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Leading a Transferable Bible Study

Maria is from the Philippines, and she came to join our ministry as a volunteer from a local Christian school. I soon discovered that she was a young believer who had never even attended a Bible study. When I suggested that she learn to facilitate a Discovery Bible Study (or DBS) with other students who were seekers, she was terrified. Just a few weeks later, she was facilitating a group study that included a 19-year-old Muslim Moroccan student who wanted to learn about the Bible! She hopes to start doing DBS with a student friend from Indonesia this summer, and is now excited to take the M:28 method home to share with others! How does this happen so quickly?

The M:28 Discovery Bible study is a SIMPLE, reproducible CYCLE of engagement and BIBLE STUDY MODEL to be and to make obedient disciples of Jesus.

Early in my training, I learned the phrase, “Z to A planning” – more simply stated, begin with the end in mind, begin with the END in mind. As disciple makers among international students, I not only want to lead one person to Christ, I want to see that person make disciples among their friends and family both in the US and in their home country. So how do we reach students with that end in mind? By choosing a simple, memorable, reproducible approach every student can do! They can literally ‘stick it in their back pocket’ and take home with them to use again in their cultural & relational context.

Before launching M:28 DBS, you must begin with PRAYER. This means three things: (1) before you begin reaching international students, PRAY – pray for open doors on campus, for open hearts, for opportunity to share what you believe. You MUST pray to launch and begin this kind of work! (2) Become a person of prayer yourself, develop the disciplines of prayer in your own life and (3) mobilize others to pray for you and for disciples to be made among international students.

Before launching an M:28 DBS, you must be a BLESSING among students: This simply means to find ways to meet practical and felt needs of the international students in your area. Maybe they need a ride from the airport, maybe assistance with English, maybe hospitality in your home, or an afternoon of drinking coffee and simple friendship. Maybe they need help with their career direction and interview skills. Be a servant and a learner. Try many things until you find what truly blesses and touches the hearts of your international students.

To BLESS means to be visible. Be known among students as a person who loves and cares for others, and especially, who loves God. You cannot do this in your home or office space or church space alone, go onto campus – be present in their world and in their comfort zones whenever possible.

When we BLESS, we often FIND:

Let me tell you about Susan – I met Susan while I was hosting English conversation groups at our local campus. Many international graduate students were looking for Americans to practice their every-day English with, and Susan and I met in such a group. As we were getting to know each other, laughing and talking about American culture, I mentioned that I enjoyed reading the Bible and sometimes read it with people who want to read it for the first time. Susan and one of her friends expressed their interest, so we started meeting a few days later!

I am very intentional when I spend time serving students. I often look for ways to move conversations from casual topics, to meaningful topics, to spiritual topics. I may do this by sharing a bit of my own story, or asking questions about the students’ life story. I share freely bits and pieces from the Bible and my life with God. I call them breadcrumbs. Sometimes those crumbs are rejected because students are spiritually hungry, and that’s OK! But sometimes, hungry students pick them up – & they want more – and so then I can then ask, “Would you like to read the Bible together with me sometime?”


It is likely that many images and ideas come to your mind when you think of the phrase “Bible study.”
In the past – I started Bible studies by doing these things: I chose a book or topic, selected a highly trained teacher or group leader, prepared curriculum, reserved a room at my local church building, advertised, launched, continued for 8-12 weeks, then we considered it finished.

But starting an M:28 DBS is much different.

Instead of advertising, we begin through relationship, find spiritually interested students and then ask the students if they have any friends who might also like to join us. Natural friendship is wonderful glue.

Instead of selecting a trained teacher, we take turns facilitating the time of study using the M:28 model.

Instead of selecting a topic or book, we use only the Bible.

Instead of preparing a curriculum, we use the same question format every single time, but we change the Scripture each time – working our way through preselected passages that show us the Redemption story.

Instead of reserving a room at church, we aim to meet in the student’s home or on their campus or in a coffee shop, in their space where they feel comfortable inviting their friends.

Instead of meeting according to an exact predetermined schedule, we meet as often as the group desires to meet, sometimes this does transition into a regular weekly time.

Instead of determining when we will end the group, we continue as long as there is interest, and we wait to see if any relationships will form into long-term discipleship relationships with new followers of Jesus, who want to share their faith with others.

