Choose Your Own Adventure:  DBS and the Rabbit Church

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At three months of age, a female rabbit can give birth to 12 bunnies after only a 32-day gestational period. Afterward, they can easily have 100 bunnies each year for ten years — 1,000 offspring in a lifetime.

November 8 marked six years in Cambodia for us. We have had two baptisms. There are 600,000 of our target group in Cambodia. To make a noticeable impact, disciples must multiply in months, not years.

So we have been asking: What is a simple form of “living as Christ’s Church” that barely literate people could learn in a few months and be ready to launch out and teach others? I will call this a rabbit church. At its heart is Discovery Bible Study (DBS). In my January 2024 article, I recounted how the beauty of DBS hit me like fireworks during a recent Bible study. Let me set the scene.

It is your first time reading the Bible with a friend. You are going to read the Creation story. They have never heard it before — never with these details of how it happened. They are used to lectures. They can recite the same Arabic prayer five times a day as they were taught, with elbows, hands and feet positioned just the right way. Yet they have never dreamed of interacting with a Bible story with a group of their friends, obeying what the Holy Spirit teaches, and applying it to their lives. In fact, they are so out of practice at reading that by the time they sound out one sentence, they forget what it was about. That is where they are. We will leave them there for a minute.

Where you want them to be is in all of Acts 2: filled with the Holy Spirit, with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, repentant, baptized, devoted to the apostle’s teaching (the Word of God), engaged in fellowship, obedient, breaking bread in communion, and prayerful. You want them testifying and exhorting with lives confirmed by signs and wonders. You want them giving to everyone in need, meeting in churches, and going from home to home. You want them praising God with grateful hearts and the Lord adding to their number day-by-day (like rabbits) those who are being saved.

Have the before and after in your head? It’s like trying to make something that is not a rabbit — like an elephant — become a rabbit. How they view everything and how God sees it are at least that different. Discovery Bible Study puts the elements of the early church into your study time so that by the time they know what a church is, they will already know how to run one. Let’s look at this in practice through 15 questions.

“What are you thankful for this week?” This is Acts 2:47. Discovery Bible Study starts with this question. In a room of believers, you could reword it as, “For what do you give God thanks?” Yet this question works even with atheists. It starts the group off in the habit of praising God together.
“What has stressed you out this week?” Every church service has prayer request time.

“What are the needs of the people in your community?” and “How can we help each other with the needs we expressed?” Already, this group is thinking about outreach and personal ministry and thinking of themselves as a team that helps each other.

“What did we talk about last time?” With the Great River People, we are usually met with blank stares the first time. We have to give hints.
“Did you change anything in your life as a result of our last study?”

“Did you share the story with the person you identified and for whom we have all been praying?”

“We identified several needs last week and planned to meet those needs. How did it go?” All these questions are about repentance, obedience, testifying and helping others. Without them, we would only be feeding ourselves in this Bible study. But with these questions, memory, accountability, service and community are being built and practiced.

At the ninth question, you start focusing on the passage: “Let’s see what the Bible teaches us today. Who will read it for us?” Read today’s passage.

“Who will retell the passage in their own words, like telling it to a friend?”

“Do you agree with their retelling? Is there something they added or left out that they shouldn’t have?” As long as the group doesn’t miss a key component of the passage, continue. If they miss something, read the passage again. If someone states something that isn’t in the passage, ask, “Where did you find [what they said] in this passage?” Reread the passage if necessary.

“When we read this passage, what do we learn about God?” “What does this passage teach us about ourselves?”

“If we believe this passage is from God, how must we change?” The question is phrased with “If,” acknowledging that most people have not put faith in the Bible as God’s Word this early.

Finally, “Who will you share this passage with before we meet again?”

Have you ever heard something that went in one ear and out the other? Discovery Bible Study fixes that. Imagine that you read a Bible story and immediately try to tell it to the group in your own words. Then, the group puts their minds together to fill in the details the teller missed. This is followed by a discussion of how the story reveals God’s character and what we can learn from the characters about what to do or not to do. Then, each person names at least one person to whom he or she will tell the story that week and the group ends by praying for each other over the names. Discovery Bible Study builds church planting skills from the beginning. I have 27 Bible stories from Creation to Christ planned with this format. Using these stories, anyone can develop the skills of interacting with a verse, obeying it and sharing it.

Thank you to all who have been faithfully supporting us for six years. Jesus was a single-term missionary, and he turned the world upside down. Pray we will learn from Him. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NIV), Paul prayed that the message of the Lord would spread rapidly. We want to get to the place with the Great River People where we can say with Paul, “There is no place left for us to preach the gospel” (Romans 15:23).

These steps of a Discovery Bible Study are copied from:

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