I don't know how I missed this article by Robby Butler when it first came out. Thanks to Richard Hagler for sending it on.
Jesus used group interaction to train1 His followers to become disciples—fully equipped to train others in complete, Spirit-led, loving obedience to all His commands. Where Jesus’ training model is adapted today, the results are still “turning the world upside down.”
Jesus is recorded twenty times in the New Testament as saying “Follow me.” This command brought a small group into a training relationship—with Jesus and with one another. Through these relationships Jesus turned His disciples into “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17),2 and trained them in loving obedience (Jn 14:15) to train others (Mt 28:19–20).
Following His resurrection, Christ commissioned those He had trained to wait for the Holy Spirit’s empowering (Ac 1:4), and then train all peoples to obey everything He had commanded (Mt 28:19–20). Jesus didn’t explain in advance everything His disciples would need to know; instead He gave them His Holy Spirit to continue their training after His departure (Jn 16:13). With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowering, the disciples then trained others to follow Jesus just as He had trained them—through modeling, practice, transparency and discussion.3
Consider these essential components of what Jesus gave the disciples:
• A living example of what complete obedience looks like. • Training in working with the Holy Spirit.
• Guided experience to develop appropriate skills.
• Group obedience to overcome individual hesitance.
• Clear assignments, feedback and correction.
• Empowering disciples to make other disciples.
The Church in Acts had no written record of Jesus’ teach- ings, and Jesus drew others to Himself so quickly that there were soon too many followers for most to have direct contact with the Twelve. Yet despite the unavail- ability of the tools we depend on today, explosive growth continued as Jesus-followers received Spirit-led ministry from one another in small groups (1 Co 14:26). This reproducible group process resulted in multiplying, Spirit-led, loving obedience to Jesus which rapidly drew yet others to follow Him.