Now let me explain the structure of the M:28 Discovery Bible Study or DBS:
There are three parts to a DBS:

(1) CONNECT – Each person shares something they are thankful for and something that caused stress this past week. Each person shares how they applied what they learned last week and the result, and also with whom they shared what they learned.

(2) DISCOVER – The chosen portion of Scripture is read out loud, taking turns, then read again by one person as others listen. Unknown vocabulary is clarified, then someone tries to retell the passage by memory – others help them fill in any gaps. Finally, a series of questions is asked such as: What do you like or find significant about this passage? What did you not like or find hard to understand? What does this passage tell us about God? About people? About the relationship between God and people?

The final third is

(3) RESPOND – These questions are asked: If this passage is true, how does it change the way you see God and people? How does it change how you live? Would you like to do something differently this week as a result of reading this passage? With whom can you share what you have learned today? The group ends by someone closing in prayer.

Now – there are a few rules that should be followed for this to be a true Discovery Bible Study – First, encourage group to share in sentences, not paragraphs, so that no one dominates. Second, focus only on what this passage is saying, and on what this group sees – don’t bring in outside sources during the group. And finally, give people time to respond! Silence is OK!

So why is this study so different?

The Discovery Bible Study method is focused on obedience more than knowledge, it is about transformation in peoples’ lives. A few years ago, after reading Genesis 1 with me, a visiting professor told me that her response of obedience was that she felt the world was too materialistic so she “wouldn’t go shopping this week.” True enough, the next week she returned to report that she had obeyed and not gone shopping. Now we may think this is a strange application to get from Genesis chapter one but listen: this professing atheist then told me, “You know what I learned this week when I didn’t go shopping? I learned that it is good to follow God’s instructions for us.”

The M:28 Discovery Bible study method is about sharing what you learn right away, not waiting to become an expert. One of my student friends named Henry was in a DBS. He would share everything he learned with his Mom over Skype. Later, when he became a follower of Jesus, he led her to Christ! He had pre-discipled her – without realizing it or even yet being a Christian himself! – Then, she led 8 other people to Christ in their hometown in China! …Brothers and sisters, we underestimate what God can do through one changed life.

M:28 Discovery Bible Study holds the DNA for multiplication! I’m currently working with some students, who, if they trust Christ, face great risk when they return home to their Muslim countries. The good news is this – if they follow Jesus but have no church to attend back home, they can start a simple or small house church using this same method. They can invite friends and colleagues to discover what they discovered using the exact same Scripture passages and questions, AND they can also go deeper in their personal study by reading more and more of their Bible this way.

Jesus taught about the mustard seed – they are so small, but they grow so large that the birds of the air can rest in its branches.

Susan went home, became a believer, and now leads their college fellowship in Asia.

Henry’s Mom led eight others to Christ, and a small house church was planted in his hometown.

Even as a young believer, Maria is poised to multiply when she returns home to teach DBS to others in her circles as an influential professional in her field.

And my friends from Morocco? Uzbekistan? Iran? If they trust Christ, do they have the right tools to go home and not fall away when they are separated from their first spiritual homes as they face possible family pressure, isolation, or persecution? We must begin with the end in mind.

Mustard seeds start small but grow big. Multiplication is faster than addition. The M28 Discovery Bible Study tool is something we can use to plant seeds and watch trees grow.
To learn more about the M28 cycle of ministry and Bible study method, to get a list of Scriptures to use, visit www.M28global.org or download the M:28 app by searching for “M28 Global Discipleship” in your app store.

Leading a Transferable Bible Study


Starting a Bible Study can be daunting, logistically challenging, unfocused, and worst of all, un-reproducible. But the M28 Discovery Bible Study offers you a successful and long-term discipleship model. Valerie walks you through not only how this method works, but how it holds the DNA for multiplication.

Starting a Bible Study can be daunting, logistically challenging, unfocused, and worst of all, un-reproducible. But the M28 Discovery Bible Study offers you a successful and long-term discipleship model. Valerie walks you through not only how this method works, but how it holds the DNA for multiplication.

Webinar: "Perseverance, Growth, and Change in ISM Over Four Decades" June 26th at 10:30 Central