I first heard about Discovery Bible Study (DBS) in 2019. A group of ministers had gathered to hear Shodankeh Johnson, a well-known disciple making movement leader in Sierra Leone, Africa, share about how they had used DBS in reaching new people to start new churches.
If you are unfamiliar with DBS, here’s the concept, in a nutshell… DBS is a discipleship/bible study tool that utilizes easy to remember questions that you can work through either on your own or with those you are discipling. After reading through a scripture each week that ties into your particular study, you then discover more about that scripture by asking questions like:
- What does this story tell us about God?
- What does this story tell us about people/myself?
- If this is God’s word for our lives, what changes will I make in response to it? (These are usually expressed as “I Will” statements)
- Who am I going to tell about this?
The DBS method provokes the ability to learn, live and share the Word.
There were several aspects of DBS that appealed to me and led me to try it out three years ago—and I have been using it ever since.
- DBS is Simple – Anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere with anyone. It doesn’t take a degree in theology to lead the study. In fact, even a non-Christian can pick up a scripture and follow the DBS question list to learn and grow.
Most of my approaches, prior to DBS, were quite a bit more complicated and, therefore, were not very reproducible. I was learning the value of simplicity and how simplicity is essential for reproducibility. This is a valuable lesson that can also be applied to much more than Bible study, that I am thankful for DBS introducing to my ministry. For example, how do we train people to lead small groups? We could draft a 50-page small group leaders manual to address every conceivable issue that requires a Master’s Degree in theology to implement, but the odds are that most churches only have so many people qualified to lead at that level. If the goal is to get the whole church into groups, a simpler path might be needed.
With DBS, I found I could have an entire quarter of Bible study material prepared with a simple list of 13 scriptures. It is so simple, in fact, if you were called on to teach on short notice, you could use the DBS method to teach or even preach a sermon. If you met someone and they wanted to study on the spot, you would know exactly what to do. It is just that simple.
- DBS Moves us to Maturity – It took a lesson from Curtis Sergeant to put the pieces together on this one. He teaches that maturity is like a three-legged stool. The three legs are growing in:
- Knowledge of the Bible
- Sharing with Others
DBS does all three! You hear the Word to interpret the Word (growing in knowledge), to obey the Word (what am I going to do about this passage?) and to share some aspect of what you learn with others (who am I going to tell about this passage?).
- DBS Shows Us that God is at Work – DBS gives us a front row seat to watch God work! How many Bible studies have you been in where you heard a lesson, talked about how one ‘might’ apply it and then went home—and frankly, didn’t think much more about it? DBS includes an “I will” statement where you commit to doing something, during the week, with what you have learned. What is being modeled is that we hear the word (read, re-read, tell, re-tell) to understand the word (What does it tell us about God/people?) to live or obey the Word (“I will” statement). Then, when the study resumes the following week, that study begins with a discussion around what you did and what God did with the “I will” work.
What we find is that we end up telling God stories. It might be something like, “You won’t believe what happened… when I went out and spoke with my neighbor about that hard topic… God moved the conversation in the right direction!” The whole group begins seeing that when we live the Word, we see God work in ways we hadn’t seen before. It builds our faith!
Discovery Bible Study is a powerful tool to get people in the Word, to know the Word, to live the Word and to share the Word. This is so much of what discipleship is all about. It is not a perfect approach but it is a great start for people who are new to the faith and even people who have been around for a long time, but never were expected to make commitments to live out what they had learned.
If you would like to know more about DBS, obtain the question list and some general guidelines, you can download the free guide by clicking on this link – What is Discovery Bible Study?