Q: What’s a MEET UP?
A: A MEET UP is anytime a minimum of 2 people get together for the purpose of growing through the STAGES.
PHILOSOPHY AND FORMAT OF MEET UPS
Spiritual growth happens when we know, love, trust, and obey God. We suggest that your meet ups be set up in a way to foster a “whole self” response to God as modeled in scripture:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
The focus should be on what people need to know, feel and do to move forward in their faith. We call this a HEAD/HEART/HAND approach. Focusing on one aspect of HEAD/HEART/HAND and ignoring the others is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Our maturity comes in the overlap of our knowledge, affections, and obedience. If we over-emphasize one aspect of HEAD/HAND/HEART because of our personal wiring (“I grow only through information”) or our spiritual environment (“We grow only through ecstatic experiences”), we can become spiritually imbalanced. We suggest you address this need for balance with your meet up format in two ways.
A BALANCED APPROACH TO GROWTH AREAS
FIRST, choose to focus on growth areas that include what you need to know (HEAD), feel (HEART), and do (HAND). We provide a growth track for each STAGE that emphasizes this approach as seen below.
Helping someone know something through information and do something through accountability is pretty straightforward. Helping someone “feel” something is a bit trickier. We’ll suggest some resources and designed experiences as we find them but prayer, meditating on Scripture and the conviction of the Holy Spirit are the main tools for turning our affections toward God.
A BALANCED APPROACH TO TIME SPENT IN MEETUPS
SECOND, divide the time in your meet ups between Spiritual Care (HEART), Spiritual Instruction (HEAD), and Spiritual Exercise (HAND). We recommend:
- 30 minutes of exploring heart issues and praying
- 30 minutes of teaching/learning and asking questions
- 30 minutes of planning specific action steps
We provide options on how to explore heart issues and questions that help us process and apply what we are learning. It’s also critical to translate what God is saying to us into action. We provide goals in 4 major areas:
- GET ALONE WITH GOD GOALS of personal prayer, study and worship
- BODY LIFE GOALS of gathering with and serving the family of God
- GIVING GOD CONTROL GOALS by recognizes areas in which you need to submit to God
- GO AND SHARE GOALS with people you know and people you don’t
Here is what a MEET UP guide looks like.
Remember that you only choose one option in the Spiritual Care section but you answer all the questions in Spiritual Instruction. You also need to choose a goal for each section in Spiritual Exercise.
FREQUENCY AND GROUPING OF MEET UPS
FREQUENCY FOR NEW BELIEVERS
The frequency and grouping of meet ups is flexible to your context but we do have some recommendations. New BELIEVERS especially need to meet at a higher frequency than a DISCIPLE training to be a DISCIPLE MAKER for example. We recommend getting together with new BELIEVERS at least once a week for the first 6-8 weeks. Scripture identifies this as a crucial time and so should we (Matthew 13:18-23). Babies are highly dependent on parents because they don’t know how to take care of themselves. The same can be said of BELIEVERS.
FOR EVERYONE ELSE
For everyone else, we recommend an every-other-week frequency for personal discipleship using the STAGES approach. This leaves time for participation in other things like small groups and other activities. Discipleship is not for a season in a Christian’s life but a continual part of spiritual growth. It is a life long process and we should engineer our personal discipleship relationships for the long haul. Meet ups should be designed to last 90 minutes and to balance people’s tendency to either just socialize or just get into material. We want to help you make the best use of the time you commit to discipleship.
HOW MANY SHOULD MEET FOR A meetup?
Again, flexibility is necessary for each context but keep in mind that the larger the group, the more difficult it is to personalize their discipleship. We recommend groups of three or triads. Ideally you would have a DISCIPLE MAKER, a DISCIPLE, and either a BELIEVER or CURIOUS person meeting together in a triad. DISCIPLES are essentially DISCIPLE MAKERS in training if they are growing. They know how to feed themselves spiritually but need to learn how to feed others. In some cases, one-on-ones are necessary but not ideal. Any meet up between a DISCIPLE MAKER and a BELIEVER is potential training for a DISCIPLE.
MEETING WITH PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT STAGES
If you are meeting in a triad of people in different STAGES you have to be creative in how you can go over STAGE specific material for each. Here is one solution for a DISCIPLE MAKER, DISCIPLE, BELIEVER triad.
This solution can be used with any combination of STAGES in your meetups. An important question is “when does a DISCIPLE MAKER meet with someone for their own growth?” We recommend that DISCIPLE MAKERS meet with each other or with church leadership once a month for mutual encouragement and accountability. The frequency may slow for them but the challenge of meeting with DISCIPLES, BELIEVERS, and the CURIOUS will also spark its own growth in the DISCIPLE MAKER’S life.
STAGES IN CHURCHES AND LARGER GROUPS
A few existing churches use STAGES for disciple making in their ministry (ROOTS, Fellowship Pickering, Fellowship Rouge Park). Everyone uses the format that fits them best. One format that churches have used is alternating between personalized STAGES discipleship and life group meetings on a weekly basis. For one week, a group of 8-12 gets together either for Bible Study or a Fellowship Dinner or a combination of the two. The next week, triads meet for STAGES discipleship.
You can also use Discipleship Labs as church-wide events to tackle Growth Areas that you may want to bring in a special speaker for their expertise (prayer, Bible Study methods, evangelism, etc). It’s also possible to have larger groups of 10-15 to get together and then break off into smaller groups for STAGES. Just keep in mind that in order for STAGES to be effective you want there to be a consistent relationship with a disciple maker, specific growth steps for the STAGE a person is in, and a long haul approach.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT MATERIAL FOR MEET UPS
After choosing which STAGE you are working with on the HOME page, you can choose from a list of Growth Areas to work on for that STAGE. After clicking on a suggested Growth Area, you can choose from different material to go over in the Spiritual Instruction time. Meet ups usually work better when everyone looks at the material on their own and then comes together ready to discuss it. This will ultimately depend on the level of “buy-in” from the participants but don’t be afraid to ask people to do the work. Most of the materials are free, online resources and we provide a link for downloading. Some material, like books, have to be purchased from the vendor of your choice. Although sometimes necessary, it’s not our intent to create our own discipleship material. We only want to categorize material that already exists according to the STAGE it is appropriate for. We divide up the Growth Areas into things to know, feel and do as seen in the screenshot.
We also provide a suggested Leader’s Guide to help you prepare ahead of time for your meet up. Here is a sample Leader’s Prep Guide.
If you are ready to get started, go back to the HOME page and select the STAGE you want resources for. If you still unclear about how STAGES works, go to the STAGES EXPLAINED page and look things over.