How to run a Discovery Group
As you go, proclaim this message: "The kingdom of heaven has come near." Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matt 10: 7-8
Discovery Groups are small groups of people meeting together to discover the Bible. They are intended for use with non-believers and work best with family or community groups where the participants know each other. It is better to meet in people's homes than a church setting as people will feel more comfortable and able to be themselves.
The aim is to disciple people to be obedient followers of Christ who go on to witness to and disciple others.
The Discovery Bible Studies are all available for Android and iOS using the Discover App or at studies.discoverapp.org if you prefer to use a computer. They have recordings of the scripture passage as well as the text to make them easy to use with people who struggle to read.
You can read more about Discovery Bible Studies and Disciple making movements at discoverybiblestudy.org
Keep it simple
The questions are simple and always the same for two reasons
- Anyone can run a session. The questions are easy to remember so group members can run sessions, and start new groups without the need to rely on trained leaders.
- They allow people to discover the bible for themselves, without any steer towards doctrinal or cultural interpretations. They work for any bit of scripture.
The question "If this is really God's word, what changes would I have to make in my life?" helps to build obedient disciples. Suggest that people make "I will" statements (for example "I will say thank you to my wife more often"). It helps to follow up how people got on with the last session's "I will" statements.
The question "Who am I going to tell?" builds evangelistic disciples. Again it helps to name specific people to tell and follow up how the conversations went.
Christians who start groups are advised to hand over running the group early (by session four) to avoid implying that leadership is a specialist role. Shortly after this (around session six) it is best to stop going altogether to allow the group to flourish. Continue to meet with whoever is running the group after every session to see how things are going.
When running a group try not to answer people's questions, but let the group discover the answer for themselves. Allow scripture to become the authority rather than one person's specialist knowledge.
Asking "Where do you see that in the passage?" is very useful, both to challenge unhelpful conclusions and to reinforce helpful ones.
Aim for growth
When new people wish to join it is far better to start a new group from study one than grow an existing group. If a group member asks if a friend may join ask "Why don't you see if your friend has others who want to study, and you start a new group with them?". People may ask if they can really do this. Remind them how simple the sessions are to run.
Empowering people to do this allows the groups to replicate. Lots of small groups grow faster and work better than one big group.
When groups start groups that start groups we call this a Disciple Making Movement.
Concerns or questions?
For Christians who are used to many Bible studies, some of these principles may seem unusual or perhaps even wrong - but they really do work. Remember that Discovery Groups are aimed at discipling non-believers to faith, not at teaching existing believers. Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to some common questions. We recommend you read Miraculous Movements to find out more. However, if you still have any questions you can ask us.
If you would like to run a group there is a PDF Contact Card to print out which you can use to direct people to the studies.
Date published: 20th December 2013