Discovery Bible Study: A Challenge for Canadian Ministry Leaders

Melissa Berry /Monday, September 18, 2023


“She has a map! That's just like in the back of your Bible, the missionary journeys of Paul”, Craig Kraft, OC’s Executive Director, excitedly shared about an OC missionary and her recent travels through southeast Asia.

In the first two parts of this blog series, we shared Teresa’s story of introduction to Discovery Bible Study (Part 1) as well as stories of Teresa’s missionary journey through Asia (Part 2). If you haven’t yet read those, we’d encourage you to start there.

In this final installment, we asked Teresa to share wisdom for Canadian ministry leaders and also to address a common concern with the Discovery Bible Study method.

For Canadian Ministry Leaders

Much of Teresa’s focus on disciple-making movements is focused in Asia, but as a part of Outreach Canada’s DMM (Disciple Making Movement) team here in Canada - otherwise known as “Becoming Disciples Who Multiply”- she is also actively involved in disciple-making movements focused right here in Canada.

A Challenge

We were curious about Teresa’s thoughts on what the church in Canada could learn from global believers, our brothers and sisters from Asia.

“Leaders need to open their eyes to see what God is doing globally, because we do not stand alone, we are the body of Christ … The focus of disciple making? Right from the beginning, the focus is relationship, not programs or structures. That is a call of disciple making. Disciples are given the word of God and disciples are also given the mission … to make disciples in love.”

And then she went on, with words of wisdom and challenge for Canadian ministry leaders.

“We, as leaders, or pastors, or missionaries, or organizations, or ministry leaders, or whatever position of leadership we are in, need to examine whether we are serving by tradition or by the biblical truth, the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are blessed to be disciples. And disciples are to replicate ourselves.”

Teresa began to share about Jesus as the Great Shepherd, reflecting on the 23rd Psalm, and the story of Jesus challenging Peter to feed the lambs. “We might think that [feed the lambs] means that we stuff knowledge in their head. No. What does the shepherd do? Leadership. Let them lie on green pastures beside quiet waters. Provide an environment. Empower them to feed. This is what we should be doing. But we are force-feeding instead of providing that environment. Instead of empowering them to know God and serve God directly, we take the place of the shepherd [and bring people to] dependency on us, not on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“How do we empower and point [others] to a healthy, direct relationship with the Lord – to obey him and the Great Commission? I think this is something we have to re-examine. Ultimately, we don’t answer to our congregation. We answer to our Lord. And we all have to answer to Him. My heart is for myself and for all who are called to ministry to be able to stand in front of the Lord and hear him say ‘good and faithful servants.’”

Discovery Bible Study (and a common concern)

In the Discovery Bible Study method, there is no teacher, rather, the Holy Spirit, together with the Scriptures fills the ‘teacher role’. A ‘facilitator’ (not a teacher) guides the group through a simple 7-step process of reading and engaging with Scripture, and listening for God’s voice. The focus in the group is not just knowledge, but on listening to God’s voice through the Scriptures, practical obedience (with accountability) and sharing with others.

If you’d like to learn more about the DBS method, you can read this practical article, “How the Church can Make Disciples in 2023” or sign-up for a “DBS Taster Group”.

One of the common concerns with the Discovery Bible Study method, is the concern of how to protect against heresy. If people are studying the Bible without a specified teacher, how do we protect against misunderstanding or even heresy?

In response, Teresa challenges us that we must consider two things: the biblical model of disciple making & the fruit of those who engage with DBS.

“Let us go back to the biblical time. What do the disciples have? They have an encounter with the Lord. They have His word. They received the Holy Spirit and were empowered by the Holy Spirit. And the Lord actually said to them that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit and they were to witness for him, from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. That's the way the Lord designed discipleship. We are commanded, we are designed to serve him and to make disciples by faith.”

Teresa also points to the fruit of DBS. “We can examine the fruits. People who are doing DBS, they focus on the content, and they respond with actions of obedience. And I observe that the disciples who are doing DBS, their lives change…they change their habits…broken families reconcile, they become on fire for the ministry and reaching out to their neighbors…they are on fire for the word of God. They are on fire to practice obedience.”  

As we wrapped up our time with Teresa, we asked her how her experiences over the last few years, and her involvement with this movement has impacted her personally.

“I’m 100% committed, because I realize more and more that this is God’s time and season for me. I see myself being placed in a position where I can help to empower and coach leaders … My walk with the Lord is more intimate because I’m increasingly more and more dependent on him. I cannot do it myself.

She also talks about the return of Jesus, and says, “Time is short. My time is short. I want to be very fruitful. I want to focus. I want to connect and collaborate with leaders who share the same vision and go focus on accelerating the movement. Not only in Asia, but in whatever region the Lord opens for me. I’m open and available.”

May that be our stance as well. May we be open and available to wherever God opens a door, actively and intentionally making disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples.  

Prayer & Support

Teresa is currently raising funding for the project in Asia, called “The Catalyzing and Training Initiative.” The project has a goal of 24,000 US dollars. We would invite you to support this initiative by donating here: Donate to "The Catalyzing and Training Initiative"

We also invite you to pray for Teresa and the movement in Asia. Specifically, please pray for the leadership teams, national leaders, and regional leaders in a few different countries throughout Asia. Pray for good collaboration, continued focus, and that the movement would continue and even accelerate. Pray for those leading DBS groups - for ownership, for the discipline to practice obedience, and for continued breakthrough in collaboration amongst leaders.

If you’d like to learn more about the DBS method, you can read this practical article, “How the Church can Make Disciples in 2023” or sign-up for a “DBS Taster Group”.

Melissa Berry is the Digital Content Coordinator at Outreach Canada. Her favourite part of her role is getting to share stories - the stories of OC people, & the stories of how God is working! If she had a free afternoon, you'd probably find Melissa on an adventure with her husband & two children (with a chai tea in hand, of course).



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