Newsletter / Issue 33, June 2017

Discovery Groups

7 Questions that Become 9

By Ben Deaver

Discovery Groups

First, what are you thankful for? (What comes to mind?)

Second, what are you struggling with? (What comes to mind?) And how can we help?

Imagine gathering with 2-4 friends each week and starting your time together with these two questions. These two questions alone could fill up well over an hour among friends.   

For years at New Hope our LIFE Groups have been (and continue to be) core to what we do and who we are. LIFE Groups are mid-sized groups of 15-30 people that are open to new visitors each week all focused on LIFE—Learning Biblical Truth, Intercession (Prayer), Fellowship, and Extending Life to Others. LIFE Groups are awesome and we will keep doing these! However, they are extremely difficult to reproduce. I’ve noticed that often people will come to Manhattan, have a great experience in a New Hope LIFE Group, then move somewhere else in their next season of life desiring  to take what they’ve learned about how to do community with them to the next place. However, it’s very difficult for someone to start their own LIFE Group at the next church they end up at. This is one of the reasons I’d like to share with you a tool that was passed along to me that could be taken anywhere and everywhere by anyone and everyone.

I want to introduce Discovery Groups to you. Discovery Groups are designed to have 3-5 people in them all of the same gender. These 3-5 people could all be fellow believers, could come from your LIFE Group, be a mix of folks from different LIFE Groups, could include seekers, nonbelievers, neighbors, coworkers, so on and so forth. The flexibility of Discovery Groups are one of the reasons they’re so reproducible. They are cross-cultural. In fact, the first place I heard about Discovery Groups was from someone who said these groups are being used to take the Gospel deep into the heart of the Middle East!

Each person in a Discovery Group gets 15 minutes of total talk time so you’ll want to carve out a good chunk of at least 1.5 hours weekly. You’ll also want to pick a book of the Bible to study together. I’d recommend not picking a long book, especially to begin with. One of Peter or Paul’s letters could be great! You don’t have to do prior personal Bible study to be a part of a Discovery Group. The Discovery Group itself is the Bible study. Although of course any study of the Scriptures you put in on your own time is still beneficial.

Here’s how Discovery Group go. Find a time when your 3-5 people can meet. Sit down over coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or whatever you fancy). Then someone leans in and ask the first question. “So guys, what are you thankful for?” Then move on to the next question.

First Discovery Group Meeting:

Personal Sharing:

  1. What are you thankful for?
  2. What are you struggling with? And how can we help?

Read the passage you’re studying together and then ask:

  1. What do we learn about God, and Jesus specifically?
  2. What do we learn about man?
  3. What does this passage seem to be communicating?

Application:

  1. In light of what we’ve learned, what will you do about it?
  2. Who will you tell?

The next week you meet start with reviewing your answers to questions 6 and 7 from last week. Then go back to the top. Your 7 questions become 9 questions. This provides built in accountability (which is usually much needed in small groups). Your nine questions would then be as follows.

All Subsequent Discovery Group Meetings:

Accountability:

  1. How did you do with your application step from last week?
  2. Who did you tell?

Personal Sharing:

  1. What are you thankful for?
  2. What are you struggling with? And how can we help?

Read the passage you’re studying together and then ask:

  1. What do we learn about God, and Jesus specifically?
  2. What do we learn about man?
  3. What does this passage seem to be communicating?

Application:

  1. In light of what we’ve learned, what will you do about it?
  2. Who will you tell?

Reasons Discovery Groups might be awesome for our community:

  • Scheduling is much easier for 3-5 people than for a larger small group (like a LIFE Group).
  • 3-5 people along with these specific questions bring needed accountability that’s difficult to come by in a one-on-one interaction.
  • Discovery Groups can be taken anywhere in the world easily, without years of training. We can welcome people into our community, equip them with this tool, and then send them into every neighborhood in our town, town in our state, state in our country, and country in our world!
  • Discovery Groups are conducive for anyone and everyone. You could do a group with coworkers, in neighborhoods, with friends, or even with your immediate family.
  • These questions cut to the heart quickly, stays focus on the Scriptures, and push people to share with others.
  • Discovery Groups help cultivate a culture of gratitude which is very difficult to come.
  • Leadership requires very little prep or training. Just be willing to ask the questions and pay attention to the time!

Big Picture Vision for Discovery Groups:

  1. Think groups discipleship/multiplication, not just individual discipleship/multiplication. 5 People max. Once you reach 6, multiply into two groups. Who knows what God might do through your initial Discovery Group?
  2. Think 3rd and 4th generation. A group planting a group planting a group planting a group. This could be a lot of fun and get out of control quick (but not out of the Spirit’s control). How amazing would it be if there were Discovery Groups all around the world that could trace their roots back to New Hopers in Manhattan, KS?
  3. Pray for a person of peace, someone who receives you and your words and is connected to others. Your person of peace doesn’t even have to have a relationship with Jesus…yet.

I’ve been thrilled to hear about some Discovery Groups popping up already as I’ve briefly introduced this idea to some people. In fact, Maris and I have begun to try doing a Discovery Group with our kids, Kate and Maddox (Discovery Groups can be co-ed within families, BTW). We’ve not gotten past question two yet with them but those first two questions have been awesome to talk about as a family.

Let me know how I can help you start a Discovery Group. And let me know if you start one and how it goes.  A condensed version of this article is available in the PDF attachment below for your convenience.  Who knows what God might do through a few good questions and His Word?

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