Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Discovery Bible Study Part 4 - Group

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

I'm currently involved in three Discovery Bible Study groups, one of which could be considered a house church or a cell in what we hope would be a multiplying movement. The DBS method, though useful for the individual, is intended for group use. The principles of obedience and inductive participation are vital for any discipleship method, but DBS makes the most of Church Planting Movement or Disciple Making Movement principles, emphasizing multiplication of groups of disciples over Church growth.

One of the groups I'm involved with is the home group I mentioned previously which includes two very new believers, four more mature believers and the occasional unbeliever or member of another religion. We study the book of Luke and take communion together every week. One of the members was led to the Lord in the group, and we have baptized two believers in the Detroit river.

One of the groups is made up of four unbelievers all of whom currently confess one of two eastern religions. I lead the study through the book of Mark.

The third group is a group of leaders and we study through City Team's Church Planters Curriculum.

All of the groups follow an adapted form of the outline below:

The process of the Discovery Bible Study should be simple enough that everyone can follow, literate or not. Remember that we have designed the type of church that we want to see started: simple, obedient, biblical, culturally relevant, and reproductive. The DNA that we want to see developed is this: obedience, prayer, reproduction, genuine concern for the community, and outward focus on the lost. From the first day you should sow the seed of each element that you want to see characterized in the church later.
Section 1: Opening
Ask the following questions to determine how to minister to the person:

  • What are you thankful for this week?
  • What has worried you this week? What do you need to make the situation better? (This will lead to prayer and an opportunity to serve one another.)
  • What are the needs of the people in your community? (This will lead to prayer, compassionate service, and opportunities to make disciples.)
  • How can we help one another with the needs we expressed? (This will become koinonea fellowship, a close community of relationship and meeting one another's needs.)

Section 2: Review
This section starts with the second DBS meeting. Ask the following questions:

  • What did we talk about last week? (accountability)
  • What changed in your life as a result of last week's story and the point of obedience you discovered? (accountability for experience)
  • How did it go when you shared the story with someone else? (accountability for evangelism and reproduction)
  • We identified several needs last week and planned to meet those needs. How did it go? (accountability for meeting one another's needs)
Section 4: Go and Live it Out
Help your DBS group to apply the Scriptures in their lives through obedience to God's Word.
  • Ask, "Who are you going to share this passage with before we meet again?" (evangelism and replication)
  • Say, "From now on, let's practice what we have seen today. It is the truth from the Creator, and we all should live according to that truth."
  • Ask, "When do you want to meet again?" This is a practical question. You will never get people to commit to many weeks of study, but you can give them the option to meet again next week. If they are really seeking, and if the meeting is filling a need, they will tell you that they want to meet again. 
  • If there was a need in section 1 to visit someone or a family in the community, go with two or three people from the group to visit.
- Jerry Trousdale,  Miraculous Movements  p. 194-196

The interaction of believers over the Word of God without an authoritative teacher or preacher (though I believe in and value both) creates an atmosphere of mutual discovery. Members feel a greater responsibility and ownership towards what they feel the Holy Spirit is directly revealing to them about their lives. The focus of the study applies the Word specifically to each member's life and requires a commitment to obedience and evangelism.

David Watson's blog features an excellent post on inductive versus deductive study. The post highlights the principles and design of inductive study and explains why it is preferable to deductive study for discipleship. The writers of much of the material along these lines strongly discourage preaching and teaching, which I understand, though I would point out that preaching and teaching are also vital for evangelism and discipleship and have their place. I believe preaching is a method ordained by God. However, we must swallow our ego and our desire to be heard and discern when to preach and when to allow the Holy Spirit to speak directly to people.

Disciples must learn to hear the Lord and pursue obedience on their own, and they must be able to help others do the same without the presence of teachers and preachers. My desire is to lead  and facilitate discovery in a way that even the least equipped saint can reproduce. Even if someone is not called or equipped to preach and teach, they can open the Word with a group and say, "Lord, what must I do? What do you want to teach us?" We have a promise that we don't need a teacher other than the Holy Spirit and that He teaches us all things (1 John 2:27). Let's rely on that promise. He is the teacher.

There are many (apart from those already mentioned) who offer excellent resources on similar methods:


Check out CityTeam's disciple-making resources and the links below:

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

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