Discovery Bible Studies

The Discovery Bible Study (DBS) method was developed in crosscultural ministry and is useful for groups of unreached people, non-believers, and believers alike. With a simple setting and simple questions, it's easily reproduced by students on campus and beyond. Key principles of DBS are:

  • Group studies in natural communities (those who already connected as friends or family). Non-believers should be the majority whenever possible.
  • Discovery, not teaching. Facilitators (not "leaders") let the scripture lead the discussion and join in, rather than providing answers.
  • Discipleship to conversion - Jesus taught others and brought them into mission before they fully understood him, and DBS follows the same practice of helping people obey Jesus from the very beginning.
  • Emphasizing obedience and passing it on - it's important to obey God, not just acquire knowledge. Each DBS ends with a concrete response step and a plan to share the lesson.

The Steps of DBS

  1. "What are you thankful for right now? What are you stressed or worried about?"
  2. "How did you do with the response last time? Whom did you tell?"
  3. Read the passage out loud at least twice. Each person should then try to re-tell the passage without looking (others can help). Don't skip this! It's crucial for learning and sharing later.
  4. "What does this passage teach us about God?"
  5. "What does this passage teach us about people?"
  6. Because this is God's Word for us, how should we respond and put it into practice this week? (Aim for concrete statements beginning with "I will...")
  7. "Who needs to hear this story? / With whom will you share the story this week?"

All DBS takes is a group and a facilitator. Here are some common themes you may already be talking about during each semester, and scripture that pertains to them. Use DBS with it and let us know how it goes!

Passages related to common themes

Evangelism: Openness to change

  • Goal: Moving people further along the 5 thresholds as a community; challenging individuals to consider faith more personally
  • Questions to Ask/Prepare:
    • What are the cultural barriers that keep students closed off to faith?
    • What are accessible spiritual risks that non-Christian students could take as a community or individually to grow in this area?
  • Relevant Scriptures:
    • Matthew 19:16-30
    • Luke 7:1-10
    • Luke 10:25-37
    • Luke 12:13-14
    • Luke 19:1-10
    • John 3:1-17
    • John 20:19-31


  • Goal: Learning to embrace change and transition; increased dependance on God
  • Questions to Ask/Prepare:
    • Why is it important to take risks and trust in God?
    • What does risk-taking look like in different cultural or family situations?
  • How are people feeling when approaching change (e.g., is change good)?
  • Relevant Scriptures:
    • Ruth 1
    • Acts 1:1-11
    • Acts 2:22-47
    • Acts 9:1-31
    • Acts 11:1-26


  • Goal: Examine the implications of the resurrection
  • Relevant Scriptures:
    • Matthew 27:11-28:10
    • Mark 15:1-16:8
    • Luke 22:66-24:12
    • John 18:28-20:23

Spiritual Conversations

  • Goal: Encouraging Christians to be better at asking good questions; creating an atmosphere where spiritual conversations are normal
  • Relevant Scriptures:
    • Matthew 19:16-22
    • Matthew 20:20-23
    • Matthew 20:31-33
    • Mark 10:35-38
    • Mark 10:50-52
    • Luke 18:40-42
    • John 1:37-39
    • John 4:26-28
    • John 5:1-9


  • Goal: Introducing a Christian framework for leadership that is accessible to Christians and non-Christians; inviting students into greater ownership of the community
  • Relevant Scripture:
    • Acts 8
    • 1 Peter 2
    • 1 Peter 3:14-16


Learn more about DBS through M28 or International Project