In the New Testament, we witness disciples gathering together in three distinct contexts. One, the whole church would gather together for the purpose of soul-edifying, God-honoring worship (1 Cor. 14:23; Heb. 10:25). Two, Jesus spent quality time with His twelve disciples (Mk. 1:16-20; Mt. 10). They shared life and ministry together. Three, Jesus shared deep moments with three disciples—Peter, James, and John. These three disciples were with Jesus during the moment of his transfiguration (Mt. 17:1-13) and when he wept through His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:36-46).
In our church, we mirror these three distinct contexts, believing each one makes significant contributions to our discipleship. We all gather together on Sundays in order to sing the gospel, speak the gospel, and to see the gospel at the Table and/or through Baptism. We also gather in Missional Communities, which are diverse groups of 8-15 disciples who meet to grow in love for God through the study of Scripture and gospel application, love for one another through sharing life together, and love for our neighbors through gospel service and blessing. The third context is what we call DNAs.
What is a DNA?
Our DNA (Discipleship-Nurture-Accountability) groups are same gender groups of 3-5 disciples, designed to help disciples connect on a more intimate level of mutual discipleship. DNAs provide a context for gospel-saturated disciple-making to take place, the process and priorities of which are illustrated below.
Moreover, in a DNA, disciples celebrate evidences of our Father’s grace and, when necessary, weep through our Father’s will together. Since life thrives in the light but dies in the dark (1 Jn. 1:5-2:2), DNAs also provide a graceful context for practicing self-disclosure, confession, and gospel-saturated admonishment.
How do DNAs form?
DNAs ordinarily form either out of our Missional Communities or our Men's and Women's Ministry initiatives. But, at times, they form spontaneously as well.
How often should a DNA meet?
Each group meets at whatever cadence works best for each participant's life rhythms. Some DNAs meet weekly while others meet every other week.
What does a DNA do?
DNAs do some things differently. What a DNA studies depends upon where the disciples are in their journey with Jesus. Many DNAs read books of the Bible together. Others benefit from a more guided, topical study on various aspects of the faith that have been recommended and/or approved by our Elders. For example, DNAs have journeyed through The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, Secret Church’s How to Study the Bible by David Platt, and Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. Moreover, DNAs connect in a variety of ways. Some meet over food and drinks. Others do so while exercising. Flexibility and creativity is encouraged.
DNAs do some things similarly. Each DNA spends 1/3 of their time together looking backwards, 1/3 of their time together looking upwards, and 1/3 of their time together looking forwards.
- Looking Backwards: Each DNA begins by asking the Holy Spirit to counsel them during their time together and to lead them to Jesus (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 16:26-27). They then reflect upon all that has transpired in their hearts since the previous meeting. This is more than a simple account of what each person has been doing. It is a spiritual assessment of how their heart has responded to life-happenings.
o Questions asked during this time include:
- What has been going on in your life?
- How has your heart responded to __________? (Potential answers include: gratitude, joy, patience, humbled, bitterness, resentment, anger, hardened, etc.)
- In what ways have you been tempted to sin since our last time together?
- Have you resisted or succumb to temptation? If succumbed, what lie(s) were you believing? What gospel truths were you not believing?
- What will your repentance look like?
- Looking Upwards: Each DNA proceeds to read and discuss their selected study material. Participants look for ways God is providentially using the study material to address how their hearts have responded to life-happenings. In reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s counsel, they help each other connect the dots between the gospel of God’s grace and their hearts.
- Looking Forwards: Each DNA spends the final 1/3 of their time looking forward by identifying action steps and specific, applicable take-aways from the conversation.
o Questions asked during this time include:
- Is there . . .
. . . a command to obey?
. . . a promise to claim?
. . . a sin to repent of?
. . . a beauty to behold?
. . . a truth to believe?
. . . a service to render?
. . . a spiritual discipline to exercise?
. . . a mission to fulfill?
. . . an example to follow?
. . . a person to tell?
Who leads a DNA and what do they do?
DNAs are designed to catalyze mutual discipleship, Nevertheless, each DNA is led by a maturing disciple. The designated leader initiates times for the group to meet, kick-starts conversations, models self-disclosure, confession and gospel-application, and assesses when members of a DNA should multiply out to lead a new DNA with other disciples.