SUMMARY: In this episode, Brian and Rick speak with Heather Zempel, the leader of discipleship efforts at National Community Church in Washington, D.C. Heather explains the National Community Church’s free market system, which focuses on supporting and equipping the visions and spiritual gifts of individual group leaders, rather than prescribing a group life system. This approach to group discipleship enables leaders to build community and spheres of influence to fulfill specific needs among a congregation and to equip people with a unique calling. Heather also discusses the idea of discipleship as inherently relational, relying not just on workbooks as tools but also on people as units of influence in discipling other people. Finally, Heather shares some practical methods of discipleship that attempt to measure and define spiritual growth among group life participants.
Additionally, Brian shares the blog post of the week, a piece from his own blog entitled Drawing Lines Between Leadership and Influence, and Rick explains some reasons that a church might consider cancelling its small group meetings for the summer.
The Groups Matter Podcast is a weekly show designed to resource, train, and encourage small group leaders. Each episode considers current trends and resources as well as timeless truths and methods of discipleship. It is hosted by Brian Daniel, a Bible study expert from the Lifeway Groups Ministry Team, and Rick Howerton, the discipleship and small group specialist at Lifeway and author ofGUEST: A native Alabamian, Heather Zempel currently leads the discipleship efforts at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training, and serves on the weekend teaching team.
Heather followed a circuitous route into full-time ministry. Having obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological engineering from Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!), she worked as an environmental engineer and as a policy consultant on energy and environment in the United States Senate before coming on staff at National Community Church. Using her educational background, Heather now can be found exploring environments that foster spiritual growth.
She lives on Capitol Hill where she can be found enjoying theater with her husband Ryan, searching out the best barbeque joints, and nerding out on church history. Heather is the author of Sacred Roads, Community is Messy, and Amazed and Confused, and you can read about her ramblings on small group environments, discipling the next generation and SEC football at heatherzempel.com.
EPISODE SPONSOR: This week’s episode is sponsored by SmallGroup.com. SmallGroup.com is an online subscription service that allows churches and group leaders to create customizable, sermon-based group bible studies. Visit the Groups Ministry blog for a quick how-to tutorial, or visit SmallGroup.com to begin your free 2-week preview.