Discipleship Matters – Part 8
Dr. Michael Gossett

A Note from Michael Gossett



Connect Groups as the Primary Vehicle for Leader Development

As we move into part 8 of our study, we turn our attention to our Connect Group ministry. Our Connect Group ministry (in which many of you serve!) should always be moving people toward the target of discipleship. Our Connect Group ministry should always be developing leaders according to the model of Jesus. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Although it can be argued that this passage describes the marriage relationship, it is still clear from Scripture that man was meant to live in community. From the very beginning we were created for community. Carolyn Taketa says, “What is striking about this statement is that God makes it before the Fall. There’s no sin yet and no disobedience; man is in perfect intimacy with God. And yet, God declares that man is alone and that it is not good.”[1]

For believers to live together in community not only reflects the nature and character of God, but it shapes us in the nature of Christ. Bill Hull says, “The small group is the most strategic training environment used by Christ to make the kind of disciples that glorify God.”[2]  Healthy groups reflect Christ when they reach the marginalized, express hospitality to those not connected to a church, and aid those in physical need.[3] As believers gather, they are encouraged to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) They are encouraged to see their own role in the Great Commission. In fact, at the heart of the Great Commission, we see a need for small group ministry. When Jesus proclaimed the Great Commission, He spoke with a small group. In the book of Matthew, this is prescriptive as well as descriptive, meaning the Great Commission is charged to the men present as well as all believers. The small group (the Disciples) is now charged with the task of making disciples of all nations. According to Ephesians 4:12, Paul aspired to equip the saints for service just as Jesus had done with the twelve.

Jesus’ illustration about mending nets correlates to the delicate process of maturing disciples.[4] Both the model of Jesus, as well as the model found through the New Testament, serve as a foundation for a healthy church to implement God’s plan within small group ministry. Mark Dever examines Jesus’ pattern of discipleship by suggesting, “But the goal is always to present people mature in Christ.”[5] Those who are in the small group learn this by growing in community with others. Ferguson identifies a pattern for growth consistent with Acts 2 where the small group celebrated, connected, and contributed.[6] To celebrate implies worshiping God in community with other believers. To connect describes the healthy relationship patterns found within the small group. To contribute describes our posture of participating in a group not only for what we gain from others, but for how we can contribute to others. Joel Comiskey says, “Koinonia is the fellowship that we have with the Trinity that needs to be practiced with other believers.”[7] Christians are called to serve alongside other believers in love for the purpose of Kingdom advancement. Jesus declared, in fact, that the world would recognize His disciples based on their love for one another. While individual growth is important, the disciple flourishes as he serves in community with other believers pursuing the same calling.[8] As we see in the example of Jesus, discipleship and leadership are fostered through small group relationships.

Love is both exercised and experienced in community. Love is never intended to end with an individual, but rather to express itself to another. Love serves as a mark of discipleship; it is by love for one another that we will be identified as followers of Jesus.[9] This type of Christlike love is beautifully expressed in our church every week through our Connect Group ministry. God designed man to reflect His likeness, according to Genesis chapter one. Comiskey also adds, “The Trinity dwells in perfect unity and community. God is not a lone individualist, and this fact should stir God’s people away from a rugged individualism (‘How can I do my thing?’) to community-oriented living (‘How can I serve the Body of Christ?’).”[10] God Himself functions in perfect community, putting Himself on display as the example of how individuals can interact with one another. The Trinity, consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, exemplifies the art of living in complete unity. Connect Groups help to fight the tendency for believers to hide in anonymity. When a believer is separated from community, it is not healthy for the individual or the church. Instead, Christians should live in the openness and accountability that biblical fellowship provides. Within the context of small group and individual growth, the foundational practices of prayer and devotion to God’s Word transform lives.[11] It’s for this reason that we say at Green Acres that Connect Groups are the primary way in which we make disciples!

CONSIDER THIS: What is your part in the Great Commission according to God’s word? I love the free resource offered at GABC called, “Discipleship Guide.” This guide is designed specifically as a resource to help you walk with others in a discipleship relationship. Grab someone from your Connect Group, a friend, a mentor, or someone younger and just commit to going through the Discipleship Guide together. I know you will be amazed at the fruit from relationships such as this. Hold each other accountable. Pray for one another. Grow together in the likeness of Christ. Stay tuned next week for more…


THIS SUNDAY: We are continuing our study, ANCHORED, as we dive into what Peter describes as being “Anchored in Marriage.” Whether you are have been married for many years, newlyweds, engaged, or single, the Lord has a message for you. Peter helps us understand what it looks like to have a Christ-centered marriage even amid cultural breakdowns.

GREEN ACRES CLASSIC: We are looking forward to the inaugural Green Acres Classic golf tournament hosted by the Green Acres Baptist Church Foundation this coming Monday, September 26, 2022, at Willow Brook Country Club. All proceeds will benefit the next generation of ministry leaders by supporting the Residency Program.   The newly developed Residency Program is designed specifically for those called to full-time vocational ministry. Residents serve on our ministry staff for one year while being developed and discipled by our staff team. They have an opportunity to further their ministry education through a partnership with East Texas Baptist University.   Maybe you don’t play golf or cannot participate in the tournament this year, but you can still support this incredible new ministry of the church. Your support of the Green Acres Classic is an eternal investment that goes beyond the boundaries of this world! Please click this link to support this ministry. To learn more about the Green Acres Baptist Church Foundation, visit GABC.org/foundation.

JOURNEYS OF PAUL TRIP: I would like to invite you to join Katie & me on an amazing journey retracing the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. The trip will be September 17-26, 2023. We will step into history and walk alongside Paul as we journey through Philippi, Thessaloniki, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Crete, Patmos, and Ephesus. The Holy Scriptures will come to life in unimaginable ways! This will be a trip of a lifetime that promises to forever change all of us! For more information on this trip, click the image below:


I cannot wait to worship with you this Sunday!


You are loved and prayed for!

Michael Gossett

[1] Carolyn Taketa, “Why Small Groups? The Reason Behind Intentional Christian Community,” SmallGroups.com (blog), Christianity Today, June 25, 2012, accessed April 27, 2018, https://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2012/why-small-groups.html?paging=off

[2] Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), 235.

[3] Joel Comiskey, Biblical Foundations for the Cell-Based Church, 56.

[4] Ray C. Stedman, Body Life (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, 1995), 116.

[5] Mark Dever, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016), 35.

[6] Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson, Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Movement, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 93.

[7] Joel Comiskey, Making Disciples in the Twenty-First Century Church, (Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing, 2013), 50.

[8] Ritva H. Williams, Stewards, Prophets, Keepers of the Word, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), 30.

[9] Keith Phillips, The Making of a Disciple, (Los Angeles, CA: World Impact Press, 1981), 59.

[10] Joel Comiskey, Biblical Foundations for the Cell-Based Church, (Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing, 2012), 43.

[11] Glen Martin and Gary McIntosh, Creating Community: Deeper Fellowship Through Small Group Ministry, (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1997), 6.