Summary: Christianity is all about personal relationships, seen best in the relational example of our Lord Jesus. He had relationships with the 120, the 72, the 12, the 3 and the 1. Unlike Moses, who had to be told by his father-in-law Jethro to work with manageab
Christianity is all about personal relationships, seen best in the relational example of our Lord Jesus. He had relationships with the 120, the 72, the 12, the 3 and the 1. Unlike Moses, who had to be told by his father-in-law Jethro to work with manageable numbers, Jesus focused on smaller groups of people.
Jesus’ model for discipleship is clearly presented in the pages of God’s Word including public ministry of preaching and teaching of the multitudes on the one hand and a more intense and personal ministry to the 12 and especially the 3 on the other.
We call this three-strand discipleship process the Crowd, the Cell, and the CORE (based on the patterns of three found throughout the Bible and especially as presented in Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” All three cords are essential and necessary if we desire to provide balance.
We recognize the vitally important relationship between congregational worship, cell groups and CORE groups as serving complimentary functions, much like a tripod. Three levels of community interaction and discipleship are required for balance: 1) the larger, public meeting of the whole assembly typically on Sunday mornings (12 or more, mixed gender); 2) the small group gathering whether in homes or in class rooms (8-12 members, mixed gender); and, 3) the intimate, one-on-one, one-on-two, or one-on-three CORE Group gatherings (2-4 members, gender specific).
For us to be able to teach, encourage, exhort, and pray for one another, we must focus on a more horizontal model – the very thing Jesus did with Peter, James and John – His inner CORE group. Obedience to Jesus’ commands requires an open, honest, safe, confidential sharing of burdens. This level of sharing requires a level of intimacy and transparency that demands a small number of people. At this level of intimacy where real life issues are openly shared before the group, it demands gender segregation – men with men, women with women – a biblical pattern and directive.
From personal experience, I have been discipled by guys who have an incredible place in my life, my testimony, and my spiritual development. The most significant periods of spiritual growth have taken place when I have been part of a core group of 2-4 others. This is no less true of the hundreds now embracing the CORE discipleship process.
Both experience and biblical pattern point to the same place: CORE Groups form a powerful, effective, and biblically mandated resource for ministry in the areas of real life transformation, loving God and others, discipleship, God’s Word, fellowship, communion, outreach, and prayer.
Jesus commands us to: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28;19, 20)
The Great Commission maintains one imperative and that is to "make disciples." The other action verbs are all subordinate to this main idea to make disciples. Jesus tells us, "Having gone, make disciples by baptizing and by teaching." So the goal of discipleship is to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
The first strand of the Great Commission is to "go" out into the world to represent Christ to a lost and dying world. Where you are is where you witness - that is your world. A disciple’s life becomes a living epistle.
The second strand of the Great Commission is to baptize new believers "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The Greek word to “baptize” (baptizo) literally means to immerse, something we are familiar with. However, throughout the New Testament this term means, "to identify with someone or something." This means that by placing faith in Christ we are identified with Him - identified with His death on the Cross, and identified through His resurrection into newness of life.
When Jesus told all believers in the church age to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, He was commanding us to teach all those who become disciples to think like Christ - our behavior is to be Christ-like. We are to have the same mind as Christ Jesus.
The third strand of the Great Commission is for us to, "Teach them to observe all that I commanded you.” Jesus taught His disciples how to live, and that is what He commands us to teach others - how to live.
The teaching that Jesus was talking about when He said teach them "to observe all that I commanded you" should change people’s lives. A transformed life is when a disciple has surrendered their life to Christ.