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Discipling Communities

Discipling Communities

The purpose of the discipling community is to fulfill the great commission by making disciples through rhythmic practices of mission, discipleship and soul care.

A “discipling” community is a cellular church gathering of our larger corporate body. While it has a lot in common with the “small group” of many churches today, it also has clear distinctives and purposes. Most “small group” programs of local churches function to serve an enlarging body for the sake of keeping people connected and not getting proverbially “lost in the crowd.” They are primarily used as a retention tool. This is a noble goal, but it is also not the primary reason behind discipling communities.

In the same manner, discipling communities also have some overlap with house churches, but again, there are distinctions. One area where they are closely aligned with home churches is in pastoral soul care. They are not just about relationships, but for edifying and nurturing people in the Gospel. An area where they diverge though, is that they are not an island to themselves, but are part of a larger community where they not only come together for corporate worship, but they are under the oversight and authority of a properly ordained body of leaders.

Probably the most distinctive feature of discipling communities is their outward focus. Small group programs and many house churches can often be insular (but not always). They often have a big emphasis on “fellowship” but without a clearly defined emphasis on forming disciples. Discipling communities however have built into them the concept of making new disciples. This means they purposefully focus on fostering relationships with people who do not know the Gospel, so they can become part of the community and be valued, and nurtured to faith in Christ. So they differ from small groups in that socializing is not the main intent. Rather the main goal is spiritual formation and the fostering of repentance through community. This is why we speak often of “building-up” one another as one of our key values in these groups.

A great way to define discipling communities is as a church extending from a church. They are not eggs to be merely protected, but rather more like tentacles of the Church extending out into the culture. They are designed to stretch out and infiltrate neighborhoods, communities and networks of relationships, by stretching Christians themselves.

There are Discipling Communities forming in the Triboro area.  Call Bridgeway if you want to be a part of one or start one yourself.  (973)595-6235.

pdf Discipling Communities Manifesto