From time to time, people ask me, “What was the difference that made the difference at Brainerd Baptist Church?” The answer is easy: discipleship.

When I arrived as senior pastor at Brainerd in 2008, only a handful of people were meeting in intentional D-Groups, or a group of three to five people who meet weekly for the express purpose of becoming disciples who make disciples.

Beginning with my pastoral staff, I redesigned the weekly three-hour business/staff meeting into a D-Group, focusing on Scripture reading and memorization (we memorized the entire book of 2 Timothy in 2009) and extended prayer times. The atmosphere changed overnight.

After a year of meeting, I challenged the staff to identify two or three people to meet with in a D-Group (men with men, and women with women). During my second year at Brainerd, we estimated that one hundred people were meeting in D-Groups. In 2014, we expect to have more than one thousand people meeting in D-Groups throughout our fellowship. Keep in mind, the individuals meeting are in addition to small-group Bible study and Sunday school attendance. Sunday school classes and small groups are the seedbeds for building D-Group relationships.

Our church’s mission statement, “Deliver, Disciple, and Deploy,” was formative in shaping the DNA of our congregation. People in a church will always celebrate what the pastor celebrates. If the pastor celebrates bodies, bucks, or buildings, the people will perceive those as most important, and they will become the measure of success. However, when the pastor highlights restoring relationships, transforming lives, and maturing believers within the D-Groups, people will soon desire to participate in a group. When I started celebrating what God was doing in D-Groups, our people quickly followed.

How to Use the Material

If you are serious about being a disciple of Jesus Christ—really, truly serious—you will become a part of a D-Group. Again, Jesus Himself established this model for us. He formed and personally led the first D-Group—and it worked. The men who emerged from that group took the gospel to the world, and ultimately, they laid down their lives for Christ.

A D-Group creates an atmosphere for fellowship, encouragement, and accountability, and it is an environment where God can work. A healthy D-Group has three purposes: to help you grow in your relationship with Christ, give a defense for your faith, and guide others in their relationship with Christ.

You may be thinking, “How do I get in a D-Group? Where can I find one?” Ask your pastor or another church leader about the availability of groups in your church. If your church doesn’t have such groups, find a mature Christian who is willing to lead the group and two or three other believers who want to grow in their walk with the Lord, and start a group. Who knows? God may want to use you to begin this movement in your church.

As you mature in your faith, those in the group can eventually start and lead other groups. This book will equip you to do just that.

Gallaty, Robby. 2013. Growing up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples. Nashville, TN: B&H Books.