A testimony of the power of “only the Word” – using the Bible Discovery Study approach

How will we grow in our Faith?

A Testimony of the Discovery Study Approach  (as told by “Sanjay”)

The main leader in that area, “Abeer,” has consistently reported how the Discovery Study approach is such a great tool for growing people’s faith quickly, specifically and especially for illiterate folks, because each one can easily listen to the story on the speaker and discuss the questions.

Abeer has many generations of disciples “under” him. One of the 5th generation leaders is named “Kanah”,” who is 19 years old. One day, this young man went to G. Village, and was surprised to discover that, of all things, there was a family here who said they were followers of Jesus! Kanah visited with them, the 7 members of the family, including the mom who is 47 years old. Her name is “Rajee”. During their conversation, Rajee said, “Yes, we know about Jesus, but, Brother, we have no idea how we will ever grow in our faith because pastors do not come here.”

Continue reading “A testimony of the power of “only the Word” – using the Bible Discovery Study approach”

FAQ: Does the Discovery approach work in a “top-down” society?

From time to time, someone will ask this question.

“My culture” is a “top-down leader culture” in which the normal way of doing educational and religious activities is that the expert tells everyone what to think.
So, in this culture people want and expect this which makes the inductive Discovery / DBS model not easily accepted. Maybe this won’t work in our culture..?..!

Here is an answer to this question from Dave H.

This is my main response:  EVERY CPM I’ve heard of in our day is in “top-down” cultures (a better term might be “high power distance” cultures—one that’s often used by sociologists for this phenomena):  India, Indonesia, Middle East, African cultures—ALL OF THESE ARE AT LEAST AS HIGH-POWER as “your place”.

And, what’s more, the cultures that ironically are low power distance (America is among the most egalitarian) seem to have a much harder time seeing movement.

How do I explain this?

Well, first of all, let me say that I DO believe that Persons of Peace are real and that movements are happening. But how exactly they can be happening in cultures that would seem to be anti-Discovery due to their educational systems and their cultural norms, I can’t really explain. Except that when the sociologists do studies of High Power cultures, leaders and emerging leaders always say that they “prefer” that cultural value BUT the vast majority of people who are not in leadership, vow that they’d LOVE to change it.

You know it’s also important to note that when the early church spread like wildfire, the form was much more like DBS than like modern-day, pulpit centered, strong unilateral leader type Protestanism. 1 Cor 14:26 is the clearest “example” for that.

So, really your question is not if these movements happen in “top down” cultures today, but why are they happening and how is it they happened in the 1st Century in a hierarchical culture as well?


A CPM is a Leadership Development Movement

A Church-Planting Movement (CPM) is in many ways actually a church leadership multiplication and development movement. The difference between planting churches and seeing sustained movements is usually linked to leadership development. No matter how many churches are planted, unless the cultural insiders become leaders, the churches will remain foreign and either reproduce slowly or reach a plateau when the initial leader(s) become overloaded.

Some key leadership development principles in CPMs:

  • Vision: visionary leadership
  • Prayer: prayer is the foundation for fruitfulness (John 14:13-14)
  • Training: everyone is trained
  • Bible: The training manual is the Bible
  • Obedience: obedience-based (John 14:15)
  • Strategy: the Gospels and Acts provide the main strategy and models for disciple making and church planting
  • Empowerment: people become leaders by leading
  • Biblical: biblical standards for leadership
  • Unbiased: focus on the fruitful (Matthew 13:1-18)
  • Shared: multiple leaders (Acts 13:1)
  • Churches: churches are focused on birthing new churches

See this article for a more thorough examination of this issue.


Western Worldviews – WEIRD people

In 2010, an article titled “The Weirdest People in the World?” exlpained that most psychological research is conducted on a small, unrepresentative subset of human population—W.E.I.R.D people. Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic.

I would suspect most of you reading this are from WEIRD backgrounds. For those of you not from this background I am sure you work with some of us WEIRD people! Thank you for your graciousness when dealing with us.

HonorShame’s blog has a very interesting perspective on how WEIRD people are only a small subset of the global population and yet many of our perspectives on gospel and missions are shaped by this very small minority viewpoint.

Read the full post here and then reflect on how that should affect how you live out the Kingdom with those from other cultures.

Guilt-Innocence Cultures are WEIRD

CPM FAQ: When does a group of seekers (Discovery Group) become a church?

Critical Assessment 7: Planning and Evaluation


  1. Have you as a group of co-laborers heard God’s “EndVision” for your people? Are you working toward that?
  2. Are you thinking comprehensively or only in sequential steps in your approach to ministry and church planting?
  3. In order to encourage ‘indigenous movements’ all the various elements need to be worked on simultaneously. How is your team doing in relation to this? (1 Cor. 12:27-30)


  1. Although all the factors stated above are truly critical for indigenous movements of reproducing churches there is a need to guard against applying a “mechanistic methodology”. How are you avoiding this pitfall?
  2. How are you monitoring what is happening, or not happening, and finding complementary and creative ways under God’s guidance to address the specific situation He has placed you in, in order to overcome stagnation?
  3. Are you being unflinchingly honest in your evaluation of activities, motivations, and results?
  4. Are you giving up good things to see God do great things?


