Anna is a disciple-maker serving in the Middle East. She began a Discovery Bible Study with a good friend, who is a Muslim. Little did she know that this friend would invite many others and form a Discovery Group! Read Anna's story below to discover important lessons about Discovery Groups.
Friendship Led to Discovery Bible Study
While studying language in a closed Middle Eastern country, I built a strong friendship with a young woman named Farah who helped me with my studies. Farah is a nominal Muslim and very open to spirituality. I used our study sessions as opportunities to share about Jesus and gave her a Bible. However, I don't think she did much with it.
Eventually, I was forced to move to a neighboring country. Saddened, I told Farah she could come and visit me any time she wanted and she did. During her visit, she fell in love with the area and moved nearby a year later. By this time, I had learned about Discovery Bible Study. One day, I asked Farah if she would like to read stories from the Bible with me. She said yes!
"Can my friend come as well?" Farah added. "She is in a bad place in life—she needs to hear these stories too!"
I began doing weekly DBS's with Farah and her friend. They greatly enjoyed the process, making practical "I will" statements in response to Scripture and sharing the stories with others.
The Importance of Environment for DBS
Later, Farah told me her friend was opening up a restaurant. "Anna, could we meet in my friend's restaurant?" Farah asked, "Why do we read stories in your house? There are so many people who might want to join us!"
Farah was right—the DBS didn't need to be exclusive to my house! Once we arrived at the coffee shop, Farah exhibited great boldness, "Guys, we're here for one reason—we want to read the Bible with you! Wednesday is the day we read the Bible!"
The patrons seemed surprised but open: "The Bible? Okay, sure, maybe we can join."
We stayed at the restaurant longer, but the Bible study didn't take place that day because people started partying and drinking.
We didn't give up. We returned the next day and told them we would have the Bible study during the day when everyone was sober. The guests half-heartedly agreed.
However, one man who worked at the restaurant was enthusiastic. "I really want to join you. I am looking for God, and I want to know what the Bible is about. I asked God to show me the way, and he brought me to this country."
Discovery Groups Provide Self-Correction
The next day, that gentleman showed up right on time along with Farah and her friend. From there, Farah took the lead during the meeting! She confidently asked the questions and encouraged the others to make practical applications in their lives.
Interestingly, as we read Genesis 3, Farah begin to accuse God. "I don't see that God is good in this story! Why didn't He give them a second chance?"
The other two participants, who were also Muslim, began to defend God from the passage: "God is actually good! He just doesn't want us to keep sinning, and He does give us a chance."
I appreciated that the group self-corrected without my interference. They interacted meaningfully in their local language in a way I could never have.
Afterwards, the restaurant employee was brimming with excitement about our DBS. He posted an announcement to his WhatsApp community saying, "Come to my restaurant for free religious classes!"
The restaurant became a strategic place for disciple-making. The customers at this restaurant come to relax and hang out over a cup of tea—very conducive to conversation. I held numerous meaningful conversations with people there, and am planning to visit frequently to start more Discovery Groups!
Anna and Farah's story offers us two key takeaways. First, let the unbeliever decide where to host the Discovery Group. Unbelievers are the gateway into their own communities. Anna originally started the DBS in her house, but Farah wanted to have it at her friend's restaurant. Farah's choice became a strategic location for the DBS and led to a discovery Group!
Second, Discovery Groups self-correct. When Farah questioned God's grace while facilitating the group, the other participants pointed her back to Scripture to affirm God's character. If Anna had done all the correcting, the group would not have organically developed to self-correct.