What is an Awaken D-Group (that is, a ‘Discipleship Group’)?

Discipleship is important at Awaken; it’s an essential process for every believer that provides intimate friendships, an environment of accountability, and most importantly, it cultivates a life rooted deeply in God’s Word.

Here at Awaken, the way we translate discipleship into practical action is by participating in a year-long Discipleship Group, or a “D-Group.” A D-Group is a gender specific, closed group of 3-5 believers who meet together weekly or every other week for the purpose of accelerated spiritual transformation. A person joins the D-Group by invitation only, with most D-Groups being formed out of relationships that started in an Awaken Group.

Are you ready to go deeper in your walk with Christ? Talk to your Awaken Group leader or immediate community about starting a D-Group, and check out the resources below for help in getting started.

How do I find a D-Group?

If you would like to be in a D-Group, the first step on the pathway is to join an Awaken Group. If you are currently in an Awaken Group and desire to be in a D-Group, talk to your Awaken Group leader(s); you may also contact Seth Gulsby if your Group Leader doesn’t have all the information at this time (email preferable: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., subject line = “D-Groups info request”)

When do I send out disciples to make disciples? How will I know when they’re ready?

 Always begin with the end in mind. Your group should meet for 12 months, and they should expect that final date from the very beginning. Some groups develop a closer bond, which results in accelerated growth; others take longer.  Some group members will desire to leave the group and begin their own groups. Others, however, will want to remain in the comfort zone of the existing group. Some will not want to start another D-Group because of the sweet fellowship and bonds formed within the current group. In the waning months (last 3-4 months of your time together), be intentional about equipping D-Group participants (mentees) by allowing the each 1-2 times to act as group leader for a week, providing them constructive criticism after each attempt.  Remember, the goal is for the men and the women of the group to replicate their lives into someone else; the players become the coaches and start their own D-Groups.  Use the MARCS acronym to subjective assess a mentee’s spiritual maturity and readiness to lead his/her own D-Group.  Let not your heart be troubled!  The Spirit will lead in this effort!

How do I choose disciples?

The first step in establishing a formal disciple-making relationship is choosing disciples. Jesus, our example in selecting disciples, spent time in prayer before selecting men (Luke 6:12-16). The word disciple means learner. Begin by asking God to send you a group of men or women who have a desire to learn and grow.

When people approached Jesus about becoming His disciples, our Lord held a high standard.  One man said, “I’ll follow You, but let me go bury my father.” Jesus said something like, “You can’t do that. The kingdom is too important.” Understand that the man’s father had not yet died; he wanted to wait until after his father died.

Like Jesus’ relationship with His disciples, ours is a serious relationship, a relationship built upon a mutual commitment to Christ and each other. Tragically, some will not follow through with that commitment, forcing you to confront them about their unfaithfulness. Occasionally, it may become necessary for you to ask someone to leave the group. In my years of leading D-Groups, on two occasions I’ve had to go to an unfaithful group member and say, “Listen, I love you, brother. I want to work with you, but at this stage in your life, your actions are telling me this is not a good time. Maybe we can meet in the future, when you are at a different place in your spiritual walk.” As painful as this is, it rarely happens. But when it does, always be careful to handle it in a manner that edifies the uncommitted believer.

Your D-Group should consist of F.A.I.T.H. believers: Faithful, Available, Intentional, Teachable, and Humble. A faithful person is dedicated, trustworthy, and committed. Consider a potential disciple’s faithfulness by observing other areas of his/her spiritual life, such as church attendance, small group involvement, or service in the church. Faithfulness is determined by a commitment to spiritual things.

Should I disciple unbelievers?

It is possible to do D-Groups with both believers and unbelievers present. My preferred method is a gathering of born-again believers (that is, the Holy Spirit has regenerated their hearts and they have converted to Christ through faith and repentance) seeking to grow in their faith. How do you determine if someone is saved or not? I begin every group cycle by asking each person to share their testimony with the others. Next, ask them to explain the gospel. A great resource for anyone struggling with belief in Christ is Greg Gilbert’s book, What is the Gospel? A few years ago, a guy in my group surrendered his life to Christ after six weeks of meeting because he “never understood the gospel prior to our meeting.”

How many people should be in the group?

Because accountability works well in a smaller setting, the ideal size of a disciple-making group is 3 to 5 – you and 2 to 4 other people. We recommend that you do not have more than 5, and remember that a one-on-one relationship is not ideal.

Where should we meet?

Find a meeting place away from the church. Restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, diners, and homes are all good options. Meeting outside the church in the community encourages your group members to publicize their faith, teaching them it is okay to read the Bible at a restaurant or pray in public. Be sure to select a place that is convenient to all group members.

