Up Close and Personal

Tuesday I had a great conversation with one of my buddies who works at another church about the method of discipleship in each of our churches. Churches try to tackle the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in a lot of different ways: through large group growth, small group growth, a lecture format, hands-on service projects, one-on-one relationships, and about a thousand permutations of each.

As I talked about the method I prefer, I was reminded of something I heard Howard Hendricks say a long time ago: "You can impress anyone from a distance; you can only impact up close."

To me, there is just no substitute for life-on-life, intentional discipleship. The level of intimacy, degree of accountability, and ability to laser-focus biblical principles in the most personally relevant ways can't be replicated in even a relatively small group. You can fake out a large or small group from a distance with any reasonable talent in deception.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in small groups. I believe in large groups. But when it comes to having the greatest impact for my buck, I'll choose life-on-life relationships every day.