I visited a church this weekend to do some training for them in the area of core team leadership (versus the old leader-apprentice model used so widely around the world).
One thing I found in this church that I was very pleased to see was a strong push for and a healthy subculture of one-on-one discipleship, much like one might find in the Navigators.
This church has discovered that if new believers aren't discipled one-on-one for the first 90 days, they'll fall away from the church and the commitment they made to God through Christ's work on the cross.
When I asked about day 91 and beyond, I was told, "That's why you're here. Small group life takes over there and we need to strengthen our small groups."
The visit to this church clarified a couple of things for me:
1. One-to-one discipleship is far superior to classroom methods or even small group discipleship. It sharpens the disciple maker as much as it does the person being discipled, and creates a leader of one.
2. Small groups have their unique benefits, but are not enough to disciple the members of the groups. They need the one-on-one relationships in addition to the small group friendships and ministry environment.
3. The combination of the two is seriously powerful. Doing either with great competence will yield some fruit for sure, but put them together and BAM!, it's kicked up a notch to a level that is truly dangerous to the enemy's strategy in the life of a believer.
I know I blog about discipleship all the time and you're probably sick and tired of me harping on it. However, I just have to keep blogging about it until the parts of the body of Christ—who have chosen to "do church" through small groups—value discipleship every bit as much as they value the small groups themselves.