Article by Dennis Bennett & Cami Summers

In Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin says, “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.” It has also been said this way, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Both statements express great truth, and one of the problems CDM a common concern of church’s discipleship programs.


Organization enables relational discipleship.

One of the goals of discipleship is authentic community, but it can be difficult for community to grow if the people and purpose of a group are too fluid. By clarifying the commitment expected, how the time as a group will be spent, and what preparation is required, everyone in the group will be known and can rest in an organized group.

The following questions are helpful in the process:

  • What is the group trying to accomplish? Is the group meeting to build community, to have accountability, to grow in knowledge, or to share in a project?
  • What do the individual members of the group hope to gain from their time together? This might be different from the overall purpose of the group.
  • What is the format for the group? How much time will be spent studying, praying, sharing and discussing?
  • What is each member of the group committing to be a part of? Think through expectations for attendance, for work outside of group time, and accountability. How much preparation for group time is required? Can someone who has not prepared attend?

Consistency and clarity are fertile ground for community. By stating a clear purpose and setting goals for each group, participants have a clear understanding of expectations and commitment.  Organization is important, but so is flexibility.

Bob Edmiston has a favorite phrase “Go with the flow.” By it he means, “Be flexible. Without flexibility there is little sensitivity to the situation or to the Spirit. At the same time, it is imperative that ‘Go with the flow’ is said in the context of a structure.”

Bob has written a manual, Organizing Your Christian Education Program, which you can find in our bookstore. It gives you the tools necessary for discipleship, and is a resource we recommend as you organize your church’s groups for success!

Make no mistake about it, planning takes work, but discipleship doesn’t happen accidentally.