2017 Intensive Discipleship Group
Next year I'm trying something new: An intensive small group committed for a year to each other and to the common pursuit of moving further into the kingdom of God. Further up and further in (Narnia, anyone?).
About the Group
For the past couple years I’ve felt a growing desire to try something new. Well, new for me anyway. And new for the Reality SF structures of care and development. While community groups are an amazing place for community and growth, and Sundays are a wonderful space for learning, I’ve wanted to find a kind of middle space. This space would be more intense and intentional than a community group and a place of more rigorous and collaborative learning than Sunday provides. Part book club, part discipleship program, part accountability group, part ministry training, part seminary-level cohort, part family. That’s a rough sketch of the idea that has refused to leave my mind for two years now. Because this itch won’t go away and the vision won’t get any clearer, I’m discerning that it’s time just to give something a try.
So, beginning in January I am going to try leading a year-long intensive discipleship group (for lack of better terminology). It is open to everyone in the church, but the idea will be primarily to offer it to those in my area of care in Southeastern SF. And it won’t be for everyone. Most people will have little interest, willingness, or capacity. Essentially, this will be designed for those wanting to commit to rigorous reading and thinking, to participating in intensely transparent and provocative community, and to growing in their capacity to love others well. it won’t cost any money, but it will require a significant time cost: Expect about 10 hours per week. Time reading, time in conversation with fellow participants, time meeting all together, time praying and time debating, time giving and receiving counsel, time practicing disciplines and time ministering to others along the way.
Practically, the group will meet (most likely, typically) for three hours three times per month: One Wednesday evening, and two Sunday afternoons. There will be a lot of reading. About one book per month. And it will run from late January through November, with a summer break, most likely all of July.
For those interested, there is an application. I’ll read and respond to each one. Not everyone will be accepted and I’ll cap the group somewhere between 10-20 people.
I will lead the group. Which means I will teach, organize, guide, and pastor. But the point is also for this to be a highly collaborative space of interdependence and mutual contribution. Everyone will be asked and expected to help lead the group in one way or another. And the form and content of the group will be highly malleable, shaped and guided by everyone involved. Think, in college terms, of a cross between a small-group seminar and guided self-study. Everyone’s experience will be unique based on each person’s needs, strengths, and goals.
We’ll read theology and philosophy, history and fiction. We’ll study Biblical theology and narrative theology, not systematic theology, and we'll learn to know the difference. This means we’ll devote the time and energy to understand the story of the Bible and explore it as literature, trying to develop the skills to really handle the scriptures. We’ll develop the basic skills of spiritual direction and serve one another as we practice these skills. We’ll dive into Enneagram, childhood trauma, coping and defense mechanisms, and the practices of vulnerability and confession. We’ll tell each other how much money we make and how we are failing one another. We’ll do conflict, rebuke, honesty, feedback, mediation, forgiveness, reconciliation. We’ll eat together and with our spouses and kids. We’ll get to know one another, learn together, try new things, fail, recover, grow, and then it’ll be over. And before it ends we’ll help each other discern how God would have each of us go forward from here.
That’s the idea anyway. We can figure it all out as we go. The only thing that needs to be decided up front is commitment. As Jesus advised, there are costs to what we want that we must stop to consider. Ten hours per week, forty hours per month. And wholehearted, unguarded, radically transparent engagement with a group of strangers. That’s the ask.
If interested, apply here: 2017 Discipleship Group Application Form. The deadline to apply is January 8.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.