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An Introduction to Discovery Bible Study

Murray Moerman /Tuesday, December 6, 2022

 

We, as followers of Jesus, are called to prioritize inviting others to follow Him.

Why? Because Jesus did.

Making disciples was demonstrated to be the priority of Jesus. He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)

In light of this, how do we, as disciples, make disciples?

In recent years, while the church has been in decline in the west, much has been learned about making disciples in Asia and elsewhere. Disciple Making Movements (centered around a 7-step process commonly known as “Discovery Bible Study”) are multiplying disciples-who-make-disciples. Surprisingly, these movements are multiplying disciples throughout diverse cultures and through ordinary lay people.

The process is simple, focusing on allowing the Holy Spirit to apply the Word of God to us personally, inviting us not only to knowledge, but also, in response to insight, obedience.

What is Discovery Bible Study?

A Discovery Bible Study Group is a disciple-making group, typically between 2-6 people, who form a small community focused on following Jesus and making disciples who make disciples. Disciple-making groups can meet anytime convenient and practical for two or more people.

The Discovery Bible Study Group:

  • meets regularly to follow the 7-question small group process.
  • focuses on ordinary disciples (lay-leaders) who are growing as disciples AND making disciples.
  • is started with the intention of multiplication with the vision to start 3 (or more) groups over time.

Discovery Bible Study: 7-Step Process

As the Discovery Bible Study group meets, the facilitator takes the group through this simple 7-step process:

As you begin each session, start with prayer, asking for the Lord’s presence and guidance. Then facilitate with the following simple, friendly questions.

1. Reconnect (Look back at your week)

Ask:

  • What are you thankful for today?
  • What struggle are you facing?

2. Review (applies from the second time onwards)

Ask:

  • Can someone summarize the story from last time and share how God spoke to us?
  • How did it go with your "I will ..." statement from last week?
  • Did you share what you learned with someone? How did the person respond?

3. Read

Invite:

  • Invite someone to read the Bible passage* for this session.
  • Invite someone else to read the Bible passage in a different translation.

*This method can be used with any Scripture passage, but for recommended lists of Scripture passages check out “List of Scripture Passage Sets” .

4. Retell

Ask:

  • Can someone retell the story or main points in this passage, in your own words?
  • Is there anything else someone would like to add?

5. Respond

Ask:

  • What does this passage tell us about God, or about Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell us about people, or about ourselves?
  • What is God drawing you to pay attention to? How is God speaking to you? Is there an attitude/behaviour to change? A promise to lay hold of? Something specific He wants you to do?

6. React

Invite:

  • Invite the group to take a few moments of silence to consider the question: “How can you put your learning into action?” or “How will I live differently in light of what God is saying to me in this passage?”
  • Invite each group member to write down an “I will…” statement of response. The “I will … ” statement should be specific (rather than general) and ideally should include a verb reflecting the action they wish to take.
  • It may be the Lord is inviting you as a group to respond to a need. If so, write together a "We will ..." statement.
  • Invite group members to share their “I will…” statement with the group.

7. Repeat

Ask:

  • Who could benefit from what the Lord is teaching you?
  • How will you share what the Lord is speaking into your life?

As the session concludes, pray for one another in the areas you've shared. A good way to pray is to ask each person to pray for one other person in the circle - for strength for their challenge, for blessing on their "I will..." statement, for the Lord's grace on their lives, etc.

List of Scripture Passage Sets

When choosing which Scripture passages to study, you may find it helpful to use one of these recommended lists: Recommended Scripture Sets from murraymoerman.com 

Tips & Strategies for Group Facilitators

  1. Refreshments: If refreshments are served, do so before or after the Discovery Bible Study so concentration is not broken.
  2. Rotate Facilitators: After you’ve led 2 or 3 times, invite others in the group to facilitate two times so they can grow in skill and confidence in preparation for leading their own group.
  3. Pace yourself: Keep the group process moving so all questions are engaged before time runs out.

Welcome periodic moments of silence while people listen to the Lord or while writing in their notebooks. Ask questions of the group as a whole, allowing the Spirit time to prompt someone to respond, or occasionally go around the circle giving freedom to anyone who wishes to "pass" - but avoid putting anyone on the spot. Encourage economy of words, to share briefly and often.

  1. Let the Holy Spirit teach: If one member of the group speaks too much, say, "Thanks for sharing. Let's hear also what quieter members of the group have to share." If a member of the group wanders to other topics, you may need to bring the group back to the text by asking, "Where do you see that in this passage?”

Resist the temptation to respond to your own questions, or do so only minimally, normally after the others have spoken. ONLY ask questions (do not research in advance and teach what you've learned). This is so the group remains "Word-centered" (the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word), not teacher-centered. (This requires trust that the Lord will lead the person facilitating the question process).

  1. Prayer for personal transformation: Make sure to leave ample time for prayer after sharing "I will..." statements.

To enable everyone to pray and be prayed for, generally pray in 2's so prayer remains personal. Alternatively, ask each person in the group to pray for one other person. Suggest focus on seeking God's transformation through "I will..." statements and empowerment for personal challenges shared earlier. Generally good to keep prayers on the shorter side but to pray repeatedly.

  1. Small is better (counter-intuitive): Keep the group small to enable everyone to share (5 or 6 people is best).

If the group goes beyond seven people, form two groups. In preparation for this growth, after you've led 2 or 3 times, remember to invite others in the group to facilitate two times so they can grow in skill and confidence in preparation for leading their own group.

  1. Three is better: When another group is formed, keep in touch with the group leader to encourage him or her and help as she or he prepares to birth new groups.

Aim to birth three or more groups. As groups increase, form a "facilitators' community" composed of a lead facilitator from each group. This group meets less often, perhaps monthly, to learn together to solve problems and to pray together for greater fruitfulness for the Kingdom. 

Go and Make Disciples

We can be ready and fully engaged in advancing Jesus’ core calling to us all: “Go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)              

Questions will arise. Let me know: MurrayMoerman@gmail.com.

*This article has been previously pubished on the Outreach Canada blog as "How the Church can Make Disciples in 2023". This article has been republished by permission of the author.


Murray Moerman began his work with OC as the Director of Church Planting Canada. From there he moved to the UK where he served as OC Europe Area Director and helped found the Global Church Planting Network (GCPN). Now, back in Canada, Murray serves within GCPN, leading the Saturation Church Planting Taskforce partnership and other national church planting process initiatives. Murray is a member of the DMM (Disciple Making Movements) team at Outreach Canada. 



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