Coaching people to apply what they are learning on their spiritual journey is an important way to help established disciples take their next steps of ongoing growth. Obedience is not a popular concept in our current cultural climate, yet it is an essential aspect of a growing disciple. What we are often doing is “re-discipling disciples”. Here’s what I mean:

A man who was recently divorced was in a small small group I once led. He was still very much embedded in his friend group. As he took steps on his journey of faith, he eventually saw those relationships for what they were: some were life-giving, but others were not so much. One of the most difficult relationships he had was with his father. Over time, this relationship greatly improved. His relationships with his children improved. The role the small group took in his life was strategic: it helped put skin to his faith, support when needed, and lots of loving care.

Groups, when effective, can help established Christians grow into mature disciples who make disciples.

While there are lots of group formats to follow, there is one that is commonly used in the Disciple Making Movements Community which is conducive to a coach-approach. That means it helps people move from reflection to action by asking questions and listening for the Holy Spirit.

3 Thirds Groups – see

A three-thirds group is just what it sounds like: a group format that’s structured into three segments.

  • Looking Back: this first segment gives group members the opportunity to provide care and support for one another based on what’s happening in their individual lives. It also provides accountability for the goals each person set for themselves.
  • Looking Up: this second segment directs the group to “look up” to the Holy Spirit for direction, guidance, and revelation for the group’s journey through a passage of Scripture. What is the Spirit saying? What can we learn from this about God? About ourselves?
  • Looking Forward: this last segment offers the opportunity to look ahead and explore how each person can apply what they have learned or discovered.

This group format is designed in such a way that each group member is discovering more about God and themselves, growing in the process, and learning to make disciples.


Reflection Questions for the groups you envision:

  1. What is the purpose of our groups?
  2. What is the fruit of our groups?
  3. What can we tweak or re-envision for our groups?
  4. Brainstorm some ideas that would make a difference in the next 3-6 months?
  5. What is a practical step we can take to move towards that?


We would love to hear from you: have you ever been part of a small group where you experienced major growth as a disciple? What did that look like?




Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash


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