4. The Role Of Scripture In Discipling


The Discovery Bible Study is an interactive Bible study where learning is through a series of questions that help participants to think deeply about the topic (Hebrews 4:12). A thorough explanation was given in the lesson on the Field Two: Sowing, called Understanding Discipleship Bible Studies. Here is a quick summary from that lesson:

A Discovery Bible Study has three parts

  1. Looking Back

Thanksgiving: What can we celebrate?

Prayer needs and prayer time

Accountability feedback from last meeting

  1. Looking up

Read or recite a Bible story

Reconstruct the story in own words

Ask four questions:

  1. What does the passage say about God?
  2. What does it say about people?
  3. How does the passage challenge you?
  4. Who can I share this with in the next week?

3. Looking forward

Share the vision of the harvest

Spend time praying for who to reach out to this week

Pray for each other


The DBS system uses what we call inductive learning. This type of learning is often called bottom up learning. It is about discovering something for yourself and then applying it to a bigger picture. It is the most powerful type of learning as it activates Holy Spirit led “ah-ha” moments of insight and inspiration. Science is all about inductive learning.

This is in contrast to most traditional Bible learning which is deductive teaching. This means you are told what to believe by the Bible study leader and then apply that truth to a specific situation. Traditional schools and the military are all about deductive learning.

The DBS system flips traditional Bible teaching on its head and allows the Holy Spirit to get involved as the teacher and the learner discovers truth instead of being told truth. Jesus asked over 400 recorded questions during his ministry and explained many deep spiritual truths in parables. This was all inductive training for the people he was dealing with. The sermon on the mount, however, was deductive teaching. The ancient Greeks loved deductive teaching and lecturing and that’s how sermons found their way into Western Christian church services.

Discovery Bible Study Traditional Bible Study
Participants discover truth Leader explains truth
Small: from 2-10 people Can be much larger
Simple Bible truth Can be theological
Designed to create obedience Not interested in obedience
Has no dominant leader, lots of discussion Leader based, they do most talking
Question based Lecture based
Sticks to the one story/passage Can drift in lots of directions
Can be quickly reproducible Not reproducible

Discovery Bible Studies are unique:

They are perfect for new believers

They teach people to think deeply about a passage

They are ideal for the world’s majority oral learners

They allow the Holy Spirit to speak to people

They facilitate obedience

The retelling deepens the learning experience

They force everyone, including the facilitator, onto the same journey

They can be used with any age

They are perfect for internalising the 9 commands of Jesus

They can be used with functionally illiterate people

They create community

They meet immediate struggles and needs

They can be used with non-believers

They can be used with illiterate people

They create accountability and kingdom growth


Leaders from traditional churches are trained to deliver top-down deductive teaching and training. If that is you then you will need to watch yourself very carefully as you switch over to the new system when working with new believers. However, for new disciples it will come naturally as it is the normal way people interact and take up new ideas, so make it look natural to you too!


Always keep referring your new disciples back to the Bible as your own and their new supreme authority (2 Timothy 3:14-17). If a new disciple comes to you with a question then the first thing you should say is:

Hmm. let’s see what the Bible says about that issue.

DO NOT give the answer even when you know it. Resist that temptation!

The whole idea is for the disciple to draw their authority from scripture not you. That way if you are not there they know where to look for answers. Do a DBS there and then on the spot if you already know the answer to their question, going through the DBS questions so they are forced to think and the Holy Spirit can provide the answer to their heart instead of you.

If you don’t know the answer to their issue or question, then arrange a time to meet do some research at home. Then come back and do the DBS with them, or do it over the phone with the scriptures that have the answer. This DBS process deepens the lesson learned and helps them become fully versed in scripture so they can train others.

Most Western visitors to DMM churches in developing countries are amazed at the depth of Bible knowledge in so-called simple village people. In truth it is the Westerner who is simple!


This is the ideal sequence:

  1. A gospel sower wins someone to Jesus, or begins a DBS with them even before salvation if they are interested.
  2. They start a Discovery Bible Study.
  3. Others join it.
  4. After some time, but not too long, the gospel sower identifies leaders in the new group.
  5. Those leaders are then trained outside the meeting.
  6. The new leader takes over the DBS and the original gospel sower mentors the leader from a distance.

You should lead for a maximum of 4-5 DBS studies, then begin handing over. If a new group has not multiplied within a few months then it will probably not happen.


For non-narrative passages that are theologically weighty, such as Pauls letters, the following passage helps give the new disciple a mental lens through which they should analyse the passages they study. They should look for these four aspects below as they read the passage, while following the normal DBS pattern.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  1. Teaching: Explaining what is right
  2. Rebuking: Explaining what is wrong
  3. Correcting: Becoming right
  4. Training: Staying right

This is a framework that can be used by new believers to analyse most theological passages in the New Testament when doing a DBS.


  1. Ask someone to give you some feedback on whether you are naturally an inductive or deductive trainer. Then take on their advice!
  2. Begin to train yourself in inductive techniques the next time you have to impart some information?
  3. Guard yourself against the temptation to fall back into deductive teaching techniques.