Why lead a Discovery Group?

lead others in experiencing 3 powerful spiritual growth dynamics

Why lead a Discovery Group?

Paul durbin, october 2020

What makes a Discovery Group so special — and why should invest our time in leading others through one? 

Very simply, a Discovery Group enables participants (including the leader) to experience three powerful, spiritual growth dynamics. 

1. Participants will personally discover the teachings of the Bible.

Think about it. A Discovery Group has no curriculum other than the Bible, and no teacher other than the Holy Spirit.

A small group gets together and reads a passage of scripture. Then, someone from the group retells the passage from memory. If this retelling isn’t quite right, the passage is retold until it is right—a process which cements the Bible passage into everyone’s memory.

Once the passage has been accurately read and retold, two basic questions are asked, 

1) “What does this scripture tell me about God and/or His plan?” 

2) “What does this scripture tell me about people?”

Just two basic questions are enough to give the Holy Spirit room to help participants personally discover the teachings of the Bible.

A similar process of discovery can be seen in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian:

Acts 8:26–35 (NIV) 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Did you notice what was present? A couple people willing to engage with scripture, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and a few basic questions. That’s the beauty of a Discovery Bible Study.

Discovery Bible Study Participants will personally discover the teachings of the Bible

Here’s the second spiritual growth dynamic that takes place in a Discovery Group:

2. Participants will be challenged to obey what they learn.

While the first two questions help us make observations about the passage we’ve read, the third question helps us apply it:

3) “If this scripture is truly from God, how will I apply and/or obey it?”

Many Bible studies and curriculums are geared toward increasing our knowledge of a certain Bible topic or theme. Unfortunately, these same studies lack in any specific application.

A Discovery Group is designed to avoid this by intentionally asking one application-specific question—a question that ideally results in an answer that begins with the words, “I will…”

In other words, “If I believe this is truly God's word, the I will (fill-in the blank)...”

This urgency to obey what’s been read can again be seen in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian:

Acts 8:36–38 (NIV) 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 37 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Ideally, this is what time spent in Scripture does: it prompts us to take action. 

Here’s the third spiritual growth dynamic that takes place in a Discovery Group:

3. Participants will be encouraged to share what they’ve learned and experienced with others.

When Philip and the Ethiopian came out of the water, their first response was to share with others.

Acts 8:39–40 (NIV) 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

This example of sharing with others is why the fourth question in a Discovery Group is so important, 

4) “Who needs to hear this scripture, and when will I share it?”

Participants are encouraged to make a plan. With whom — and when, how, and why — will they share the good news that they’ve just discovered?

The next two questions also encourage sharing — if not in words, then at least in action:

5) “What’s a current need in my community?”

6) “In addition to prayer, how can we help meet this need?”

Who knows what kind of creative “love-in-action” kind of ideas can result from such questions?

Why lead a Discovery Group?

We lead a Discovery Group because it enables participants to experience what we hope everyone could experience — the life-changing dynamics of discovering, obeying, and sharing the Good News we find in the pages of the Bible.

However, that only happens in an environment where people actually want to grow in their relationship with God. And that’s why the final question is just as important as the others:

7) “When will we meet again?”

Notice how the Ethiopian “invited Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:31).  

This is what the last question does. It extends the invitation—inviting participants (if they so desire) to experience continued spiritual growth.

Introduction to a Discovery Bible Study