The personal context consists of groups of 4-12 people. This would be a small group in most churches. This was embodied in Jesus’ ministry in his work with the 12. As the group size decreases the connectivity increases. Our ability to be more transparent goes up with fewer, better connected people in the room.
Bobby and Alex give a lot of emphasis to how Jesus used this as his primary means of discipling. He certainly had his time with Peter, James and John but the Personal Context was his main disciple-making context and it can be for us as well.
For most of our small group ministries we have defaulted to fellowship and study. Most small group ministries are not intentionally developed to foster discipleship. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“If small groups are the primary context for personal discipleship, you will need an infrastructure to support this goal or the system will fall apart. Small group leaders can become disciple makers onlyl if they too are being discipled.” (p.137).
They give an outline of that infrastructure on page 138. I won’t list it here but will instead point you to buying their book because there is so much in this book I don’t have time to get into, nor should I tell you everything the say! I will also point you to chapter 9 in this book as well as “Real-life discipleship” by Jim Putman for more on how to make this happen. What a great book!
That means that church staff should be discipling group leaders so those leaders can in turn disciple those in their groups.
Chapter 8 closes listing three goals of the personal context along with some really great information on why these goals are appropriate for this context: Closeness, support, and challenge. Remember, each size group has its own set of size-specific goals.
Chapter 9 fleshes out how to make groups this size focused on discipleship. This covers everything from confidentiality to leader training. This is your “how to” section on how to create discipling groups this size. I believe a church could take their small group ministry and completely re-purpose it if they followed what is instructed in chapter 9. Again, go get this book…it will bless your ministry.