What is disciple4?


Disciple4 – Disciple4.com; info@disciple4.com

What is Disciple4?

Disciple4 is a process to equip and multiply Christians to be disciples and disciplemakers.

First meeting

  1. Explain the Discple4 concept
  2. Get to know one another
  3. What is a Discovery Bible Study (DBS)
  4. Guidelines for a DBS and a Three-Thirds meeting
  5. I will statements
  6. The layout of a week
  7. Group Agreement/Covenant
  8. 25 Themes

Six clear goals

  1. Personal spiritual growth.
  2. Disciple4 groups will serve as a safe place for people to grow spiritually in their relationships with God and one another.
  3. Disciple4 groups can be used to equip young converts to be disciples and disciplemakers.
  4. Grow as a disciple.
  5. Equipping disciples to multiply and be disciplemakers (disciples that can and will make disciples).
  6. The salvation of the unsaved.

Disciple4 Groups

The process takes place in groups of four. Disciple-making and spiritual growth are always a journey that you do with others! Never do this on your own. Many people try to do it on their own. But you will find less than 5% of the value of the journey by doing it alone versus doing it with others in a small group. Do not think you will be an exception to the rule. An optimal group has four people. In such a group, healthy discipling takes place. Research has shown and we therefore strongly advise that you don’t do it in groups of less than three or more than five.

Agreement or covenant

It is strongly recommended that the group sign an Agreement/Covenant where everyone commits to a few definite rules. The following is suggested as the content of such an Agreement. The group leader can print this out and have everyone sign it.

  1. I will attend all meetings and be on time.
  2. I will do my assignments and “I will statement” every week.
  3. I will keep personal information confidential and be someone that can be trusted, especially with information shared in our group.
  4. I allow others to hold me accountable while we are in this course and be available to support the other people in my group.
  5. After eight weeks and 16 weeks, there will be a re-commitment.
  6. I will seriously consider and pray about starting my own group after finishing this time of growth and equipping myself to be a disciple and disciple-maker. I understand I am not forced to do it, but I will seriously pray about it.

Signed……………………… Date………………

25 Biblical Studies: A series of 25 studies on essential Christian foundations will help the groups to grow and be equipped as disciples and disciplemakers. The groups will meet once a week. Because of the reality of holidays, illness, unforeseen interruptions, etc., this process usually takes 9-10 months.

One Foundational study per week

  1. Groups meet once a week to study the Bible – every week, there will be a focus on one of the 25 Foundational studies. A typical meeting will be about 90 minutes.
  2. For the other six days of the week, there will be short devotional studies of 10-15 minutes (on your own) to broaden your understanding of the week’s subject.
  3. Every group will choose a specific day of the week to meet in person or a Zoom-type meeting.

25 Foundational Biblical studies to be completed within one year

  1. Assurance of salvation
  2. Confession of sin
  3. Lordship of Christ
  4. The Word
  5. Prayer
  6. My Story and Jesus’s Story
  7. The Holy Spirit
  8. Jesus said: Follow Me
  9. The Great Commission
  10. The Cost of Discipleship
  11. Baptism
  12. Dying to self and total surrender
  13. Understanding the meaning of life, purpose and destiny
  14. Forgiveness
  15. Fatherhood and dealing with father issues
  16. Disciplines of spiritual growth
  17. 7 Sins that will destroy you
  18. 7 Heart attitudes that need to be conquered
  19. Trust God for your physical needs, and Mammon
  20. Care for the poor and needy – the Mercy ministry of the church
  21. Marriage, sexuality and purity
  22. The Trinity and God the Father
  23. Who is Jesus?
  24. Grace and redemption
  25. Evil and spiritual warfare
  26. Disciplemakers and multiplication

Weekly practices

As part of the process of growing as a disciple and disciplemaker, it is suggested that groups focus on a few definite practices to become part of their lives. These must not be seen as “laws” but life practices that will help you to grow as a disciple and disciplemaker.

