Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads you into all truth…” –John 14:15-17
What is Discovery Bible Study (DBS)?
DBS is a simple yet effective method for helping people become obedient disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). It is a way for groups to read and discuss the Bible using four strategic questions to discover God and His guidance for our daily lives. In DBS, no one is responsible for teaching – the group is simply reading, listening to, and discussing the Scripture together, trusting God’s Spirit to be their teacher and to reveal the truth of God’s Word as they listen, discuss, and respond with active obedience (John 14:15-17).
The focus of DBS is discipleship – not just gaining knowledge, but actually practicing the teachings of Jesus. DBS is dependent upon the Holy Spirit speaking to people through the Word of God to shape people into obedient disciples of Jesus. DBS is intended for both believers and those who are not yet believers. The Holy Spirit is working in the life of every participant to shape us into more obedient disciples of Jesus!
The Leader of the DBS is the Host & Facilitator – Not the Teacher:
The leader of the DBS is a peer – a fellow learner with the rest of the DBS group. Resist the urge to explain the Bible to participants, or to tell them what they should do to obey His Word. Instead, participate as a fellow disciple – one who is also seeking to hear from the Holy Spirit how to become a more obedient follower of Jesus. Allow the group to process out loud what the Holy Spirit is saying to them, and trust the Holy Spirit to reveal His Truth. Instead of teaching, focus on helping everyone feel welcome (hosting) and helping the discussion flow freely between participants (facilitating).
A DBS group meeting has three segments: Look Back, Look Up, Look Forward:
Look Back – This segment is to check-in with each other since your last meeting together:
- How are you today? How has your week been?
- How did you do with your “I will” statements from last week? (You will not have this question at your first meeting, but it is THE essential discipleship question of every subsequent meeting! If the DBS is not resulting in obedient responses to what the Holy Spirit is saying, then discipleship is not really happening…)
Look Up – This segment is to read, re-tell, listen to, and discuss today’s Bible passage together:
PRAY – One participant prays, welcoming the Spirit of God among you, and asking Him to reveal His Truth to your group through God’s Word.
READ – Several participants read through today’s Bible passage aloud, 2-3 times, from different translations of the Bible, if available.
RE-TELL – 1-2 participants then take turns re-telling the passage orally, as best they can from memory. This is not a performance – it is a chance for the group to listen for God in the passage again, internalize the message in their own minds, and help fill in any details that were missed.
DISCUSS – Facilitate group discussion & discoveries using the following four questions:
1-What do these verses say about God?
2-What do these verses say about people?
3-If these verses are true, then what should I start or stop doing in response?
4-Who is someone I will share these discoveries with this week?
Look Forward – This segment is to foster active obedience to Jesus among the participants this week:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” –James 1:22
After the group fully discusses the four questions above, take time to allow everyone to make two “I will” statements out of their answers to questions 3 and 4 above:
- “This week, I will start __________.” Or, “This week, I will stop __________.”
- “This week, I will share __(one discovery)__ with __(name of person)__.”
These are two of the questions you will check back in on at your next meeting together during the opening “Look Back” segment.
Which passage of Scripture should we read and discuss?
DBS is a powerful method for studying ANY portion of the Bible! Your group could work your way through a single Book of the Bible, discussing 8-10 verses per week. Or you could choose a Biblical topic and discuss all the verses in the Bible on that topic. Or you could follow a daily reading plan or lectionary for passages to read and discuss.
Can children participate in a DBS?
Absolutely YES! Children can and should be encouraged to participate. The effectiveness of DBS is in listening, discovering, and practicing. Both children and adults alike can hear from God’s Spirit through this powerful method of Bible study.
Can DBS groups meet online?
Yes, yes, YES!. We are hearing numerous stories of DBS groups using a variety of video-conferencing services with great success!
How many people should be in a DBS group?
Any group size between 2-8 people can hold a successful DBS together, but it is important that everyone has the chance to answer the questions. Thus, an ideal group size would be about 4-5 people. It is also possible to do the Scripture-reading, re-telling, and questions 1-2 in a larger group setting, then break up into smaller groups to discuss questions 3-4.