The challenge in making obedient disciples is to teach obedience. In the context of Disciple Making Movements, we have seen that the best tool to teach obedience is Discovery Bible Study (DBS). Do not teach or preach; instead facilitate discovery and obedience. -Jerry Trousdale Miraculous Movements p.106
Discovery Bible Study is a method put into extensive practice by Cityteam International in their disciple making movements which are sweeping Africa and resulting in over 200,000 converts in less than a decade. You can read more about Cityteam International and their work with indigenous church planters in Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale (you can read my review of the book here).
I like to use many different methods to read and study the Bible, and I do something a little different everyday. I've developed discipline with many methods, but as a whole I'm rarely faithful to a single approach every single day. Discovery Bible Study is changing that. The emphasis on inductive study leading to obedience has been transforming. The last two years have done a lot to mold me into an obedient disciple and witness, and the intentional, practical simplicity of DBS has changed the way I understand discipleship, and has changed the way I do cross-cultural ministry.
Before going out to do ministry, meeting with students, or spending time with unbelievers, my evangelism partners and I take an inventory of what we’ve read in the gospels lately and ask the Lord to show us which story we should tell. We follow Christ’s example by retelling His parables and teachings as well as describing events in His earthly life and ministry, climaxing in His death, resurrection, and ascension. We practice telling stories to each other regularly and ask the Lord to provide an opportunity to tell stories in conversations.
This method partners well with distributing Scripture. We give copies of the New Testament and the Gospel of Mark to everyone we can. When we tell stories, we can tell the listener to pull out their New Testament and read along. This leads to an impromptu Bible study. These impromptu Bible studies are invariably Discovery Bible Studies based on inductive application of the Word with a focus on obedience.
The Discovery Bible Study uses the inductive method of Bible study. Its purpose is not to build knowledge, even though people do develop their understandings of biblical teachings as they develop sound doctrine. rather it is a careful analysis of the Word of God in order to discover what are the principles of life for a disciple, for a Christian leader, and for the church. As people discover these principles, they align their lives to them. So the primary purpose of the DBS is to help people (nonbelievers and believers) discover and understand the teachings of Jesus in a way that leads them to obedience (2 Timothy 3:15-41).The principles behind DBS groups are similar to many Bible study formats and missions models, but the surprisingly simple method and application of the principles generates rapid multiplication of willing and obedient disciples. The obedience focus has culture and religion bending effect, creating an active participation in the Word rather than a passive acceptance of doctrine. Trousdale outlines this more in his book and David Watson features a lengthy post on his blog regarding DBS and inductive Bible study which is well worth the read. I will probably quote from it in upcoming posts. These driving principles inform the approach and method of DBS, but for this blog, the practical "how to" and the practice of DBS for the individual will the be the focus. The majority of the next post will describe how to start DBS for yourself and what DBS looks like for an individual reader.
In the context of Disciple Making Movements, the DBS is a group meeting. It introduces and develops from the beginning the core values of discipleship, leadership, and church. The DBS is designed in such a way that the different parts of a session develop the DNA of church in the group. (When we refer to "the DNA" of a church, we mean that habits learned early-- obedience to God's Word, prayer, worship, and so forth-- remain habits when a person accepts Christ. Those habits become part of the new believer's daily life, simply because they were implanted as "DNA" previously.) By so doing, when the group members accept Christ, they will discover that they have already been "doing church" form the first days. p. 107
In our research for this book, we met people who came to the interviews with their Discovery Bible Study notebooks filled with pages of hand-written Scripture, insights from God's Word, and "I will" statements of obedience to God. It was precious to see how important those notebooks were to these people; the pages had swelled from the pressure of the pen on paper. They knew what they had promised God, and they had recorded His answers to their prayers. p. 109The whole of this series will rely heavily on Jerry Trousdale's Miraculous Movements and work by Dave Watson. By all means read these sources; I hope they become milestones in global church transformation.
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By Jerry Trousdale / Thomas Nelson