  1. Daily prayer of 10-20 minutes as part of the Disciple4 process.
  2. Make a prayer calendar with the names of at least 30 unsaved people and pray every day for at least one of them.
  3. Praying for opportunities to have at least one gospel conversation per week.
  4. Each person prays for at least two converts during this year.
  5. Share with one person every week what you are doing.
  6. Do your I will statement for the week.
  7. Pray for sick people whenever an opportunity arises.
  8. Pray very dedicatedly for three more people you can invite to form a new Disciple4 group after your group finishes the 25 weeks.

The benefits of working in groups

Groups provide a system where we can study the Word of God with several other people – such groups provide an accountability and support system that protects the group against strange doctrines and will speculations. It will help to bring the Bible back as the source of truth and final authority and learn about the person and character of God. By reading the Bible, people will understand what it says about the critical issues of life.

  • There is much information in churches and among Christians, but not nearly enough obedience. In groups, this can be addressed in a very meaningful way. One of the main functions of Disciple4 groups is to move from information-based Bible Study and discussion to obedience-based Bible Study and discussion.
  • Groups create room for the Holy Spirit to work and a place where we can together discover what the Word of God wants to teach us. Let us remember that the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and will be the best guide and counsellor to help us to understand the Book he wrote.
  • Working in groups through a pre-determined set of subjects gives groups direction and purpose.
  • Disciple4 groups are ideal for equipping disciples to become disciplemakers.
  • It will help you work towards a life of being a disciple and equip you to be a disciplemaker.

Discovery Bible Studies – Definition and Purpose of a Discovery Bible Study (DBS)

A DBS (Discovery Bible Study) can be described as:

  • A simple reading of the Bible – a story, a specific passage, or a subject.
  • Discussing a specific passage or story from the Bible and discovering for yourself what it says;
  • What is this passage saying to me, and how will I obey what the Spirit of God asks me to do?

As Christians, when we go out into the world, there must be a clear and definite acceptance of the authority and truth of the Bible. This must be foundational to our daily reading, Bible study, and obeying the Bible. The Bible contains our message. It tells real-life stories about our message. The Bible tells us about Jesus, and He is our message.

The purpose of reading the Bible is, in the first place, to learn more about the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We must ask ourselves daily: How can I know God better, grow in intimacy with God, live in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit, have victory over sin, and how can I more fully obey God? We need to subject ourselves to the Lordship of Christ. The information level of most Christians is far beyond their level of obedience. Information, knowledge and obedience must be on the same level. By reading our Bibles, we will know God’s commands, promises, what he wants us to do, and how to live.

It is of great importance to stress the following principle: DBS meetings are not “in-depth” Bible study meetings and theological discussions, word studies, trying to uncover all the difficulties in a passage, etc. Many people want “deeper” knowledge and teaching. Too many people who want to do in-depth Bible Study and seek more information are weak in obedience. A DBS focuses on discovering fundamental Biblical truths and obeying God’s words in those passages. Without exception, Christians start to see things in the Bible that they have never seen before, and suddenly their lives change when they obey what they discover. Many people suddenly have “a new Bible.”

In a DBS we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us. When you study a passage or chapter in the Bible, first ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You can always afterwards consult commentaries, dictionaries and other material that can help give added perspective.

There are several ways that you can study the Bible. All of them need to boil down to the following:

  1. Revelation and discovery: Read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the things from the specific passage he wants you to understand. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible. He will reveal to you the things that you need to know.
  2. Personal application and obedience: Ask the Holy Spirit how you must apply these things in your life and what has to change – what you must do or stop doing. In which areas of your life do you need to grow? How can you, in deeper intimacy with Jesus from what you have discovered from this passage, grow in fuller submission to the Lordship of Christ? These questions apply to you personally.
  3. External application and obedience: Pray about this passage and ask the Lord to show you how to obey what you have discovered. Is there something specific that the Spirit of the Lord prompts you to do? How do you apply it in your daily walk? How are you going to apply what you have discovered practically?