How often should we meet?

Ideally, you should meet once a week for about an 60-90 minutes; once every other week is acceptable as well. This schedule does not prohibit those you are discipling from calling you throughout the week or coming by for counsel when needed. It is important to remember that discipleship is about the relationship between you and your group members, not about checking a requirement box. Disciple-making is a way of life, not a program.

Is there an attendance requirement?

Yes, and it is not negotiable. The first time I meet with a potential group, I explain the disciple-making covenant with them. Since we’re going to spend our lives together for the next twelve to eighteen months, I want to know if they are committed. Some people have said after the initial meeting, “Uh, this isn’t really for me. I’m not interested.” That’s okay. I allow potential disciples to opt out of the group on the front end after understanding the expectations spelled out in the disciple-making covenant. Remember, you are looking for people who want to be discipled, people who have a desire to grow and learn. An unwillingness to commit reveals that they are not ready to be in a D-Group. It’s the example Jesus set for us.

What do D-Group meetings look like?

Begin with prayer. Ask each participant to present one prayer request at the start of each meeting. Assign a person to pray over the requests, and ask the Lord to sharpen each of you through your relationship.

Here are some elements that your weekly meetings can include:

Open with prayer.

Have a time of intentional conversation by briefly sharing the highs and lows of the week. You can also share celebrations and praises.

Quote your Scripture memory verses for the week.

Study the Word of God together. A great way to do this is to share HEAR journals from the week. The goal of studying the Bible is to apply the Word of God. Remember, knowledge without application is useless information.

Here are some good application questions to utilize:

What are you hearing from God, and what are you doing about it?
What is God teaching you, and how is it affecting your life?
Is there a promise to claim?
Is there an action or attitude to avoid?
Is there a principle to apply?
Spend a few moments asking questions and keeping each other accountable. All accountability should be saturated with grace, not legalism. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.
Share prayer requests and close with prayer.

What if I don’t know the answer to a question?

There is no shame in not knowing all of the answers to every question. Simply confess that you may not have all the answers, but you will find them. Then do so before the next meeting. Ask your pastor or another spiritual leader to help you with the answer. Never give the impression that you have all the answers.

It is less important to know answers than it is to know how to seek them. It is better to say, “I am not the smartest man in the world because I know all the answers, but because I know where to find the answers.” You may not have total recall when it comes to biblical history, theology, and doctrine, but with time you can locate them!

When should I disinvite someone (ask someone to leave the group)?

This happens but very, very infrequently. Someone should be asked to leave the group for reasons such as these: they are not teachable in spirit, or they are not faithful in attending or completing the assigned work. Teachability is an indispensable quality for growth. One past disciple-maker said he asked an individual to leave the group because that person monopolized the discussion week after week (even after honest requests to tone down), and it became apparent that said individual wanted to demonstrate his knowledge of the Word, rather than learn from interacting with others.

Additionally, laziness (lack of availability) will breed complacency in the group. Missing meetings, refusing to memorize Scripture, failing to log H.E.A.R. entries, or sitting idly by during discussion times lowers the morale of the others in the group. This type of behavior must be addressed immediately. Meet with this individual privately to inquire about his/her attitude and actions. Remind him/her of the commitment made at the outset of the discipleship relationship. Other reasons may require dismissing a group member. For example, a group member exhibiting a breach of confidentiality or is judgmental/critical/condemning toward others in the group may have to be removed.

How do I dig deeper into the Bible?

In order to study the Bible in depth, you will use some study tools, beginning with a Bible dictionary. In addition to a Bible dictionary, it is important to have a good study Bible (the ESV Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, the Nelson NKJV Study Bible, and the NIV Study Bible include helpful commentary on each verse). Additionally, Bible study software with a collection of helpful tools is very affordable.  Also, the MacArthur Study Bible has an app ($5.99 on Google Play & iTunes) with all of Pastor John MacArthur’s marginal study notes from decades of bible teaching. Finally, the bible is available to you for free with the YouVersion Bible App, complete with hundreds of reading plans and devotionals.

How do I challenge my D-Group to memorize Scripture?

Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” How many times has a Scripture come to mind when you needed just the right words in a situation? Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance all that He said (John 14:26). Those passages of Scripture we have memorized will be brought to our memory at the right moment—but we must learn them. Group members will memorize Scripture if you hold them accountable through reciting verses to one another at every meeting. I highly commend the free app “Remember Me” on iTunes/Google Play for help memorizing Bible verses (helps create digital flash cards and a number memorizing tricks).