Having written the last post on how Jesus trained his
disciples, yesterday I came across a key point that I had missed. I discovered it on the blog of Paul
Watson (http://bit.ly/cqS21C ).
His premise is that "Jesus discipled groups." Obviously he had one-on-one interactions with individual
disciples, but most of his training was done in groups.
What do we learn from this?
As I have mentioned in other posts, there are only one or
two examples of individuals becoming followers of Jesus in the book of Acts (Paul
and the Ethiopian eunuch). Mostly
it was households (Lydia and her household, Cornelius and his household
etc.). It seems likely that as
these groups became followers of Jesus together, they would have learned to
follow Jesus together too.
If we lead individuals to Christ and extract them from their
oikos by bringing them to our (house) church, we lose the opportunity to bring
a group of people to Christ. We
find ourselves working with individuals rather than seeing a group growing in
Jesus lived life with a group of disciples. Yes, he spent time with Peter, James and John, but the majority of his training was in the context of a larger group. He used their interactions with each
other as training times. He taught
them principles as a group.
We are part of a group that spends protracted time listening to God. The Lord told us when we started that there were things he could teach us as a group that he would not be able to teach us as individuals.
My question: What if this is true in the context of maturing in our faith walk too. What if there is something about learning together as a group that is important? Maybe it's the interactions and accountability, or the varied experience of the participants. Studies show that collaborative learning is more effective than individual learning. One study states "the collaborative learning medium provided students with opportunities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas cooperatively. The informal setting facilitated discussion and interaction. This group interaction helped students to learn from each other’s scholarship, skills, and experiences." This was particularly true in the areas of critical thinking and problem-solving. (Journal of Technology Education Fall 1995)
Now admittedly these studies are in the context of academics, but I'm guessing they apply in other areas too. And I'm not trying to knock individual discipleship–I've seen too many positive results in the lives of other people. But what if Jesus demonstrated to us a better way?
What do you think?
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3 replies on “Why Jesus worked with groups”
Great insights here!
I was already teaching strongly the aspect of groups conversion and how we’ve seen that playing out in house churches in Brazil.
I had not actually stopped long enough to realize that Paul and the Ethiopian were the only individual conversions in the Book of Acts. Thanks for that insight!
I’ve been thinking about this for a while myself. Even Paul discipled the group at Ephesus at the school he started of Tyrannus.
I am somewhat lost and without a response when a certain friend comments “I don’t need to attend church. I read my Bible daily and converse with God everywhere – when I am alone”. She is very critical of “organized” religion and will not attend any group meetings. “I don’t need it”. Now I have a little more ammunition – Thank you!