I recently started a men’s discipleship triad – something I call ‘D-Groups’. I’ve been leading D-Groups for the past 5-6 years and I think this is my 9th group. I have found discipleship triads to be very effective – much better than one-on-one – because of the exponential dynamic at play when there are three participants rather than just two.
I first learned about triads through the writing of Greg Ogden in Transforming Discipleship from IVP. After extensive research Ogden discovered that triads provided unique opportunities for discipleship that aren’t present in either one-on-one or small group models. He then wrote “Discipleship Essentials” as a study guide to use with these triads. I have used that resource with all of my D-Groups.
So what makes it work? First, the dialog doesn’t rest on just one or two people. A third person at the table helps to keep the dialog running and adds another voice to the conversation. Second, with triads the relationship becomes more of a mutual arrangement rather than the teacher-student relationship that is created in one-on-one discipleship. Third, triads are small enough that everyone participates equally. Something that is more difficult to manage in a larger small group.
I like the way Ogden has set-up Discipleship Essentials with 24 lessons that review some of the basics (bible study, prayer, etc) and move on to some deeper areas (justification, redemption, adoption) through a variety of guided studies. I learn something new every time I go through the study with a new group of men. I’m sold on the very explicit expectation that these D-Groups are to be reproducible groups where each man commits to leading at least one group of their own upon completion.
Ogden writes: “Discipleship Essentials is specifically designed to implement small (3-4), reproducible discipleship units. The vision that stands behind this tool is an ever-expanding, multi-generational discipling network. This tool brings together three elements which allows the Holy Spirit to bring about accelerated growth in a believer through the unchanging truth of God’s Word, transparent relationships and mutual accountability.”
What do you use to disciple people?
Do you disciple in 1-on-1 groups, small groups, or something else?