It's great that you are thinking about launching a Discovery Bible Study (DBS). To get started you really only need three things:
Finding people to do a study with, may be the hardest part. If you've not read it already, a good starting place for this is our article Jesus' Discipleship Strategy. This lays out how Jesus instructed his disciples to go about finding People of Peace - someone who opens their home and their family or community to you and the gospel.
When looking to start groups there are a few considerations which may make it easier:
As the name suggests, the Bible is central to the Discovery Bible Study approach. If the group is literate, then having paper bibles available is always a good idea if it is possible. Often, however, this is not possible or a lack of literacy makes this more difficult. In this case it is possible to pass stories on by learning them off by heart or by using recordings.
The Discover App is a really useful resource, because it provides a creation to Christ lesson plan in multiple languages, with both text and audio recordings.
It is essential to have a lesson set in mind before commencing a discipleship group. There are several good lists out there (including the Discover App, and the set in the appendix to Miraculous Movements) which are generally applicable. However, some stories work better in certain contexts than others, so it is worth being open to adjusting lesson sets to avoid problematic stories in favour of others which better bring out the same point.
David Garrison, in his essay Church Planting Movements, identified ten common elements in all of the movements he studied (we'll look at all of these in more detail in a later article). The first one on the list, however, is prayer - which he identifies as the power source of the movement.
It is God who draws people to himself. God who brings them to faith. The work of the Holy Spirit is vital both as a power source and encouragement to the church planter and as the central inspiration in the Discovery Groups themselves.
Whilst DBS are easy to run, it is worth practicing. We find using a DBS approach to our personal devotions helps in this. When running a group with others, it is important to remember that the aim is not to lead, or to answer people's questions. Rather it is to enocurage obedient discipleship by allowing them to discover the answers for themselves and to put them into practice. Ideally external facilitators should be stepping out of the groups sooner rather than later and allowing the groups to run themselves. People will imitate the behaviours that they see modeled. If you make it easy for people to participate, and empower others to lead, so will they.
It is also important not to get discouraged. A lot of groups don't make very far before giving up. At a conference Neil Cole (author of Organic Church) reminded us of the parable of sower. Three out of four soil types did not yield a crop. The other type, however, went on to yield a disproportionate harvest. In other words, don't dwell on failure - but focus on the few that are making progress.
Scripture quotations from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.