide you. Then take the initiative to choose a small group of people to disciple. A group of three to five is a good starting number.
Don’t be discouraged when people turn you down. You may have to ask several people before you connect with the ones God wants you to disciple. The right ones are out there. Keep seeking the Lord and keep asking those whom God leads you to until you have your group.
Your D-Group will be an intentionally “closed group.” However, it’s likely you will add a disciple or two along the way through your church relationships and your group’s personal friendships. This is good. We shouldn’t turn anyone away.
However, when your group grows to ten or more, you must multiply a new group as soon as possible. You will not be able to effectively disciple more than eight at a time and you want to be effective.
CONNECTING WITH YOUR D-GROUP
After choosing a small group of disciples, we must connect with them weekly. Mark told us that Jesus “appointed twelve so that they might be with Him.” He simply called them to “be with Him.”
Connecting with others in intimate fellowship is an imperative part of D-Life. We cannot disciple others apart from intimate fellowship with them.
There is great power in connecting with other believers. Connecting with a group for the purpose of discipleship will transform lives (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20; 27:17).
D-Groups must meet weekly to connect in fellowship, Bible study, and prayer. They can meet anytime and anywhere. They can meet in a home, church, restaurant, park, gym, or workplace. They can meet in the morning, afternoon, or night. They can meet on any day of the week.
CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR D-GROUP
One thing you notice about the group of disciples whom Jesus called is their diversity. When we begin to pray about people to invite to join us in a D-Group, there are some group characteristics to keep in mind.
- We want a diverse group.
We want to have mature believers in our D-Groups. We want to have one or two others who can help lead the group and who can be prepared to lead a new group when it’s time to multiply. Since our goal is to multiply new D-Groups, we always need to have someone we are preparing to lead.
We also want to have new believers in our D-Groups. New Christians are hungry for God’s Word. They are eager to learn from mature Christians.
We also want to have unbelievers in our D-Groups. Think outside the walls of your church. There are many lost and unchurched individuals who are seeking answers in life. They might be more than willing to join a small group Bible study meeting in a home or coffee shop where they can ask questions and find fellowship. It’s very likely that a lost person will be led to faith in Christ and connect with the church through the fellowship and witness of a D-Group.
It’s good to have people of different ages in our D-Groups. More mature believers enjoy investing in younger believers. Younger believers listen to and look up to mature believers and can learn much from them. D-Life is multi-generational discipleship.
- We want a defective group.
The disciples whom Jesus called had issues. They had all kinds of issues. Likewise, we want to disciple people who have issues.
It’s not hard to find people who have issues. People today struggle with issues like pornography, anger, depression, addictions, greed, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual identity issues. They need someone to come alongside them with loving spiritual accountability and prayer.
Radical spiritual transformation can and will happen in the context of the loving accountability of biblical discipleship.
In many ways we are all defective. We all have issues. We all need discipleship. We are all in the process of becoming more Christ-like.
- We want a dedicated group.
When we look for people to disciple, we want people who will be dedicated. Everyone in a D-Group needs to be faithful to the weekly group meetings and to daily Bible reading.
Jesus’ first disciples left their fathers, left their boats, left their fishing nets, and they followed Jesus (Mark 1:16-20). They were dedicated.
Likewise, we must be dedicated in our commitment to live the D-Life. There may be some things we will need to leave behind in order to live the D-Life.
The main thing Jesus has called us to do is to “make disciples.” If we must leave something behind in order to live the D-Life, it will be worth it.