Active Learning: Why Discovery Bible Studies Are so Effective at Making Real Disciples


David Sousa, in his research on how the brain learns, observes that we learn best when we're actively involved in the learning process: using our curiosity to discover, sharing what we've discovered with others, and immediately applying what we've learned.


Jesus says that a disciple follows the same process. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you” (John 8:31, The Message).

A disciple is someone who listens to Jesus and does what he says. As disciple-makers we can facilitate a process where curious people can hear Jesus for themselves, do what he's saying, and experience the freedom he promises. That process is called a Discovery Bible Study.

So how do I facilitate a Discovery Bible Study?

Discovery groups are led by a facilitator, not a teacher. Your role as a facilitator is to guide your group through a process where the participants can discover for themselves what the Holy Spirit is saying through the scriptures and how to immediately apply it to their lives. A good facilitator listens more than they talk and knows how to guide a conversation by using relevant questions.

What questions do I ask?

Discovery Bible Studies are oriented around three simple questions:

  • What does this passage say about God?

  • What does it say about people?

  • What does this passage say I must do? Or, how can I behave like Jesus?

As the conversation unfolds you'll find that some people love to talk and others tend to remain quiet. It's your role as the facilitator to limit the talkers and encourage the quiet ones to share!

You'll also find that some people tend to get off topic rather easily. Your goal is to keep the conversation oriented on the passage at hand. You can do that by gently leading the conversation back to the scriptures with a question like, "Where did you see that in this passage?" and with the follow-up question, "Would you mind if we keep this conversation to the passage we're looking at?"

This is the core of a Discovery Bible Study. It's a very effective disciple-making process!

Next Steps

  1. Get ready to facilitate a Discovery Bible Study with CRM’s DBS Toolbox. You can request it here.

  2. We’ve found that having a mentor to guide you in this disciple-making process makes a big difference. Contact Novo and ask to be put in touch with a movement mentor from the Advance Team to journey with you.


Alastair Rundle and his wife, Catherine, live in Redding, California, with their two children. They are working to bridge strategic discipleship with the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to see a movement of God sustained and cities transformed.