Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you have not read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned about that Faithfulness is a much better measure of spiritual maturity than Knowledge and Teaching.
In this session, we’ll learn how the 3/3 (NOTE: PRONOUNCE AS “Three-Thirds”) meeting format is a method of meeting that helps followers of Jesus help one another follow Jesus more closely.
Jesus said -- “where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” That’s a powerful promise, and one that every follower of Jesus should take advantage of. But when you come together as a group, how should you spend your time?
A 3/3 (NOTE: PRONOUNCE AS “Three-Thirds”) Group is one that divides their time together into 3 parts, so that they can practice obeying some of the most important things that Jesus commands. This is how it works:
Look Back (VISUAL - 1/3) The first third of the group’s time is spent looking back at what’s happened since we’ve been together.
Look Up (VISUAL - 2/3) The middle third of the group’s time is spent Looking Up for God’s wisdom and direction through scripture, discussion and prayer.
Look Forward (VISUAL - 3/3) The final third of the group’s time is spent Looking Forward to how we can each apply and obey what we’ve learned.
Remember the blog post on spiritual breathing? Breathe in, hear from God. Breathe out, obey what you hear and share it with others. That’s what a 3/3rds group is all about.
A 3/3 Group is one that divides their time together into 3 parts, so that they can practice hearing from God and obeying and sharing some of the most important things that Jesus commands. Remember a 3/3 Group is not the same as a Bible Study - that's on purpose! We are not looking for knowledge or teaching but faithfulness.
LOOKING BACK - We spend the first third of our time looking back by caring for each other through giving thanks, sharing our struggles and praying for other members of our group. We’ll also check in to see if each person in the group has had the opportunity to obey and share what they learned the last time we were together.
Step One - “Giving Thanks.” Take some time to have each person share something they are thankful for.
Step Two - “Sharing your Struggles” and “Praying for One Another.” Each person in your group will briefly share something they are struggling with. Have someone else pray for them about what they share.
Step Three - “Focusing the Group.” Every time you meet, you’ll want to take time and remember why you’re together - to love God, to love others, to share Jesus, and help others share Him too. This is most effectively done by having someone read a passage like Matthew 22:37-38 out loud to the group.
Step Four - “Checking In.” This is the part that some groups want to skip, because it means asking questions that can sometimes be hard. Please don’t skip. Jesus loved His followers enough to ask hard questions. If we want to be like Jesus, we should love one another enough to do that, too. In this step, you’ll have each person in the group report on whether they obeyed what they heard God ask them to do the last time you were together. Each person needs answer the following questions honestly: How have you obeyed what you’ve learned so far? Who have you trained in what you’ve learned? Who have you shared your story or God’s story with since we’ve been together as a group.
LOOKING UP During the middle third of your time together, you will invite God’s Holy Spirit to lead your group to better understand God’s Word. The group will read a passage from the Bible out loud and then ask and answer some simple questions as a group to help explore and understand better God’s purposes and plans.
Step One - Take a moment to pray. Talk with God simply and briefly. Ask His Holy Spirit to teach you from the passage you are about to read.
Step Two - Have someone in the group read from the Bible. When you’ve finished reading, the group should answer these two questions: What did you like about this passage? What did you find challenging or hard to understand? If there are oral learners - people who don’t read well or prefer to learn by hearing - in your group, make sure you read through the passage at least twice. Now, have the group answer these two questions: What can we learn about people from this passage? What can we learn about God from this passage? Remember stick to the passage and keep it simple! Quick Tip: When you’re studying God’s Word, focus on His words instead of other books, teachers, or opinions. Instead of asking, “What do you think this means?” ask “What does this passage say?” If someone in your group likes to teach, gently remind them that God’s Holy Spirit and perfect Word can teach the group. We’re all here to learn, together. And don’t be afraid of silence or a pause in the discussion. God is working even when it’s quiet. Stay focused on His Word, stick to the passage, and trust God to do the rest.
LOOKING FORWARD In the last third of our time, we’ll focus on looking forward to discover how we can obey and train others by what we’ve learned from God’s word. Each member of the group asks God a few simple questions and then waits for His answer in prayer. Then each will share and practice their commitments and pray to end the time, together.
Step One - Have each person in your group pray silently and ask God these questions: God, how can I obey and apply what You’re teaching me? Who can I train from this passage so they can learn to obey and love You more? Who would you have me share my testimony or Your Good News of Jesus with? Ask God’s Holy Spirit to give you specific answers, specific names, and specific steps that you can take in the time between now and when your group meets again.
Step Two - Ask each person in your group to share what they heard from the Lord for each question. Someone may not have heard anything from the Lord on one, two, or even all three questions. They can simply report that they didn’t hear. But remember, the group should hear from the Lord. Jesus said - “My sheep hear My voice.” And the more specific your obedience steps are, the easier it will be to obey them before you meet again.
Step Three - Before you end your time together, have your 3/3 Group break into smaller groups of two or three and practice what you’ve heard the Lord ask you to do. Remember - practice isn’t obeying, training or sharing, but it does get you ready to do those things better. Have each smaller group end its practice time together in prayer. Pray specifically for those people and plans God has put on your hearts. Anyone who doesn’t have specific commitments should practice sharing their testimony story or God’s Story.
Around the world, 3/3rds groups often share the Lord’s Supper, or a meal and more casual conversations as part of their time together. God gave us this kind of fellowship -- intentional learning and growth and intentional living and relationship to help strengthen, encourage, and build us up to be more like His Son, Jesus.
And that's the 3/3 Meeting Format -- Looking Back to check in on what we've accomplished since the last time we met, Looking Up to understand what God has for us to learn in this time together, and Looking Forward to put into action what God has put on our hearts while we're apart.
3/3 Groups - a simple and practical way to meet that helps us become more like Jesus by building accountability for faithfulness right in.
Are you interested in trying this format? We would be happy to run a sample 3/3 Group with you via Zoom. Send us an email or call the office.