Critical Category 7: Plan and Evaluate

  1. Prayerfully prepare a view of “What God will Do” as an EndVision (Acts 19:10, Romans 15:18-19) that you continually use for prayer, planning and evaluation.
  2. Research – know and continue to learn about the population group you are reaching.
  3. Be intentional in following and evaluating your progress in the critical elements toward movements.
  4. Be very honest in evaluating both strengths and weaknesses and make necessary changes.Keep scripture as your guide and continually look for ways your assumptions and preconceptions are negatively affecting you.
  5. Be accountable to God and each other.

Creation to Christ – Shame & Honor Theme

Here is one example of a Creation to Christ sequence designed for those from a Shame – Honor society. Again, you will need to pray and work to adapt the process to the situation and worldview of those you serve.

You can download the document here.

Discovery Group Series with Shame/Honor Themes

  1.  Naked and Unashamed (Shame/Cover-Ups)                Genesis 2:18-3:11
  2. Joseph in Potiphar’s House (Honor: Fear of God)              Genesis 39:1-23
  3. Moses/Miriam/Aaron       (Sibling Honor/Shame)  Numbers 12:1-15
  4. Korah’s Rebellion   (Usurping Honor)                  Numbers 16:1-50
  5. Deborah/Barak/Jael    (Honor for Bold Obedience)           Judges 4:1-24
  6. Hannah     (From Dishonor to Honor)              I Samuel 1:1-28
  7. Ahab/Jehoshaphat/Micaiah (Dishonor: Alignments) 2 Chronicles 18:1-34
  8. Mary and Joseph      (Lineage: Cultural Shame/Honor)         Matthew 1:1-25
  9. Jesus and Fasting   (Ceremonial Honor/Dishonor)          Matthew 6:16-24
  10. Elisabeth and Zacharias ( From Dishonor to Honor)             Luke 1:5-25
  11. The Prodigal Son (Honor by Grace for the Dishonorable)    Luke 15:11-32
  12. Rich Man and Lazarus (Status and Honor)                       Luke 16:19-31
  13. Honor of Jesus                   (God’s Honor)                              John 1: 1-18
  14. Incarnation of Christ       (From Dishonor to Honor)            Philippians 2:4-11
  15. Woman at the Well      (Cultural Dishonor/Honor)            John 4:4-42
  16. Jesus Washes Disciples’ Feet   (Countercultural Honor)       John 13:1-17
  17. Judas (Shame that Leads to Death)      Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:1-10
  18. Jesus on the Cross      (Countercultural Honor)                Matthew 27:27-54
  19. Jesus’ Resurrection            (Dishonor/Honor)                        Matthew 28:1-20

For those from an honor/shame-oriented culture, this story list can be used with the usual DBS questions.

However, you might want to add one extra question (besides the usual DBS questions) for these studies:

  1. What does this teach us about God?
  2. What does this teach us about ourselves / people?

2a.       Who is honored or put to shame in this story? Why?

  1. What do you need to apply / obey?   (“I will…”)
  2. Is there some way we could apply this as a group? (“We will…”)
  3. Who are you going to tell? (“I will…”)


The Spirit of God is launching Church-Planting Movements (CPMs) around the world, just as he has done at various times in history. With Acts-like DNA disciples, churches and leaders are multiplying every few months. In the glorious mystery of God causing the growth, we find that he calls us to join him in the work.

As these modern movements have emerged, the Spirit is using a variety of “models” to start CPMs. Perhaps the majority of fruitful CPM models are adaptations of two major approaches: Training for Trainers (“T4T” – developed by Ying Kai) and Disciple-Making Movements (“DMM” – sometimes called the Discovery Bible Study model – “DBS” – taught widely by David Watson). There are other approaches God is using to start CPMs, but these two major models seem to be producing the majority of CPM results in the world.

We are often asked if we prefer the “T4T” model or the “DMM (DBS)” model. Do we teach more a “Ying Kai” model or “David Watson” model? Is a particular training more of a “Steve Smith” or “Stan Parks” approach?

To which we would all reply:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Cor. 3:5-7 ESV)

See this two part article for more examination of this issue.



Critical Assessment 6: Leaders

  1. In what ways are you modeling the biblical principle of servant leadership among the people you are working? (Lk. 22:24-27)
  2. Do you refrain from establishing hierarchic structures requiring bureaucratic decision-making, which will not permit the dynamism of indigenous movements of reproducing churches?
  3. Are you cautious about offering financial assistance by developing local lay leadership and emphasizing the responsibility of local churches regarding propagating the Gospel as well as governing and funding their own affairs?
  4. Are they being warned about outsiders who would seek to force or buy control over them at the expense of biblical patterns?
  5. Are outsiders refraining from imposing requirements for church leaders that exceed those stipulated by the New Testament? (1 Tim. 3)
  6. Are outsiders assuming leadership in groups of new believers, or are are they mentoring and ‘shadow pastoring’ insiders to do so? (2 Tim. 2:2)
  7. Are an expanding number of potential leaders being mentored rather than focusing only on the first one who shows interest? (2 Tim. 4:19-21)
  8. Is there a development of unpaid or bi-vocational lay leaders and elders, rather than establishing a paid clergy? (Tit. 1:5)
  9. Are local trainings happening in an ongoing fashion to equip emerging leaders and evangelists to do a better job without having to look for theological education elsewhere?