Here’s some wisdom from a friend who knows a lot more about Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) as a method of evangelism, disciple making and planting churches.
In most situations, it is best to start with two or three (or more). Try and reach a community, not just an individual … This gives the meeting a sense of community from the beginning. Jesus discipled people in groups, and it is the best way to learn. It is the Rabbi and his group of his disciples. It is important to understand this when understanding how Jesus created followers.
The DBS also has the power of accountability and multiplication.
Three letters A-B-C
Ask what has been good this week? Its important to be specific. Not “how are you”. “What has been good for you?” forces people to say the good things that have happened. This then is the basis of thanking God. This teaches people to praise and thank God.
Then ask what has been difficult, bad or challenging this week. This forms the basis of prayer for needs, as you pray for needs, whatever they are this allows the space for God to break through and do a miracle.
Then Pray, thanking God for what is good, and praying for the needs. Keep the prayers simple, easy and to the point. As quick as possible get others praying. Make your own prayers really simple, so it doesn’t sound religious or ‘professional’. This helps new disciples overcome the intimidation of learning how to pray. It’s important to teach people how to pray, with others, out aloud. It’s an important part of making a disciple.
From the beginning the aim is to teach self discovery. To not rely on a teacher, but to understand that the Bible, with the Holy Spirit as revealer is sufficient. Here is the system.
Self discovered truth that is applied by the person stays with the person. It sticks. It is their truth. It is personal and owned. Jesus did this a lot in his discipleship. He asked the disciples ‘Who do men say that I am?’ … and ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and ‘Well done, flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven’. Why didn’t Jesus just tell them? Why didn’t he just say from the beginning ‘Hey guys, I am the Messiah, the Son of the living God!’ No, he let the process of discovery happen over time, he let it come by revelation from his Father, he allowed people to go through a process to discover who he was. This is the same goal and process of the DBS discipleship process.
First choose a Scripture that is simple, not too long and to the point.
A story or narrative is good. I have pasted 20 lesson plans below that has been devised for Muslims. A good place to start. Feel free to chop and change this, or study a scripture that is applicable to peoples questions and context. Pasted below are long passages, so the idea is to select a smaller passage out of these chapters. So for the first lesson, for example, I would focus on Gen 1:26 – 28
Read the scripture.
If the person is bi-lingual, read it aloud in their language then reread it in English. If they are not not bi-lingual, it is good to read it and then re-read it.
Then retell the story.
This is important as it cements the story in our minds. The retelling of the story should be a group affair. One person can attempt to re-tell the story, and others can chip in and add to the picture. In this way the story is painted by the group.
Then ask ‘so what?’
The key is for the leader (you) not to jump in to quickly and teach! Let them think, and talk. What do they see in scripture? Don’t be afraid of awkward silences. If they ask you to explain, turn it around by asking them what do they think? Sometimes it is good to simply be quiet, and let them come up with the answers. This is very hard to do, as we are so used to providing all the answers, but the key discipline for this process. The key in this process is self discovery. The teachers job is to give space for the person to learn. To put in their own words what they see. You have to trust the Holy Spirit!
You can ask and prompt with questions like… ‘What does this say about God?’ ‘What does this say about us?’, ‘Are there areas you are bothered by?” What do you like?’
If you are talking more than the disciple, then you are talking too much. You know if you are being successful if the other person is talking more than you.
Keep it centred on scripture.
If the person is veering off course, bring it back to scripture by saying ‘Where do you see that in this scripture?’
C Commit to obey.
The third part of this process is to ground the talk into obedience steps. Jesus described making disciples as ‘teaching people to obey everything I have commanded you.’ We often miss the words ‘to obey’. Our discipleship processes are often knowledge based and not obedience/action based. There is key difference. The question is ‘So what will you do about this?’ This becomes the obedience step. Let the person come up with their own commitment. It might be something like ‘I need to respect people’.. Or I need to be thankful’. Or something very specific, like ‘I need to stop shouting at my kids!’ Whatever it is , it needs to be listened to and respected. It is ok if it simple application. When someone commits to obey, truth that has come via scripture and revelation, in this process, becomes lived, personal and owned.
Finally the last key is to ‘tell someone this week what you are learning’. So sharing and multiplication is built into discipleship from day one. Even before they ‘get saved’ they start spreading what they have been learning. It’s all about making disciples from the beginning that multiply. Talk about who they are going to share with…
So it’s as simple as ABC. It begins with worship and thanksgiving. Then Scripture is the centre, the teacher empowers the person, and doesn’t have all the answers. The disciple discovers the truth in the Word, and learns to obey and share with others from day one.
Our focus is making disciples, allowing for salvation to come through that process, rather than the traditional way of trying to get someone ‘saved’ (Usually say the sinners prayer) and then discipling them. It takes time, we are not in a hurry.
In this process, we are letting people discover God’s story, the big picture. It is about reshaping peoples world view around this new world view. A biblical world view. This is important. For Hindu’s, Muslims, Buddhists and now most Aussies, they need to rediscover God’s story.
This method is simple, but very powerful. Thousands of churches have been planted through this methodology. It is sometimes so simple that people walk by it and miss its power. I believe it is the best discipleship process I have seen. It’s worth trying a few times and not giving up to quickly on it. There will be great times and other times where it does not seem to work. Keep at it, I am convinced it will bear fruit.
And all this should be easily done in under 2 hours!