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Discovery Group Format 2.0

2-0-launchpageA new way of doing small groups is sweeping around the world. Instead of focusing on learning and talking about the Bible—as we have so often done in the past—the Discovery Group format focuses on listening to and immediately obeying the Bible. The change is subtle but powerful and brings wonderful results. The simple Discovery format is accelerating evangelism, leadership multiplication, and church planting across the globe.

I have been experimenting with the Discovery Group methods for most of a year and want to let you know of a few tweaks I have made. You might call it Discovery Group 2.0. Let me explain…

The Standard Format

The standard format that I was taught goes like this:

Opening Questions

  • What are you thankful for this week? (This question helps teach seekers or those new to Christ how to worship and pray.)
  • What challenges are you facing? Is there some way our group can help? (This guides people into caring community.)

Accountability Questions

  • With whom did you share last week’s learnings?
  • How did it go with your “I will’s”? (An “I will” is a person’s statement of how they will obey a Bible passage.)

Bible Discovery Questions

  • What does it say? (Read the passage several times, perhaps in different translations.)
  • How would I say that? (Each person tries to retell the passage or Bible story in their own words.)
  • What must I do to obey what I have learned? “I will…” (Each person crafts a statement or two to tell how they will obey the passage this week.)

Optional Questions to Use if You Have Time

  • What does the passage say about humanity?
  • What does it say about God?

Outreach Question

  • With whom will you share what you learned this week?

Tweaks

There are three adjustments that I have made to this.

First, the second question has been problematic. It’s a great question. In fact, it is too good of a question! When I have asked: “What challenges are you facing?” near the beginning of a meeting, people’s answers and our praying for them or responding to them took way too long and could easily consume the rest of the meeting. I tried to alter this by changing the question from plural to singular: “What is a challenge you are facing?” But it still took too long if it was asked near the onset of a meeting. So I have moved the question to the end of the meeting. This allows us to close the meeting with a time of community building, encouragement and prayer. But people keep it short because we’ve already been together for a while and they don’t want the meeting to go long.

Next, the question “What must I do to obey what I have learned?” is also an excellent question. But I have found that a better way to ask this is, “What do I sense God inviting me to do in response to this passage?” This helps shift the focus from self-effort to listening to and responding to God.

Finally, although other people using the Discovery Group format have told me that they like the optional questions: “What does the passage say about humanity?”, and “What does it say about God?” I have never had time for these questions. In all the meetings I have led over the past year there has been more than enough discussion generated by the three key questions: “What does the passage say?”, “How would I say it?”, and “What do I sense God inviting me to do in response to this passage?” As people respond to these questions and discuss the meaning of the passage for their own lives, I’ve never had time or need for the optional questions, so they have dropped from my pattern, making for a simpler and more focused format.

Discovery Group 2.0

So with the three new tweaks, my 2.0 format goes like this:

Opening Question

  • What are you thankful for this week?

Accountability Questions

  • With whom did you share last week’s learnings?
  • How did it go with your “I will’s”?

Bible Discovery Questions

  • What does it say?
  • How would I say that?
  • How do I feel invited to respond? “I will…”

Closing Questions

  • With whom will you share what you learned this week?
  • What is a challenge you are facing? Is there some way our group can help?

This is what I am finding works in my setting. You might modify things in a different direction. I love using the Discovery Group format because it keeps me and my groups focused on listening to and responding in obedience to God. What questions do you have about it? What are you finding works best for you?

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5 Responses to Discovery Group Format 2.0

  1. David June 5, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    I like it! Thanks Jim, I appreciate all you’re doing for the Kingdom!

  2. Derek Olson June 6, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

    Great post!! Thanx Jim, cannot wait to use this discovery group format!

  3. Danny July 21, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    Saludos Jim abra algún tipo de recursos para grupos pequeños en español?

  4. Roberto Gutierrez August 3, 2016 at 5:35 am #

    Great format, this one we are using for our cells group.

  5. Michelle November 2, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    I am going to share this with my co-leaders!

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