In the book of Acts believers and non-believers alike were awestruck at the church’s influence on culture and society. The Church can still have that impact! TGroups give us a framework for implementing seven actions to help our churches transform, train, and thrive.
A 3-Thirds Group Model for Churches
A Model for Helping Members at Your Church to Transform, Train and Thrive
For many years, I craved something deeper than the average small group. I wanted that weekly meeting to have a real impact on both my personal relationship with God AND the expansion of His Kingdom. Simultaneously, as the president of a missions-sending organization, with workers serving in a variety of countries and contexts, we were searching for a small group format that could work across the board. What if there was one group format that new believers and long-time believers could all benefit from, regardless of their cultural background, socioeconomic status, or biblical knowledge. I don’t know if I truly believed we’d find something that checked every box, but now, after using this group model in 50 fields and thousands of groups in the US and around the world, I can say without a doubt, TGroups are the answer. And now, you can use them too.
Imagine being alive during the book of Acts...
The seven action framework of TGroups is:
- Pray – It must be extraordinary, authentic, and intentional.
- Obey – We pursue radical, immediate, and, if necessary, costly obedience.
- Share – As an everyday part of life, we regularly tell God’s story and our testimony.
- Train – Everything we learn, we constantly model and pass on to others.
- Gather – New believers are immediately integrated into worship, the Word, and witnesses.
- Multiply – We reproduce ourselves (disciples) and our TGroups as rapidly as possible.
- Grow – Each of us takes personal responsibility to grow ourselves, our group(s) and our church.
What is a TGroup and How Does it Work?
TGroups are a 3-Thirds Group model, designed specifically for churches. A TGroup agrees to gather once each week for 15 weeks. Each meeting is 90 minutes. Here’s a breakdown of how that time is used:
15 Minutes: Informal Welcome/Refreshments/Hangout
60 Minutes: 3-Thirds Group – groups of four read and pray through scripture
15 Minutes: Training
The final 15 minutes of TGroups are vital. Investing 15 additional minutes in intensive training on a tool or principle they hope to implement in the coming week will make a huge impact. During this time, they also preview an additional homework assignment that can be done any time during the week.
Does the Size of the Group Matter?
Your whole small group can be together for the first and last 15 minutes, but a 3-thirds group is very participative. If you try to do it with more than 4 people, it will take longer — or you’ll end up skipping over some of the participants.
What Happens During 3-Thirds?
The first third (about 20 minutes) consists of a Look Back, recapping how the past week has gone. During the middle third, you Look Up. It’s a discovery Bible study focused on a passage of Scripture that the group or the facilitator has suggested (usually 10-20 verses). The final third is a Look Forward. In this section, the group prays for insight and wisdom on how to obey the passage. Group members also choose a person with whom they will share God’s story or their testimony in the coming week. [Download this 3-Thirds Guide to use during the study.]
3-Thirds group members should stick directly to the Scripture passage. If someone in the group begins quoting from an outside teacher or commentary, group members need to ask the question, “Now where is that in this passage?” We rely on the exact wording in the Bible. There are difficult passages in the Bible, but we have a high trust in Scripture. Paul wrote that scripture is “God-breathed,” and that it’s capable of helping us effectively understand every teaching (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we truly believe those verses, then the Bible should be able to handle defending itself, if we read it carefully and follow only the things it expressly commands us to do.
The final 15 minutes of the TGroup are to equip each participant with the tools and strategies one needs to multiply. There are dozens of reproducible habits that researchers have chronicled that God often uses in multiplicative growth in both disciples and groups.
The goal is that each participant can help launch additional TGroups with their friends, neighbors, and other community members. As this happens, each person would be a part of three different weekly events. First, they would meet each weekend for their large-group celebration or corporate worship. Second, they would participate in a TGroup-like experience long-term, for his or her own sanctification and growth. Third, each person could also be helping launch a new TGroup-like experience with other believers and non-believers who are exploring a relationship with Christ.
There are examples in the New Testament of people who met with Jesus for just a few hours, but His impact on their lives was so great, He instructed them immediately to go tell their friends and neighbors. Sharing our faith with our not-yet-believing friends is an urgent task that needs to be done immediately — or we might lose the chance to reach them forever.
Here are the suggested Scriptures for the Look Up portion of your 3-Thirds groups for the first 15 weeks.
1 Mark 5:1-20
2 Matthew 6:9-13
3 Luke 12:13-34
4 Luke 15:11-32, Mark 1:16-20
5 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
6 Luke 19:1-10
7 John 11:1-44
8 Acts 5:17-42, Matthew 5:43-44
9 Romans 6:3-4, Acts 8:26-40
10 2 Timothy 3:14-16
11 Luke 18:9-14
12 John 3:1-21
13 Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 11:23-34
14 2 Tim 2:1-4, 14-16
15 Acts 10:9-48
Here’s a list of training resources to practice during the last 15 minutes of your TGroup gathering.
Here are the homework assignments for all 15 weeks
3 Sections. 20 Minutes Each.
Look Back – (20 minutes)
Care – Share a story about how God revealed Himself to you or someone you know in an unexpected way. Or share with the group about your relationship with God during this past week. Or share a prayer request, an answer to prayer, etc. Pray for one another.
Loving Accountability – Review the prior lesson. Please respond to the following questions:
- How have you obeyed something that you learned from the prior lesson?
- Who have you trained in something that you have learned?
- With whom have you shared your story and/or God’s story?
- Celebrate any victories
Vision Casting – Let’s remind ourselves – What is our vision again? We are asking God to transform us into “disciples worth reproducing” that multiply disciples and groups to advance His Kingdom in our church and around the world. For our meeting tonight, let’s look at a scripture that helps us embrace that. (Then choose and share a story from the Bible. Select a verse or story like one of these: Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 10:1-11, Acts 1:8, Luke 19:1-10, Matthew 13: 1-23, Luke 24:45-49), or share an encouraging or inspirational story. Keep in mind your time limitations.)
Look Up – (20 minutes)
Pray and ask God to speak through His Word, revealing what He wants to teach.
Read this week’s passage. Each person should respond to these questions:
- What did you like about this passage?
- What did you find difficult about this passage or what didn’t you understand?
Reread this week’s passage. Each person should respond to the questions:
- What does this passage teach you about people?
- What does this passage teach you about God/Jesus?
Look Forward – (20 minutes)
Pray, asking God for specific names and action steps for the questions below. (Type these goals and message them to everyone. Refer to them throughout the week. In next week’s “Look Back” section, see how everyone did.)
- How will you obey this passage?
- Who will you train with this message?
- With whom will you share your story or God’s story?
Practice starting one of the conversations you’ll need to have in the last two questions above.
Pray for every member individually. Ask God to prepare the hearts of the people who will be hearing about Jesus this week. Ask Him to give you the strength to be obedient to your commitments.