Good group meetings start with a good plan

How to plan your next discipleship meeting


Wondering how to plan your next discipleship meeting? It’s a good thing to consider, after all, meetings with plans tend to run much more smoothly.

Most people have experienced this at work or in school. A meeting without an agenda can often feel pointless and wandering. A class without a lesson plan can feel chaotic and scattered.

The same is true when it comes to discipleship group meetings. If you want to make the most of each group meeting, then you’ll need to prepare and plan. In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you plan your next discipleship meeting.

Let’s get to it.

Why you should plan your next discipleship meeting

It may be tempting to just wing your next discipleship group or Bible study. You can always open up the Bible and hope the Holy Spirit shows up.

And while time studying the Bible is never wasted, you will do your group members a disservice by not actually preparing. Here are a few reasons you should actually take the time to make a plan for your discipleship groups.

Preparation produces confidence: If you want to lead your discipleship group with confidence, then preparation is key. You want to know the material, and take time to consider  and prepare for any questions that may come your way.

Creating a plan helps keep you on schedule: Life on life discipleship groups tend to cover a lot of ground. You want time for relationship building, plus you want to move through the entire TEAMS format of the journey curriculum, plus you want time to pray. You don’t have to maintain the schedule like it’s a strict law, but you also don’t want to find yourself running out of time to discuss the truth of God’s Word because you got too distracted talking about sports or movies.

Preparation gives you a chance to pray: We don’t have to simply hope that God’s Spirit will show up and work during our discipleship groups – we can actually pray that He will. You can also pray for wisdom, for confidence, for direction, and for your group members.

The plan keeps you focused on what matters: The Journey curriculum covers a lot of ground each week. Your group discussion time will never be able to answer every question, but that isn’t the goal. We often say, “it’s not curriculum on life, it’s life on life discipleship.” As group leader, you should know what’s going on in your group members’ lives. Creating a plan will help you identify the questions and themes that will matter most to those you are discipling

How to plan our next discipleship meeting

In order to help you plan, you can download our helpful PDF template for planning your discipleship group meeting.

Here are a few ideas and questions to consider as you plan out your group:

Start with prayer

Planning your discipleship group does not reduce the need for the Holy Spirit to move during your group study. Instead, it gives you more opportunity to ask for the Spirit to move during your group time and also to illuminate the Scriptures as you study and prepare.

Consider, how long will you hang out in the beginning?

Most groups start with some free conversations about life- what’s going on with school or work? How are things with your kids or your parents? This time isn’t meant to be formal, but it’s a good way to start as people arrive and gives everyone a chance to build a stronger community. You will need to consider how long this free time lasts – and the amount of time may vary based on study topics, how talkative your group is, and how much time you have left.

Sand timer - how to plan a discipleship group

What announcements need to be made?

Announcements are a great transition to “business.” Keeping announcements at the front will help ensure they aren’t forgotten and, in a small discipleship group, usually don’t take very long. Announcements may be simple reminders about upcoming travel, when and where to meet for a group service project, or an upcoming family BBQ for the group.

What is the main truth of this lesson that I will focus on?

(These next few sections follow our TEAMS format for effective Bible study discussions.)

As you prepare, you will undoubtedly discover many different elements of truth. Group time is limited, however, so we recommend selecting one main truth each week that you really want to ensure the group discusses. You may cover other truths, and your group members may want to discuss some important truths themselves. By selecting one main truth, you can ensure everyone walks away with one major takeaway, but leave time and flexibility to discuss things as needed.

What is the main equipping question of this lesson that I will focus on?

In the same way, you’ll also want to identify one key equipping question that you can discuss with your group. It’s always a good idea to think about the people in your discipleship group – where do they need equipping most? Does your equipping question address their needs?

What is the main accountability question of this lesson that I will focus on?

By now you’re probably seeing a pattern – for each section of TEAMS you should identify one main takeaway or question for the group. It can be tempting to focus entirely on truth and then skip over things like accountability, but each section is important to equipping mature disciples.

What is the main mission assignment of this lesson that I will focus on?

In a discipleship group, learning the truth is just the beginning. How can your group members apply what they’re learning? How can they effectively grow at making and training disciples themselves? The mission assignment is key for these efforts – giving each person a clear application and challenge to apply the truth.

What is the main supplication focus I will lead our prayer time about?

Prayer is an important part of both planning for your group and leading your group. Hopefully, you have a running list of prayer requests from your group members and you can plan to follow up with those requests during the group. You can also highlight any major prayer items from the weekly study. And of course, planning your supplication time is also a good opportunity to pray for your group in advance!

how to plan your discipleship group - prayer journal

What are the assignments I will give the group?

Finally, consider if there are any assignments you need to give the group. What homework do they have? Bible study? Memory verses? Discipleship group prep can take a couple hours each week, so you want to give your group members a full week to complete their assignments. Sharing their assignment at the end of one meeting ensures they have enough time to prepare for the next meeting.

Your Turn

We hope these questions and tips were helpful as you plan your next discipleship meeting. Remember, you don’t need to spend hours preparing a sermon for your group. Instead, you’re leading a discussion – the more time your group speaks the better. 

Think through the key questions you want to ask them, and make sure you’ve carved out time for fellowship and prayer. If you follow these simple steps, you’re discipleship meetings will be more consistent and produce greater fruit.