Discipleship groups, or d-groups, are a distinct tool for building relationships and growing in faith on campus.
“D-Group is simply a specific space where a group of people, usually 3-6 [students] and a leader meet together on a regular basis for the goal of growing in their faith,” said Brian Zunigha, director of discipleship for Spiritual Life.
Unlike Chapel, SL Night or SL Groups, d-groups are not formally organized by Spiritual Life. The SL office is merely a supporter and educator for d-group leaders.
“It’s really hard to explain how these groups are formed because these aren’t a specific program,” Zunigha said. “We train people to lead these and empower students to start groups like this if it helps them in their personal ministries and relationships that point to Jesus.”
D-groups can vary in content and structure depending on the members and their leaders.
Zunigha encouraged students who want to get plugged into a d-group to be consistent in attending events and being present in campus spaces designed for spiritual growth. While this may be intimidating for some, Zunigha assured students that there are many individuals, including upperclassmen, SL staff and himself, who are willing and eager to disciple and pour into the lives of students.
“I would recommend starting to come to SL Night and SL Groups and finding people they would like to connect with and learn from,” Zunigha said. “If you see someone following Jesus in a genuine way and want to learn how they live intentionally, the best thing you could do is ask them to meet once. Show up with questions, a pen, and a notepad and start learning.”
Evelyn Melgoza, sophomore graphic design major, shared her experience of being in a student-led d-group on campus.
“I have been a part of [a] discipleship group for over a year now, and it has been the best group I have been a part of,” Melgoza said. “The group that I am part of is a very small-knit group of four or five girls, which is beneficial because we can go over questions that we have in our faith. [We can] even have the confidence to talk through trials.”
Melgoza explained the structure and discussion topic of her group. She shared that her group meets on a weekly basis for about two hours and the group meets on a semester schedule, with each session of d-group lasting about 12 weeks.
“We have two books to read from. One dealing with Christian discipleship and a corresponding book of the Bible,” Melgoza said. “Each week we start by rating our weeks on a scale of 1-10 and stating how we feed our soul, others and flesh. These questions give opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level.”
Feeding one’s soul refers to how one spends time with God and allows him to grow in their affection for him. Feeding others is in reference to acts of service and kindness. Sharing how they feed their flesh gives group members the opportunity to share their spiritual shortcomings and to be vulnerable with their fellow group members.
After their accountability questions, the group dives into discussing the book they are independently reading and the Bible they read as a group.
“After group discussion, we go over SMART goals, which are small achievable goals like reading our Bibles every day, working on intentional prayers, or making time to talk to someone you haven’t chatted with in a while,” Melgoza said.They finish with prayer and praise reports, and she said all of it has been beneficial.
“I learned how to read the Bible, who Jesus is, what he teaches us to do and how to act,” Melgoza said. “When I first attended the meetings, I never would have expected to have such a close connection with them.”
Melgoza said the connections she has made in the d-group have led to genuine friendships outside of the context of their weekly meetings.
“The most significant thing I have learned is how much a Christian-centered friendship matters,” Melgoza said. “This is true to me especially when I need advice or a shoulder to rest upon.”
Mackenzie Peters, CBU alumna in graphic design and visual experience and former Spiritual Life intern, shared her experience leading a d-group during her time at CBU.
“Leading a d-group was a really enriching and sweet experience,” Peters said. “Each group dynamic was different depending on pre-existing friendships coming in or the personalities present.”
Peters highlighted how their camaraderie enriched their walks with God.
“D-group provided a sense of accountability for me and many of the girls that were a part,” Peters said. “I think it also gave me a greater understanding of the gospel and God’s heart for me and others.”
Like Melgoza, Peters recalls an important part of leading the d-group was making it a safe space that cultivated trust.
“Leading is the best way of learning,” Peters said. “When you’re placed in a leadership role, you have to do the homework. You have to dig into the material more. You have to be listening to the Lord’s lead and what he wants to speak. It takes humility and awkward attempts but it’s beautiful to see how he can work through us.”