The Discipleship Environment

by Ps Benny Ho


What makes good a Small Group community and leadership.



Ps. Benny Ho is currently the senior pastor of Faith Community Church in Perth, Australia. His ministry includes mission work with World Vision, bible school planting in Asia, and over 20 years in various pastoral roles. He founded Arrows College as a teaching and resource ministry and is the Apostolic Leader of the D-Net Churches, a network that of disciple-making cell group churches. Ps. Benny’s twin passions are expository preaching and mentoring.



Being in a small group allows people to journey with each other in the company of God and to forge  a community. In such a group, we reach other for Christ and make disciples.


In Acts 2:42, the early Christians devoted themselves to teaching (of the Word) and fellowship.


Thus, small groups should have 3 Cs: content, community and consecration. 


The key elements which makes a small group effective are:

1. It is a community of friends – kindred spirits on a similar journey of life.

2. It is a holistic community, one which prays and plays together with a lot of gatherings in between small group meetings.

3. It is a safe community 

4. It is a learning community 

5. It is an accountable community 

6. With the fore-mentioned, it can become a consecrated community 

7. It is a missional community

8. The result of all these elements means that a small group can become a multiplying community.


Here are four aspects of discipleship:

1. Being connected to Christ, the Church and the cause or vision of the local church. The main vehicle for doing this is the small group and planting small groups. 

2. To equip believers.

3. To mentor believers for leadership development 

4. To release people to ministry in the marketplace and/or missions fields.


Small group leaders are primarily shepherds.In fulfilling this role, small group leaders cannot over manage people. Instead, the aim isto create an environment where people can flourish through the Word and prayer. 


Small group leaders requirefiveelements of FAITH:

⁃Faithful and reliable in the small group

⁃Available 

⁃Initiative – must be self-motivated and thoughtful for the sake of the small group.

⁃Teachable 

⁃Heart for the local church and its vision


Small group leaders must seek to develop three primary traits:

1. Abiding before advancing. John 15:5 states “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Thus, it is absolutely key that leaders abide in God. Fruitfulness is the result of abiding in Him. Ministry is simply an overflow of intimacy with God. 

2. Character before competence. If one’s character is flawed, then one’s ministry is flawed. In 1 Samuel 16:7, it is clear that God does not to look at outward appearance but at the heart. So, in Psalm 78:72, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart... and skilful hands....”

3. Discipleship comes before leadership. People must first disciples of Jesus Christ before they become leaders of the church. Our identity is rooted in Christ. Our function and service is leadership. Leadership is the service that we render. 


The posture and disposition of heart are the twin pillars of the character of leaders. 


a. Leaders must have a distinct holiness on the path to consecration.

b. Leaders should have a quiet humility especially in the way bad feedback is received. Humility is also required for submitting to things which we don’t like. 

c. The language which we use will also reveal what sort of posture we have. Our language often betrays what our heart is about. 


When the laws of discipleship and leadership clash, the former must always prevail. 


Jesus picked his apostles, including fishermen and a tax collector after a night of prayer (see Luke 6:12). Jesus did what the Father wanted. That is discipleship. 

In Mark 1:35, Instead of going to the crowds to preach when everyone was looking for him, Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. This is totally against the momentum of human leadership. He went where the Father told Him to go, and when. 


Discipleship and obedience always before human leadership skills. 


Beyond small group leaders, church leaders should have:

1. Character 

2. Competence

3. Calling

4. Commitment 

5. Capacity

6. Chemistry

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