When you journal daily, take notes of what God is saying to you daily through his Word and obey or practically apply what you have discovered. You will grow spiritually. You will grow in intimacy with Jesus. You will be salt and light in the world. You will make a practical difference in the world.

I will statements

The “I will Statement” platform was created within the DBS for God to speak into our lives. The DBS Scripture should help us collect more information to expand our knowledge and drive us to obedience to advance God’s Kingdom.

When we study a passage from the Bible, we must always ask: What is the Holy Spirit saying to me, and what is he asking me to do? An I will statement means: During the coming week, I will do the following: Each person in the group formulates their own I will statement as they feel God directs them. I will statements flow from the specific Bible passage the group is discussing. The I will statements are then shared with the group. During the next meeting, every person shares what happened with their I will statements.

A good and strong “I will Statement” is measurable and relevant to be executed within the next couple of days.

A: Personal I will statements

When you study the Bible, the Holy Spirit will speak to you personally. “What needs to change in my life in light of what I discovered from the Word?” Usually, we quite easily understand what needs to change, but we tend to generalise our response. “I know I need to forgive. It is important. I am going to work on it.” By putting it in such general terms, the result will be that you will not do anything about it. But if you say: “God is talking to me about forgiveness. There are two people I need to forgive, and I need to go to them and tell them that I am bitter and don’t want to forgive them for what they did to me.” Or: “I know I need to ask X to forgive me for my behaviour that hurt him. I will go to him this week and ask forgiveness.”

For instance, you may not treat poor people with respect. Something needs to change in your heart first. When that happens, the behaviour will follow. Ask, for instance, someone to send you a text message or Whatsapp message once a week to ask how you are doing with this aspect of your life.

If we do not make our commitment as specific and measurable as possible, it will seldom lead to personal life-change. 

B: Outward application

The second part of the I will statement is about applying what I discovered to people and the world around me. How am I going to be a blessing (spiritually and practically) to other people? The focus is on other people. Every person in the group asks the Lord how they can obey – practically apply or do what they discovered from Scripture.

Each person will hear from the Lord specific and often unique things they must do or obey. It may be something directly related to the passage you studied. It may also be something else that God is sending you to do. The following can serve as typical examples.

  1. How will I be of service to someone in the week to come?
  2. How can I be a blessing to someone in the week to come?
  3. How must my behaviour change toward a specific individual?
  4. How can I bring love and hope to a needy world around me – identify someone and go to that person in the coming week?
  5. How can I practically be Jesus’ “hands and feet” to people around me – identify at least one situation where you can do it – maybe to help someone fix their gate or paint a wall, etc.
  6. Is there someone with whom I need to share my testimony or a message of warning or encouragement from the Bible?
  7. Is there someone I need to “meet for coffee” to encourage, listen to, or warn them about a possible wrong choice?
  8. Maybe you need to help at a soup kitchen, visit a sick friend and pray for him, go to someone and ask forgiveness or visit someone and ask how you can pray for him.
  9. God may send you to share your testimony with someone.

To summarise: Plan what you have promised, and schedule it. Otherwise, it will not happen. God wants you to use your hands to do, your feet to go, your mouth to speak, and your ears to listen to someone in need. Think of a person to help, a task that needs to be done, a problem that needs to be solved, a new DBS group that can be formed, a relationship that needs to be restored, a person to visit, pray and intercede for, a disciple that needs to be encouraged …anything that would expand God’s Kingdom. Then: plan it, set a date and time when you will do it or when it needs to be done, when and how you will do it. Do not promise God what you cannot or will not do, but promise out of obedience, conviction and love towards Him.

Guideline for facilitating a Three-Thirds DBS meeting

A DBS in the Three-Thirds format is where a group of people come together to read the Bible.

The essence of a Discovery Bible Study is, in the first place, to stop teaching and preaching and to help each person in the group to discover for themselves what the Holy Spirit is saying to them. The second principle is to move from only gathering information to practical obedience.

