Being a pastor’s wife for many years, I know how extensive and tedious the role of discipleship can be. I also know that even Jesus knew he could not impact the world alone. He poured his life into twelve other men who then in turn poured their lives into their community. I must invest in just a few disciples at a time, like Jesus did, and prepare them to disciple others.
But what is discipleship without an ultimate goal? The link between success and failure involves the ability to carry out the purpose with intention. I have a purpose in mind when making disciples, but if I don’t intend to follow through with the plan to achieve the purpose, what good is it?
Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart talks about three keys to spiritual formation. He calls it the VIM diagram: Vision, Intention and Action. We have a vision for a goal to be transformed, we make an intention, or as Willard says: we decide to do it, and then we do it. We can have all of the visions for our life. We can even make a decision to do it. But, if there is no intention to it, we never follow through with the steps necessary to make that vision a reality. Willard explains, “Now, an intention is brought to completion only by a decision to fulfill or carry through with the intention… If the genuine intention is there, the deed reliably follows. But if it is not there, the deed will most likely not be there either.”1 We may have the good intentions to make disciples, but without a clear vision (which we will discuss in depth in chapter eleven), and then creating a plan after deciding to follow through with it, it will never happen.
This is where small groups come in. The accountability small groups provide help us to follow through with our calling to make disciples. Small groups provide accountability, help and support when discipleship becomes too difficult to do on our own.
Are you involved in a small group? How has being a part of a community helped you develop as a Christian? Share your stories below!
1 Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart. (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2002).