In our last post, Introduction to Discovery Bible Study (DBS), we looked at DBS as a discipleship tool to help followers of Jesus enter into a deeper, fuller reading of God's word and move toward greater maturity using DBS. With this article, we'll look at how to use DBS with your friends who are not yet followers of Jesus.
Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations. Making disciples begins by helping people who are far from God find their way into a relationship with him. They need to hear the good news of Jesus.
They need to be evangelized.
There are a lot of images that probably come to mind when you think about evangelizing but I wonder if sitting down and reading the Bible with your Muslim friend is one of them. Richard Kronk conducted research on the conversion to Christianity of Muslims immigrants in North America and found that 82% of former Muslims in the study had found or recieved a Bible and read it.
The Bible's influence should not surprise us.
Scripture is clear that the word of God is powerful. Isaiah reminds us that:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (55:10-11)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that "the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (4:12). And Paul in his letter to the Romans makes it abundantly clear that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ " (10:17).
If we believe what the Bible says about the Bible, then we should do all we can to help our Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist friends find their way into the Bible, to read it for themselves and allow the word of God and the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and minds.
Discovery Bible Study is a simple tool that you can facilitate. It allows non-believeing friends to explore scripture in a non-threatening way and provides you a simple format to help them discover God in His word for themselves. It relies on the word of God and the Holy Spirit rather than on you.
DBS is in one sense a slow form of evangelism.
It is as well a powerful tool to begin to set the DNA of new believers and begin training them even before they commit to following Jesus. It is simple - we read a scripture together and together explore the scripture through a series of questions. Because of this simplicity anyone can facilitate a discovery Bible study; you, new believers, even those who have not yet believed.
Gordon Baines in his article, DBS in a Nutshell, cites six key reasons why he thinks DBS is such a powerful tool:
Intervarsity, in an article about DBS, shares four important principles to consider. Discovery Bible Studies should focus on:
So How Does It Work?
The first step is to simply ask your friend or a group of friends or a family if they would like to read the Bible with you. You can simply ask your friends this question: I'm looking for someone to read the Bible with me. Would you be interested?
See if you can get together with them at their home and with their family. Gather around tea or coffee and follow the format below.
Basic Format for a DBS
Below is a basic format for DBS that we teach at our Everywhere to Everywhere events. It follows a three thirds process. The first third of meeting time is dedicated to pastoral care and taking care of one another as well as accountability. The second third is dedicated to the scriptures through the discovery method. The final third is focused on application, practice and commissioning. Allow equal time for each third - 20-30 minutes at least.
Here is what your DBS time can look like:
What is one thing you are thankful for and one thing that is stressing you out?
How did you do this week with your personal application? Who did you share with? Did we meet any needs in our community?
Read the scripture passage out loud 2-3 times.
Retell the passage using your own words as if you were having a cup of coffee with a friend. (Not what you think it means but simply retell it.)
How will you practically apply what you learned in the passage to your life this week? What is one thing you will do or change because of this story?
Who can you tell about what your learned this week? When?
BLESSING THE COMMUNITY
Is there anyone we know who has a need and can we as a group do something about it? Who can we bless?
What Passages Should I Start With?
The passages that you chose to read during your discovery time will depend on the context. Around the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world, many are starting with a set of stories called Creation to Christ studies. These start with Genesis 1 - God's creation of the world, and then works forward to Christ. Starting with creation and our creator God allows you to begin with a story that is similar to what Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists believe. You can find a creation to Christ study at the link below.
[Creation to Christ DBS Study]
Other story sets start with Jesus. These can be good for someone who wants to learn about Jesus or for your friend who is disillusioned with church and religion. Below are a few more story sets and ideas.
[Stories of Hope DBS Study] -- [Signs of John DBS Study]
As you connect and grow to understand your friend or group, you’ll find that you will begin to put your own story sets together in response to the questions and needs of the group.
For example, if your group has particular anxiety over the power of jinn (evil spirits in Islam) in the world, you might put together four or five stories of power encounters with evil spirits from the Bible.
In the Intervarsity article cited above, the author includes story sets for topics like graduation, Easter and leadership.
[Intervarsity Story Sets]
Do you have any story sets that you use for a particular topic or issue? Share them in the comments below.
Discovery Bible Study is a tested method of reading the Bible with your not yet believing friends. It is simple. It gets them into the living and active word of God and it allows them to discover for themselves the living God of the Bible.
I would encourage you to start by doing a DBS with some believing friends or with your family. Commit to doing all of the Stories of Hope study or Signs of John study above. It will take some time to get used to DBS so stick with it.
Once you familiarize yourself with the process – this should only take a time or two – begin praying for an opportunity to invite your non-believing friend to read a story of God’s book with you. And be sure and check out the video and resources below.
Learn it - Apply it - Share it - Today.
Below is a 20 minute introduction by some African brothers and sisters that is really fantastic.
- Miraculous Movments, - What Jesus Started, - Contagous Discilple Making, - The Father Glorified
How to Reach the World with a New Style of Bible Study
Discovery Bible Study
Various DBS Topical Story Sets
City Team Videos - No Place Left Videos -
Gary Stump - James Nyman - David Watson
*books are affiliate links
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