Theologians and pastors are often afraid and concerned that groups will come to wrong and unbiblical conclusions. The amazing thing is that sticking to the basic principles of facilitating a DBS seldom leads to major doctrinal errors.

(I am more concerned about all the theologians that end up believing the most horrendous things and do not even stick to the most basic teachings of the Bible and do not accept the authority of the Bible.)

  1. Submit to the authority of the Word. The starting point is to accept the Bible as the Word of God and a willingness to submit to the authority of the Word.
  2. Stay with the specific passage that you are studying. Don’t cross-reference to other passages. If the passage is, for instance, about Jesus telling the parable of the Sower, do not talk about baptism or speaking in tongues or the doctrine of election. These things are essential, but this specific passage is not saying anything about them. Sit with the Bible and ask two questions: 1. What is this passage say about God and me/people, and 2. What is there in this passage that God is asking me to obey? Do not do the next Bible Study before you have obeyed what God has said to you. There is no value in it. The Bible has a lot of information, themes, doctrines, and wonderful truths. But it is also a book to be obeyed. If we do not obey what God shows us from Scripture, we can save ourselves a lot of trouble by stopping reading the Bible.
  3. Commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc.: Do not use all kinds of commentaries or enter into discussions on dogma issues. There is a place for commentaries, deeper study, and consulting books on systematic theology and teachings on specific topics. But this must take place outside a typical DBS study. If someone starts to use such “tools”, ask them to stop using them for some time.
  4. Rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you. Let each person ask God (the Holy Spirit) to show you the things in the passage that He wants you to know and understand at this point.
  5. No right and wrong answers. There are, in principle, no right or wrong answers. Each person will discover specific things and must be free to share what he is learning. Do not start arguments about “right or wrong.” Suppose someone says something that is obviously not in the passage, against the broader teaching and message of the Bible, or irrelevant to the passage under discussion. In that case, the group can ask how the person arrived at such a conclusion in light of the specific passage they are discussing. If the person persists in talking about their particular viewpoint or revelation, the leader must make a ruling that they can discuss this specific issue after the meeting. For instance, if the passage is about the Sower parable and someone starts to give their views on speaking in tongues or baptism, the person must be asked to stick to the passage.
  6. Keep it simple. Do not try to discover “deep, wise, complex or remarkable things.” The question is: What is God showing you from this passage?
  7. Dogma: A DBS is not the place to discuss dogmatic views and differences.
  8. Discovering: This Bible Study method focuses on helping everyone in the group discover what God is saying to them. Neither the group facilitator nor the group members are allowed to teach or preach. Everyone listens to what God is saying to them, and we all ask the Holy Spirit how to apply it practically in our daily lives.
  9. When there is no consensus: If some disagree about something said in the group, ask the group to put this specific issue aside (to be discussed outside the group) and focus on the things that clearly emerge from the passage.
  10. The focus is to move from information to obedience. After we have studied the passage (story) and discovered what the passage says with added insights from the rest of the group, we now take the information and move towards obedience: How will I practically obey what I have discovered? What we discover must lead to obedience (application). One of the biggest complaints nowadays is: “I have so many questions about the Bible. There are so many things I do not understand.” There is a simple solution: start to obey the things you understand. For instance: Love God. Love your neighbour. Forgive. Do not steal. Live a pure life and be faithful to your husband (or wife). Numerous things in the Bible are easy to understand. Obey them. And very soon, you will discover that most of the other “issues” that troubled you will either disappear or you will understand what it actually means.

What is a Three-Thirds meeting?

Three-Thirds meetings and Discovery Bible Studies prove to be a very effective method to disciple Christians

A Three-Thirds meeting has three elements: 1) fellowship, 2) studying a passage or story from the Bible and 3) an obedience element where the whole group decide how they practically apply what they discovered during the Bible study.

The content of a Three-Thirds meeting can also be summarised as 1) looking back over the past week, 2) looking up by reading the Word and hearing what God want to teach us, and 3) looking forward – that is how we are going to practically obey (apply) what the Holy Spirit showed us from Scripture.

