There are two steps.
- Gather people.
- Make disciples.
Both are bathed in prayer day and night.
Gather people. It is much easier to gather people and win them to Christ than to win people and then try to gather them. The best way we know to gather people is to use food (yes, the real stuff!).
Invite friends, family, and neighbors to eat. The idea of the gatherings is to get to know one another. In knowing one another better, we build trust. Eating together is a natural way to begin relating we want to be church with. There is no planned devotional. No Bible under the table that we pull out as people are finishing their dessert. If a spiritual topic arises in the natural flow of conversation, follow the Spirit’s lead. Share openly as a Christian, but not dominating the dialog.
If things seem to go well, encourage everybody to bring one or two others with them next time. Ask who might be able to bring sandwiches, drinks, empanadas, fruit, etc. to the next gathering.
Make disciples. Continue meeting with food being the drawing card. As the servant-leader senses the Lord’s leading (remember we are praying day and night about all this) begin introducing participative group activities to encourage spiritual dialog.
Which elements are utilized depends upon the group, their spiritual receptivity, etc. Some of the more common and widely used are:
- Short general-interest downloaded YouTube videos burned to DVDs that help generate dialog
- Listening to one another’s stories, spiritual journeys, testimonies
- Singing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs from songbooks or CDs
- Ice-breakers (some fun, others of a more serious nature)
- Simple group sharing and praying for one another
Again, elements are introduced as the Spirit leads. The goal is to make disciples, not converts. We don’t want to drag our feet, but neither do we want to rush ahead of the Spirit. After 3 or 4 weeks you will have a pretty good idea of who all is shaping up as the core group. These will be at various stages along the discipleship path. Several will have made public professions of faith.
While continuing to encourage everyone to bring their guests to the “eating meetings” prayerfully ask them a key question, “HOW MANY OF US WOULD SAY WE LOVE GOD?” After a show of hands share Jesus’ words, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” What are the Ten Commandments of Jesus Christ? To be a disciple of Jesus we must obey those things He said were important. No one can be a disciple unless he keeps Jesus commandments.
At that point start with #1, the Great Commandment. We ask three people to read aloud Matthew 22:36-40. Then ask three questions:
- What does Jesus say? (Tell it in your own words what you understood.)
- What did He mean? (What do the words mean?)
- How are we going to obey this commandment? (What specific actions can we take to obey?)
This becomes the pattern for the rest of Jesus’ Commandments that will be studied over the coming weeks. Once this pattern of self-feeding is learned, it can be used with any passage of Scripture and is easily reproducible even with new believers starting new groups.
At this point introduce the second major discipleship tool which is to get everyone into a “GRUPO DE TRES” (Group of Three) discipleship group. These are very similar to Neil Cole’s LIFE TRANSFORMATION GROUPS. Try to encourage everyone to be in a group of three. Everyone receives a bookmark card which serves three purposes, 1) Bible reading plan, 2) accountability questions, 3) praying for one another and the lost.
The final element phased in for the “eating meeting” is a time of “one another” ministry where prayer, exhortation, encouragement, counsel, sharing, etc. are openly shared amongst those gathering week by week (1 Cor.14:26.)
There are a few more “nuts and bolts” but this is the gist of how to train house church leaders to start.