Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Gary Bredfeldt

Primary Subject Area

Religion, General


discipleship, small groups, multisite churches, discipleship development


Christianity | Education


Researchers indicated a clear and steady decline in discipleship development within the Body of Christ (Baldwin, 2016; Lynn, 2014; Saunders, 2009). However, the vision for the church, outlined within the Great Commission, remains the same; it warrants the conversion, production, and reproduction of Christ’s disciples in all nations. The small group ministry and multisite churches are at the intersection of discipleship development, leading to effective disciple making. While small groups have been endorsed by many as the premier vehicle that helps the church fulfill its mission, multisite churches are heralded as those experiencing rapid growth with strong communities of faith designed to meet the spiritual needs of its members. However, it remains unclear how the two similar vehicles work together to develop mature believers who make disciples of Christ. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to discover small group participant experiences and perceptions as Christ’s disciples by examining the structure, design, and impact of their participation in small groups within multisite churches. At this stage in the research, multisite churches were generally defined as those “churches with multiple, satellite campuses united under one primary pastor, vision, and church DNA” (Edwards, 2016, p. 1). The theory guiding this study was found in Earley and Dempsey’s (2013) Win, Grow, and Send model, which provides an in-depth look into the development process from believer to disciple and disciple to disciple-maker.