Group Fundamentals: 5 Essentials

By Paul Wilkinson

Here’s a helpful article from Ed Stetzer that was in Christianity Today in 2015. Most of these elements apply directly to our groups and are good handles for thinking through our L.I.F.E. expressions.  The 5 Elements are:

1.  Mission Orientation

Does your LIFE Group have a mission statement so that anyone who were to “randomly” wander in would know what the group is about?

2.  Word-Driven Mentality

You guys, as the F leaders, are doing so well at teaching the Bible to your groups. The next steps are to be sure that you are helping your group members to both learn to read their Bibles regularly and to read them well (historical, cultural, literary, and in text context).

3.  Multiplication Mindset

Are you raising up leaders, and I mean not just F leaders (teachers) but I, F, and E leaders, who will begin a group of their own one day?

4.  Stranger Welcoming

Is your group hospitable such that people are met warmly, kindly, and graciously? Some easy things to do are: be on time, stand rather than sit until the prayer or teaching time starts, welcome folks at the door and introduce them to someone, wear nametags and bring food as you are able.

5.  Kingdom-Focused

I’ve been incredibly impressed during spring meetings with how much ongoing community service you guys are leading through your groups. Let me continue to encourage you to raise up E leaders who champion that work and to continue inviting the lost and searching along with you as you serve. And, oh yeah, share those stories with our congregation!

Here’s the full Stetzer article.

Paul Wilkinson is the Adult Groups–Associate Minister, Brentwood Baptist Church.


The Necessity of Reproducibility

By Paul Wilkinson

The question is simple, yet profound: Are we leading in a way that those in our group can readily imitate? If we are not, then we are stifling the multiplication of our work and we are falling short of the blessings the Lord intends for us.

As we look at what Jesus did with the disciples following the call of Matthew 4:19, we see the reproducible pattern of Jesus: preach, teach, heal. Preach the truth of the kingdom of God; teach the truths of God’s character and will; heal the sick, etc.[1] Paul writes to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

For many years I did not operate with the idea of leading through achievable, mimicable patterns. I taught doctrine and apologetics for at least three years to hundreds of Brentwood Baptist members and contacts. For me, the content was king, and if I gave sufficient content coupled with challenging application, then a movement of faith would necessarily ensue.

Far from it, the teaching stopped when I stopped. I never reproduced myself. In my zeal to share the depth of my philosophical learning and my excitement to tie these great truths to the work of sharing our faith, I set the bar so high that no one was willing to follow. Moreover, I never asked anyone to follow! If you didn’t have 4-5 years to devote to philosophical study, you wouldn’t be able to do what I was doing.

So, was I discpling well? Was I leading well? I would say no, because those groups and classes don’t exist anymore because I have moved to other things. It is exciting to do inductive studies on our own to plumb the great truths of the Scriptures, but if we are not apprenticing one or two people, then all of our learning dies with us. It is fun to develop our own lessons around interesting topics like apologetics and ethics, but if we are not apprenticing one or two people, then all of our learning dies with us.

We only have two options if we want to be faithful to Jesus’ reproducible model: take apprentices to learn to do what you do or get on a base curriculum that people can handle in your absence. But it’s not just teachers: prayer list leaders, follow-up leaders, outreach/mission leaders, and fellowship leaders all need to be reproducing themselves by inviting someone else along to learn to do what you do.

Pray, pray, pray . . . and pray some more for the Lord to bring you apprentices and for you to be faithful to them. I begged the Lord for the bulk of last year to send me a handful of young men that I could lead; the cabinet was bare. When the Lord convicted me over Christmas break that I didn’t have a reproducible model for them and I submitted to that conviction, I have found myself knee deep in young men hungry for the Word and hungry to learn to lead people toward Christlikeness in the first two months of this year. I pray the same for you.

If you haven’t thus far been able to heal people, as is the case with me, then minister to them through presence, nurture, and the rest. Note that Job’s friends are indicted not for their lack of healing their friend, rather they were indicted for speaking falsely about the Lord.



LIFE Groups Living on Mission: Robin Petty Edition

By Paul Wilkinson, Adult Minister–Groups Associate, Brentwood Campus

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live on mission with Jesus. At least once a month (or as frequently as possible, so send me stories!), I want to share stories of LIFE Groups and LIFE Group members living on mission with Jesus. May we be perpetually living into the “Good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Read, pray over, and meditate upon Robin Petty’s story with the 10th grade girls’ Wednesday evening LIFE Group; how she follows her passion to mentor and teach the NEXT Generation:

When I was a teenager, I was very active in my youth group. I loved being involved for many reasons, but one major reason was because of the adult leadership. I always knew when I grew up I would serve in youth ministry. Sure enough, my husband Justin and I served in our church in Atlanta for about 10 years and in our church in Kentucky for about 5. I am currently leading a Brentwood Baptist girls-sophomore small group on Wednesday nights.

I have found through the years that teenagers have much to offer. They are funny, inquisitive, spontaneous, sensitive, and want to be the best they can be.

Justin and I also teach a LIFE Group on Sunday morning called Married Life Together. I love being able to share all of the positive things I experience from spending time with the youth. Since most of our class has younger children, it’s great to be able to share with them all of the things teenagers have to contribute and what they can look forward to with their own children.