Discovery Bible Studies
1 Aug 2012
Before arriving in-country about seven years ago, we really didn’t know much about church planting or, in fact, what Church Planting Movements were all about. Our team knew we wanted to see churches planted, but how we were going to go about it? What were some of the practical steps? We were definitely very green. Keen as mustard, but nevertheless naïve.
Even in the early days of our team’s formation, we were blessed to be surrounded by a number of great leaders and godly practitioners with loads of experience in our part of the world. Very quickly, we were introduced to some of the amazing things that God has been doing around the globe in recent years, bringing millions of people to himself through exploding movements of worshippers in places like India and Africa. No doubt we wanted to get on board and try to understand more about how God has been moving in these places!
After three or four years of learning, training, trial and error, praying and sharing we had seen God draw some people to himself. But it was common for these individuals to quickly experience persecution, get kicked out of their village, lose their inheritance and become alienated from their families. We were ourselves struggling to disciple these new believers well. Everything felt disjointed. We became aware that something was missing in what we were seeking to achieve. With a large team made up of both national believers and expats, we were trying to get some momentum, a common language and sustainable approach to this ‘church planting’ thing.
Changing our Approach… to bring about change
Early last year, I was privileged to attend a ‘Discovery Bible Study’ approach Church Planting Movement training. This training was led by Pioneers leaders and partners from other agencies. The week after I attended that training, my team mates and national colleagues were able to attend a very similar training on our island. It was so clear to us that we needed to utilise this approach on our island. This way of introducing people to the Bible seemed to have answers for some of the frustrations we had experienced and many of the questions we had been asking. Praise God, within weeks of trying this new approach, we were seeing groups of Hindus gathering together to study biblical truth for themselves! We are in no doubt that this model is not a golden bullet and that God moves as he pleases in variety of ways. But for our team, wanting to serve him as best we could in all aspects of our lives, this was a turning point in our whole approach to life and ministry together.
The ‘Discovery Bible Study’ approach is really all about finding people who are spiritually thirsty, gathering them together with their family or friends, and teaching them how to discover truth directly from the Bible. It’s all about making disciples of Jesus and not looking for converts before we disciple. Each week, groups of Hindus gather together, open the Bible and ask simple questions of the passage like… What do we learn about God? What do we learn about man? Is there an example I need to follow? Is there a command I need to obey? And then, what will I do this week to respond in obedience to this passage? The approach starts with the creation story and, chronologically, over the weeks groups work their way through the Old Testament and then to Jesus and his claims. As the weeks go by, slowly the truth begins to permeate hearts, the Spirit stirs understanding and, as we allow the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit to teach, we are seeing allegiance to many gods shift to an allegiance to the only One True God! This entire process is saturated in prayer. It is truly God alone.
God is doing amazing things on our island! As we see numbers of groups meeting together in different villages each week to discover truth, our hope is to see the Spirit moving many to respond in baptism and obedience to Jesus. We continue to pray as small churches help many other Hindus discover the truth and light found in the Holy Book of ISHWW (Supreme Creator God). Praise God for new families and groups who are taking this bold step! (Matt 28:18-20)
AS, a Pioneers worker