Q & A: Empowering Strategies

Are there any particular pockets of people you find most responsive to DBS—e.g., the poor?

The common denominator that I see is “everyday people.” Believers, who have previously viewed themselves as unprepared to make significant contributions to the spread of the kingdom, find DBSs empowering. Different people have told me months/years after their training that what excited them is they had always assumed they were not qualified to share the gospel with others because they did not go to Bible College. These comments always take me to Paul’s statement that apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers are called to “to equip [God’s] people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). Often, the more highly educated a person is the less likely he/she is open to the idea of the Holy Spirit speaking to everyone through the Word.

Hunter did not come to faith until after high school. Through a dating relationship he fell in love with Jesus. Recently he did cross-cultural missions by serving as an English teacher in Asia. While there he shared with me, “When I first came [to faith] I always felt that you had to have tons of training and years of experience to be effective. It was not until I went to the workshop that I really threw all that out and really started to grow. It was the first time I felt confident and okay that I did not know everything and that it was okay to make mistakes. I have always wanted to do this but I did not feel that I was able to until that time. It really changed my life for the better.”

Martha had just started learning to facilitate Discovery Bible Studies. She wrote, “I contacted Jorene and shared about your training. She wanted me to share with her. I have plans to meet her at the Siegel Ball Park tomorrow evening while her boys play soccer and go over what you shared last week and will share tonight.  She just wrote me and asked if some “hungry” soccer Moms could join us.  I responded, “sure”…just tell them to bring their Bibles, a notebook, pen, open heart and mind and let’s see what happens.  We’re going to meet at a picnic table… that’s close to “under a tree”, isn’t it?” [A reference to DBS groups in Africa often meeting under a tree.]

Jorene wrote Martha the next week, “I just wanted to tell you a couple of cool things that have happened since we met at the soccer fields.  It looks like the soccer parents are really wanting to do a Bible study together and spend some time praying for our families.  I think that we will start this week.  I don’t know what it will look like, but I never dreamed that I could be doing Bible study at the soccer fields.  I’m just letting God figure out the details of it.”

She went on to describe what happened when she, her husband and their 14 and 11 year old boys used a discovery format for family worship, “We studied Matthew 6:33.  We did not discuss it until everybody had completed the study sheet.  I wanted the kids to hear from God and I think they did!  Every answer was so different, but I can see how God is working differently in each of their lives.  It was beautiful!  I have spent so many years teaching them and I love teaching them.  But, I think that this is a perfect tool to transition them to hearing from God and letting the Holy Spirit teach them.  I’m not telling them what the verse means, God is!”

Empowering “everyday” people is what excites me. Watching the light bulb come on brings great joy. Hearing them share what people hear from the Word who are handling it for the first time in their lives is so rich. Being obedient to Ephesians 4:12 is so rewarding!

[NOTE: Names have been changed.]


  1. John, do you have a suggested list of sequential scripture recommendations that fit with the 8-Questions for small group meetings? Or, have you written curricula like this beginning with not-yet-believers? I may not have looked hard enough and if not, I apologize.

    Blessings and thanks,


  2. John, I tweeted this to you but others visiting your blog may have the same question. When you are doing a 3 Column study and a cross reference pops into your head … should you bring it up during group time? How do you handle that?


    1. I do not raise cross references in a Discovery study if not-yet believers are present since I do not want to flood them. I want them to experience hearing from one text

      If another text really gets at a significant issue they raise, then I might make that next week’s passage. Then I would go back to the scripture list the week after that.


      1. Maybe doing a 3-column study of that passage for your next personal session will create a growing clarity/conviction for you and this experience will equip you for facilitating a similar discovery for others. The issue is helping those with no biblical foundation to develop one through a discovery process that they can reproduce for personal benefit and also pass on to others they know.

      2. Thanks. Actually I was studying the passage my group at church will be discussing without me DBS style tomorrow because I have to be somewhere else on campus. So we’ll see how the hand off goes!

  3. I spoke with the “stand in” facilitator. Things went well. Next week another facilitator is standing in for me too. He has experienced the sequence in the class, but I have contacted him to see if we can sit down a few minute so that I can explain the “why” (DNA) of the system. But then the week after that today’s facilitator will step back in.


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