Adult Growth Groups Conclude 1-on-1 Discipleship Training with the New “Life for God” Series
7 Jan 2024
From May to November of 2023, Adult Growth Groups (GGs) have undergone training to be equipped for 1-on-1 personal discipleship ministry through the 1-on-1 School of Christian Ministry (SoCM) studies every Thursday evening.
This SoCM aims for Christ-like maturity: seen in every member building one another up by speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:11-17). To this end, CERC believes every Christian should be well-equipped to do personal discipleship through the Scriptures.
USJ 11 GG discussing the main Bible passage in one of the SoCM sessions
1-on-1 personal discipleship is Word ministry between two individuals: the more mature Christian, and the one being discipled. It aims for the mature Christian to mature the other: by teaching how to read the Scriptures, and by building a theological framework, and applying it in the context of the Christian life, accompanied by personal pastoral care; in order to raise more Christians who are matured by the Word.
The leaders in CERC developed a series of studies entitled “Life for God” (“LFG”).
“In creating our own studies, we hope to establish a robust theological framework of the Christian Life in the Malaysian context,” explained Soo Jia Ying, the Growth Group studies coordinator. “We wanted leaders to be given the opportunity to be able to write studies, as a process of learning to minister in the local context,” she added.
The new series comprises 12 studies taking the Christian through fundamental concepts from sin and justification, all the way to faith, hope and love in the Christian life.
“I found it difficult to pick passages that would achieve the goals of both the series as well as the studies themselves,” said Pastor-in-Training Vanessa Ong, the writer of the studies. “In the course of developing the ‘Life ‘for’ God’ studies, I decided to hone in on the Christian Life. … We wanted the study to explicate the shape of the Gospel, which is Jesus Christ who lived for God.”
Notes taken on a glass board during one of the SoCM sessions on an overview of the LFG syllabus
A study from the LFG series: “Hoping in God”, with a picture of Triumph of Faith – Christian Martyrs in the Time of Nero 65 AD by Eugene Thirion
In order to be Word ministers of calibre, the LFG study aims to provide a proper theological framework to its members through reading the Scriptures. This would mean that a thorough rendering of the text is necessary.
As such, the questions in the LFG studies were designed to probe deeper into the text, e.g., to discover and question whether an answer is satisfactory.
Chew Ai Lyn from Sunway 2 GG said that the LFG study challenged her to rewrite the text in her own words, and to discover the “central truth” through careful reading of the Bible passage.
“Besides reading skills, my GG leader asked me, again and again: ‘Is that answer enough for your 1-1 session?’ It challenged me to probe deeper and think harder on challenging the trainee’s worldviews by looking behind the lines of each question”.
Ai Lyn (back row, second from the left) with her GG after a SoCM session
The 1-on-1 SoCM training was designed to be both theological and practical. For instance, Marc Miller, who is from TGG F4, said that he benefited from learning the theology of the Gospel from the LFG series.
“I understood the importance of not merely being practical in this ministry, but also the basic Gospel framework in order to build up others in the Body of Christ”
Whereas, Liew Yoon Roy (Roy) from Bandar Utama 11 GG appreciated the practical aspects that he learnt.
“I was reminded to be articulate and mindful of the jargon I used. Teaching well is not easy, as it is more than a mere dumping of info: it involves addressing presuppositions and baggage that people bring into their interpretation of the Bible.”
Members of SS 15 GG sharing their learnings and reflections in a cafe
The 1-on-1 SoCM training has led to successful outcomes for some GG members who led 1-on-1 Bible studies. For instance, Esther Liung, a mother of four children from USJ 11 GG shared that she had begun her first 1-on-1 Bible study during the series despite the challenges of being a mother.
“I had to do my first study, on Zoom, with a baby on my lap, whilst thinking about how I would be juggling all these things at the same time! It was a great experience. I finally knew that 1-on-1 Bible Studies are not something that can only be done by pastors, but it can be done by you and me.”
Esther cradling her baby while studying the Scriptures during a SoCM study
Other GG members shared how they have been edified and transformed in how they view 1-on-1 ministry during the course of the SoCM training.
Noah Teng, from West Cheras GG, shared how he had benefited from the study session on “Suffering” when he was preparing to lead his group. “Being a millennial, my inclination is to avoid suffering at all costs. But I was reminded that suffering is what the Gospel demands,” he said.
Roy from Bandar Utama 11 GG shared that he was challenged during the SoCM training as he learned how to disciple others with the Word. “This SoCM training helped me to know God the right way: through the Bible. While learning how to disciple others with the Scriptures, I was also discipled because I was confronted by the God of the Scriptures,” he said.
Roy (second from the left) posing after a study with his GG at a cafe
GG leaders themselves also benefited from this SoCM, as they had to study the Scriptures as well.
Joshua Johnson, the assistant leader of SS2 GG said that the series helped to deepen his understanding even as a senior member of the group.
“The series has helped deepen my own understanding of discipleship,” said Joshua. “It was also a reminder that discipleship should be a regular part of my Christian life. No excuses.”
Others shared their aspirations from the SoCM training.
Even as a new Christian, William Chan from USJ 11 GG hopes for more opportunities to teach the Scriptures.
“Even though I’m a new Christian, the SoCM series gave me enough tools to edify another in the Gospel,” he said. “As I am constantly being equipped, my hopes are for more opportunities to arise to preach the Gospel through the Scriptures.”
Soo Jia Ying hopes to see more well-equipped Christians to be able to carry on the mission. “I look forward to seeing more Christians who are well-equipped and confident in teaching and exhorting…and as a result, I hope to see more hearts that are fervent for Christ.”