Catholics today face many obstacles to a vibrant relationship with Christ. Many are without community and lack support in their faith journey. Many do not know what they believe, and even if they do, they may not be living out their beliefs or sharing them with others.
Out of a passion to combat these obstacles and help people to have the relationship with Christ they desire, Franciscan University of Steubenville has conducted extensive research and created the Discipleship Quad.
A Discipleship Quad is a group of four people who journey together as disciples through weekly gatherings of fellowship, ongoing conversion, and learning. This 12-month path of accompaniment fosters growth through prayer, accountability, and authentic relationships.
This is not just another small group program or Bible study. Here’s what makes Discipleship Quads different than anything else you’ll find:
- The size of the Quad is four, including the Coordinator, allowing for a greater intimacy among members.
- Choosing who to invite into a Quad is discerned through prayer.
- There is a rotation of leadership during the Quad’s time together.
- Fellowship is a meaningful part of the experience.
- This model has had over three decades of success.
- It is all free of charge… There’s no cost to you or your parish!
Are you curious about the origins of our Discipleship Quad program?
The Catechetical Review‘s article, “Disciples Forming Other Disciples,” gives insight into the year-long research project that led to the formation of Discipleship Quads, as well as why this program is important and even integral to cultivating disciples in the Church today.
Where do people need to be on their spiritual journey to join a Discipleship Quad?
Time is one of our most precious resources. How we spend our time will show people what we value. Therefore, in order for someone to commit to spending time meeting and sharing about their spiritual life every week, they need to have a desire to grow in Christ. With that being said, there is no set of tasks someone must complete or accomplish in order to be ready to join a Discipleship Quad. The only prerequisites are the willingness to commit and the desire to grow as a disciple of Christ as a Catholic.
What if I want to invite a person to join my Discipleship Quad who is a regular church attendee and already seems to be an active disciple of Jesus?
This is very common and good. Most Catholics have not been discipled by someone and are not discipling others. Therefore, people who are actively living their faith can still greatly benefit from being in a Discipleship Quad and learning how to disciple others. It is possible that God will lead you to start a Discipleship Quad with people you know from church; they can go through the process with you in order to learn how to lead others to Christ.
Can Quads be mixed-sex if we feel called to invite both sexes or couples?
Based on the research, including the model’s 35+ years of success, mixed-sex Quads are not recommended. The Quads are single-sex in order to create an atmosphere of common intimacy and vulnerability in sharing.
Can I invite a non-Catholic to join a Quad?
Being Catholic is not a prerequisite to joining a Quad, but the content of the lessons is explicitly Catholic. As long as people understand that the content will be Catholic, have a desire to grow in their understanding of the Catholic faith, and are able to commit to the elements in the Discipleship Quad Commitment, they are welcome to be in a Quad. Depend on God’s guidance when asking him who to invite.
Why do you suggest that a Discipleship Quad be made up of four people rather than one on one?
The following benefits are listed in Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden:
- The one on one sets up a teacher-student dynamic. The pressure is upon the discipler to be the answer person or the fountain of all wisdom and insight. This dynamic discourages many people from wanting to disciple others. When a third (or fourth) person is added, the dynamic shifts to a group process. The discipler can more naturally make his or her contribution in the dynamic of group interchange.
- The triad/quad … views discipleship as a comealongside relationship of mutual journey toward maturity in Christ.
- The sense of “groupness.” The sense of the Holy Spirit being present in our midst occurred much more often in the group versus the one on one. Accountability is stronger than one on one.
- The group approach multiplies the perspectives on Scripture and application to life issues … By adding at least a third person there is another perspective brought to the learning process. The group members serve as teachers of one another.
- By adding a third or fourth person who is being equipped to disciple others, the multiplication process is geometrically increased.
Although the possibility of doing a triad (three people) is mentioned in the comments above, the quad (four people) model is recommended.
If the benefits of a four-person group are so good, why not have more people in a Quad, like in a typical small group?
The following reasons are listed in Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden:
- Truth – learning occurs in direct proportion to the ability to interact with the truth, which becomes more difficult with an increased number of voices contributing. It also becomes increasingly difficult to tailor the rate of learning to the individual, the larger the size of the group.
- Transparent relationships – self-disclosure is integral to transformation, and openness becomes increasingly difficult in direct proportion to the size of the group. If we are not free to divulge our struggles, then the Spirit will not be able to use the group members to effectively minister at the point of need.
- Mutual accountability – the larger the group, the easier it is to hide. Accountability requires the ability to check to see if assignments were completed or commitments to obedience were maintained. Greater numbers decrease access to a person’s life.
Do I need to tell my priest or ask for permission from the parish to participate in a Discipleship Quad?
Unlike many initiatives within the Catholic Church, the Discipleship Quad model was designed so that it can be done independent of the parish, thereby not necessitating the pastor or staff’s time or approval. Although advising your pastor wouldn’t be discouraged, the curriculum and process are not dependent on parish support.
Can I still meet with my Quad after 12 months?
You should absolutely still make time to meet together as a group after completing the Guidebook. Remember, though, that one of the objectives of the Discipleship Quad model is that you will each start a new Quad at the end of the 12 months. The next step is mentoring each other as you form your new Quads.
What happens if someone in the Quad determines that he or she cannot continue for the full 12 months?
If it is early in the process (during the first one or two months) you could add another person to fill the spot. Go back through the process of praying about who to invite. If it is more than two months into the time the Quad has been meeting together, just stay with a group of three people and do not add another person. The intimacy among Quad members has been formed too much at this point, so it would be difficult to bring in a new person into it.
How much do the Discipleship Quad resources cost?
Absolutely nothing! All Discipleship Quad resources are available, free of charge, on steubenvilleconferences.com.