The meeting is structured to help us move from information and knowledge to obedience and application – from teaching and preaching to discovering what God is saying to us.

Three-Thirds/DBS meeting is a simple format that groups can use to study the Bible, have fellowship, and creates an opportunity for prayer. Because it is so simple, children, adults, new converts, mature disciples and Christian leaders can use this with great effect.

Format of a Three-Thirds Discovery Bible Study meeting

A typical meeting will be anything from an hour to 90 minutes. When it is possible, use 90-120  minutes.

First-Third (20-30 Minutes):

Looking back: What happened the past week

  1. Start the meeting with prayer. Do not rush over it. Do not just “open with prayer” – ask a few people to pray.
  2. Get feedback on the past week. What are the things that you are thankful for, and what are the things that were challenges? Be careful not to focus only on the challenges and complex issues.
  3. Take time to pray for one another.
  4. Everyone shares what happened with their I will statements (which will be explained below).

Second-Third (30-40 minutes)

Looking up: What does God want to say to us?

In this section, you do a group Bible Study called a DBS of Discovery Bible Study.

  1. Someone read the passage.
    1. Do not interpret the passage. Re-tell the story in your own words. A second person re-tells the story, and others in the group can add as much detail as possible. This is not a test to see who has the best memory – one person re-tells the story, and the rest of the group adds what they remember.
    1. Someone else read the passage.
  • The group discussion centres around two questions:
    • What do we learn from this passage about God (The Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit)?
    • What do we learn about ourselves/people or people’s reactions toward God from this passage?
    • Keep the focus on the first two questions, but you can also use other helpful questions like: Are there any promises God made, commands to obey, warnings, or valuable examples? What is standing out for you in this passage? Why do you think God put this passage in the Bible? What do we like in the passage?

Third-Third (20-30 minutes)

Looking forward: How are we going to apply what we discovered during the DBS

This is the section where we apply what we discovered from Scripture.

  1. How will I obey what I discovered from the Word of God? Ask God to show you what needs to change in your own life. Is there something that He wants you to stop doing? Is there something you must do? Are there things in your life that are not under the Lordship of Jesus? Is there something you do that will dishonour God and harm people? Etc. Am I going to pray about what we read in these two passages?
  2. How will you practically obey these Scriptures and what God revealed to you today? Is there someone that you can serve this week? Is there something you can/must do in obedience to Scripture we have studied today to show people what God expects from us, his character and love? Perhaps you must message someone, help, warn or encourage someone. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Sometimes it may be unrelated to the specific passage you have studied today. Maybe you need to go and pray for someone, take flowers to someone or offer practical help like taking their children to school (when the parents are sick), etc. Share what you will do in the group in obedience to God’s words. Hold one another accountable – if you say you will do something, make sure you do it. When you meet again, share what happened.
  3. What is there that God wants me to obey in the coming week? Is there anything God is asking me to do in the coming week? Is there something that needs to change in my own life? Is there something I must do or stop doing?
  4. Let each person formulate an “I will statement“. An “I will statement” is something that I feel God is saying to me that I need to practically do in obedience to what I have discovered from studying the specific passage.
  5. With whom can I share what I discovered during this meeting?
  6. Who can I invite to join our DBS group, or with whom can I start a new group?
  7. With whom can I share my testimony (my story) and what Jesus came to do for us ( (Jesus’ story)? This must become a lifestyle – look for opportunities to share.
  8. Prayer: Develop a lifestyle of prayer: pray daily for 30-60 min. Try to fast once a week – one or two meals. Disciplemaking is not a program – it involves life change – only God can do that.
  9. New converts: When you lead someone to the Lord, start immediately by meeting that person at least weekly and use the Three-Thirds Discovery Bible Study process to establish the new convert in the Lord and to make him a disciplemaking disciple.
  10. Take time to pray. Give ample time for prayer. Do not just ask someone to close in prayer.

About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert