Beginning a New DNA
Who do I ask to be in a DNA group?
First, begin by humbly asking the Lord who you should ask. Do not rush this process. Write down a list of people the Lord brings to mind. It is not necessary to try and “match” people by who will get along or knows each other. In fact, the process of being in a close group with someone who is in a different stage of life, different personality, or different spiritual maturity helps in growing a disciple who loves all people. The greatest factor in asking someone to be in a DNA group should be their desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
Why four people?
With too many people in a group, usually around 5 or more, someone can “hide” and not be involved in conversation. Also, meetings take longer when there are more people sharing. With only two in a group, it turns into a mentoring relationship. One person is usually teaching the other. Four is nice because if someone can’t make it on a given week, there are still three people meeting and encouraging one another.
What happens when someone declines?
There are many reasons someone may choose not to be in a DNA group at a particular point in time. Young children, lack of time, fear, or unworthiness are all possible reasons. Sometimes, however, it is for those very reasons that a person would benefit if they were in a DNA group. If someone says no, gently ask why they are declining. Make sure they understand what a DNA group is and how it may help them. If they still refuse, thank them for considering and ask someone else.
What do we do in the first meeting?
The first time the group meets is an excellent time to have everyone tell their story. Tell people ahead of time that you will be having them share how they came to know Jesus. Encourage everyone to tell some of their background and what they thought about God before they put their faith in Jesus. Next, explain what moved them toward trusting in Christ. Last, invite them to tell how being a follower of Jesus has changed them and how they relate to their world and the people around them. Have each person try to share their story in ten minutes or less. After everyone has shared their story, spend some time interacting as a group asking each other questions. Hand out the “Pequea Six” cards and explain what will happen week to week in the meetings. Highlight the importance of confidentiality. People need to feel safe sharing their thoughts, feelings, and sin. Decide on a book of the Bible to study together. Focus on the acronym DNA (Discover, Nurture, Act) and explain the purpose of each point. Close the meeting by praying together. Some people may not be comfortable praying out loud at this juncture, so do not force anyone to pray.
How do I explain the main goals of a DNA group?
Many people have their own ideas of what an accountability group looks like, perhaps even from past experience, so it might be helpful to first describe what a DNA group is not. It is NOT primarily a Bible study, although the group studies the Scriptures together. It is NOT a mentoring group where one person teaches and mentors the rest. It is NOT a support group where people come to primarily share their problems. A DNA group comes together for accountability and encouragement. We want to discover who God is and get to know Him better by reading and studying the Bible together. We nurture loving relationships with all those with whom we come in contact, especially connecting with and giving priority to those within the DNA group. We act in obedience to God, repent in response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and live in His strength and power.
How does a group decide which book of the Bible to study?
When deciding what part of the Bible to study, keep in mind that not all people have the same Bible knowledge or familiarity. It is often a good idea to begin with one of the Gospels and focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Moving back and forth between Old and New Testaments helps expose people to books with which they are not as familiar. Ask the group what ideas they have and come to an agreement. When doing a historical book such as Genesis or 1 Samuel, it may be better to cover more than one chapter a week. When doing a book like Psalms or Proverbs, it is a good idea to decide beforehand the number of weeks you will spend there.
Where do we meet?
Meetings can happen anywhere, but here are a few things to keep in mind. Find a place that is relatively free of distractions and where everyone can focus. Meet in a place where everyone is comfortable to share. Find somewhere that is relatively convenient for everyone. While meeting in someone’s home is ideal, coffee shops, restaurants, even at a workplace, is also possible as long as it meets the criteria above. Meeting at the church building is an option but moving offsite is preferable.
What if someone dominates conversation?
Some people like to talk and therefore will dominate a conversation. As a facilitator, you look to curb those who talk too much and bring out those who are afraid to speak. There are times where someone may be going through a difficult time and needs to share their heart. This is good, and others will need to come around this person, pray for them, and encourage them. But some people simply talk too much, perhaps from insecurity or pride. Do your best to thank a person for their insight and help direct the conversation to another member of the group. If someone continues to dominate week after week, it may be necessary to pull them aside or meet with them privately and lovingly explain what they are doing and kindly ask them to be an active listener and allow time for others to share.
When should I let someone else facilitate?
Since there are four people in a DNA group, each person would facilitate for three months apiece. During the first three months, be alert for someone who appears ready to be the next facilitator. This person should be engaged, excited, responsible, and growing in their relationship with the Lord. When that person’s time is coming to a close, perhaps talk about who the next facilitator will be. Encourage someone to take the role even if they appear hesitant. Many times, it is fear of the unknown that causes hesitation. A person does not have to be a spiritual giant to facilitate the group, but they do need to be someone who has been faithful and teachable.
What if someone is not facilitating well?
Issues may arise that cause someone to not be a good facilitator. They may find themselves dealing with work or home issues that are taking their time. Perhaps they begin to miss meetings without good reason. Maybe they are not timely in letting everyone know of changes in time or venue. If this takes place, you may need to meet with them privately to address the issue. Understand there may be deep hurts, shame, or embarrassment in not fulfilling their role. Gently and lovingly deal with the issues at hand and allow that person to hand those responsibilities to someone else in the group.
What if someone changes the focus of the DNA group?
If a member is allowed to facilitate but begins to use it as a forum to teach and treat others as students, this must be addressed. Meet privately with the person and explain the goals and vision of a DNA group. Explain that it is a peer-to-peer discipleship model that encourages everyone in the group to contribute and learn from one another through the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. If the person agrees to change, then they may continue to facilitate. If the person disagrees, they should be asked to leave the group.
How do I know if someone is ready to start their own group?
There is no set standard to know when someone is ready to multiply and begin a group. If at the end of a year it seems clear that someone is not ready to begin a group of their own, ask them to stay with you as you begin another group. If they ask why, gently explain that it will be better, in your opinion, to stay another year in a group before starting their own. On the other hand, it is not hard to facilitate a group and the process is meant to be easily replicated. Pray that the Lord would show you what would be best for everyone.
What if someone needs more help or is involved in something illegal or criminal?
It is healthy for people to share deep concerns, hurts, and sin with one another. However, if someone shares something that is a criminal act or a psychological concern, please share that information with Pat Audia or Clint Shondelmyer, and report it to the appropriate authorities. Do not simply try to deal with the issue as a DNA group or choose not to report it due to confidentiality.