Discovery Bible Study


We used to use our Bible school classes to bring the Word of God into the lives of people. From when I was just a little guy, I remember going to Bible classes on Sunday before the worship. I went to Wednesday night Bible classes. I had some amazing teachers that helped me ingrain the word into my heart. Do you remember those contests of how many scriptures you could memorize in a quarter, or the Bible drills on where you found certain Bible texts, or even who could find the book of Malachi the fastest? These activities brought the Bible into our lives when we were young and provided us a foundation as we grew.

People still need those foundational Bible activities and ideas in their lives. The question is how do we do this in a fast-paced world where Bible classes are no longer emphasized and church attendance has declined from an average of 120 to now around 80 just in the past 25 years?

One way to do this is through what has been called Discovery Bible Study, or DBS for short. Discovery Bible Study is a simple, group-based method for helping people engage with the Bible. While the insights and process of DBS are not new, David and Paul Watson put it into a simple, easy to use package then they termed Discovery Bible Study. You can watch a helpful video on DBS here.

DBS is a question-based approach to Bible study rather than a teacher-based approach. The important difference between these two approaches is that a teacher-based approach requires some sense of expertise where a question-based approach can be done by anyone. DBS is based around a series of simple questions that anyone can easily facilitate.

Here is how I have done DBS Bible studies in homes and small groups, in Bible classes, and even with whole congregations.

Begin the session with these 3 simple questions:

1.              What are you thankful for this week?

2.              What has caused you stress this week?

3.              Do you know someone who needs our help? How can our group help them?

These questions get the group talking about significant emotions and events in their lives, and it helps them start thinking about people outside of the group. It also gets them ready to explore in a more personal way what the Bible has to say about how to live life.

After these questions it is a good time to pause and pray, to give God thanks for all the thankful things that people have said, to ask his help for the stressful things, and to pray for those situations or people that were identified as needing help.

Then move into the Bible passage for the study. A good DBS bible passage is a bit longer than you might think. A passage that is something like 10 to 20 or even 25 verses long is a good BS passage. Gospel stories are usually good lengths for a DBS, so a study of the gospels is a good study for a group to go through using DBS. The Old Testament narrative books also make good DBS studies. You can break up New Testament letters into good DBS length studies as well.

To begin the Bible study, what I do is to ask two people to read the passage all the way through, each from different versions. This gets more people participating and it lets everyone hear the passage a little bit differently each time. Before we read, I ask someone to volunteer to be a reteller of the story. A reteller is someone who will listen closely as the passage is being read and then retell the passage in their own words. Then let the whole group fill in anything important that may have been left out. This read-read-retell gets the whole group involved with listening and engaging with the Bible story.

Next, we go to a series of three questions about the Bible text that the group talks about together.

1.     What does this passage say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit)?

2.     What does this passage say about people?

3.     What does this passage say about living?

Let the group bring up their ideas. As a facilitator you can always ask them “where do we find that idea in this text?” Always guide them back to the text and what the Bible is saying to them. Remind them that these stories have a purpose: to help us know how to live well as people of God.

The final Bible question is about obedience. This question is “how can I live out the meaning of this text this week?” You can add these three questions to help fill out this application part of the Bible study:

1.     What is it in this text that you think you are doing well?

2.      What might you need to change in your life?

3.      Do you know someone who needs to hear this and how would you go about sharing it with them?

Download a very good guide to Discovery Bible Study by clicking on the button below.

Enjoy discovering how easy, fun, and helpful Discovery Bible Study is in your church. I’d love to hear some of your stories from DBS in the future.

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