Discovery Bible Studies – Eight Month Review

The youth in the Marabá church are starting to experiment with the DBS model. In the last couple of weeks, they started 14 new groups. Nine stopped after only one or two meetings. Five of these new groups are still going, and many of the young people are looking for other people who may be open to starting groups. Most people who try this type of a Bible study like it, but many people are simply too busy, or not ready. We are trying to honor those who start groups that stop as much as those who start groups that carry on. We have a total of about 14 groups in Marabá now that meet each week, and several who seem poised to start soon. Starting groups like planting seeds; when they don’t take, we are learning to move on and try again.

We started experimenting with the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process in August. We grew to 23 DBS groups by Christmas. Our church started changing so rapidly the leaders became uneasy. Things started to take off in an unprecedented way and they did not have peace about where it was all going. There were other factors also that contributed to the apprehension.

In December Deanna and I left for about 6 weeks of travelling. This was a good thing. This allowed the dust to settle and the growth to slow down. When we got back 9 groups were still going. In the months following our return Ivanildo and I had some good talks at a deeper level than we have had in the past. Now the local leaders are feeling good about leading the Marabá church forward, and using this model, though there are still many questions. We are free to help here in Marabá, to start groups in new cities, and to help other churches learn the model.

Last week-end Elba invited us to introduce this DBS model to some of the Mirante church leaders. Elba is continuing with their cell group model for some of that congregation, but introducing this as their own pilot project with other leaders. This week-end I am going to Santarem to meet with Clenildo, Angelita, and some leaders in their church. Next week-end I am going to Canaã, with the goal of going there for five week-ends during April and May.

We are still waiting to see a whole Discovery Group decide to get baptized. Deanna’s lady’s group looks like they may be the first. They are 23 lessons into the first 26. I led one group through the whole 26 lessons, but they were all baptized before we started, even though they were in a lukewarm state spiritually when they started. Two of the key players in this first group experienced great disruptions in their lives during this process. Eliete’s brother died, causing weeks of travel and disruption. Then her ex-husband died, causing months of travel as she works to pursue legal rights for her children. Her teen-age son Luan was also a key person, facilitating his own DBS group and on the verge of starting yet another. It was his dad who drowned. He moved to Southern Brazil to resolve legal issues, and his groups stopped. That was months ago. The other fellows in my group were already baptized, and they continue to serve in the church. One is facilitating a new group.

I continue to be in relationship with Tiago (who was beating his wife the first time we met) and Leila, but their group has not restarted. Jaycee (“I am so sick of sin”) and Fabio are interested, but they also have not restarted. They both told me that Fabio used to be addicted to pot, but he has not had any interested since our second DBS in their house last September or October. This has been good for their family. Fabio and Tiago would both start going on missionary trips with me if I could figure out how to make that work. Maybe to Canaã? A lady in one of the Canaã groups got her wrist instantly healed during one DBS meeting. She couldn’t wash clothes. This was last Fall. In February I went back up there and it was still healed. “See. I can still wash clothes.” I am trying to figure out a way to spend more time in Canaã. A few hours once in awhile does not seem enough. I think there are four groups that will start or restart if I start showing up regularly.

Johnny (who leads a rock band) really wants to reactivate his group. They have trouble meeting without me present. Some who come do not value him as a spiritual leader. Last week they were going to meet without me, but then his Mom got really unreasonably sick with a bad attack of dengue, and they had to cancel.

It is hard to know what is spiritual warfare, and what is just part of living in a broken world. Elba invited me to come to lead some meetings in the Mirante church long ahead of time. “I’m sorry it is so far in the future, but the is the first time we can fit you in.” The meetings were to be in early March. The day we were to meet one of the beloved young fathers in their church died, and there was a funeral instead of the DBS meetings. We rebooked and did the meetings two weeks later. Clenildo and Angelita are running hard and really stretched. Still, they wanted to fit in a couple of meetings about DBS with their leaders before we leave for the summer. A few days ago they had a bad car accident. No one was seriously hurt, but there was trauma, car damage, and no insurance. I am still going to go there this week-end, just to be with them, and to see if it is a good time to have some extra meetings. I think this is Angelita’s first big car accident. Faithfulness and perseverance enable us overcome many obstacles.

One lesson I am learning is the necessity of finding ways to hang out with the various group facilitators. Once we identify group leaders, we need to find ways to hang out together. Pizza. Mission trips. Other ways. This is the most challenging part for me at this time.

In summary, we continue to learn about how this DBS process will work in our circumstances. The adventure is back in the game.

31 Questions about Discovery Bible Studies


  1. What should I do when the group only want to study one time?
  2. What are the lists of verses we can use for Discovery Bible Studies?
  3. What happens at the end of the 26 selections in the Creation for Christ study?
  4. How long should I persist with a group?
  5. What happens when many in the group quit coming?
  6. What is the difference between Discovery Bible Studies and discipleship?
  7. Can we arrange to do a Discovery Bible Study during the time of the church service?
  8. What is the difference between Discovery Bible Studies and cell groups?
  9. What should I do if my group has people who have problems with the law, and they confess things to me?
  10. Do you have to have prayer in Discovery Bible Studies?
  11. What should I do when the group is not a good location to do the studies, or when the group disagrees with the location?
  12. What should I do if the majority of the group gives up, if just one faithful person remains other than myself, and we have many visitors participating if they are passing by?
  13. What if my group is illiterate?
  14. Does the leader of the group need to be a Christian?
  15. What is needed to do a Discovery Bible Studies?
  16. What should I do if the group ends all 26 lessons without visible results?
  17. What should I do if someone is stealing my people or my group?
  18. What should I do when the people only want me as a leader / facilitator?
  19. What are the signs when the group is ending?
  20. Is there anything about men doing groups with men and women with women?
  21. What should I do when the group is quiet, when they do not speak or interact?
  22. What should I do if some in the group begins to believe false doctrines because of the stories studied?
  23. What should I do when a person in the group talks too much?
  24. What should I do if the group wants to increase the study time to be more than an hour?
  25. What should I do if someone in the group comes to harmful conclusions from a text?
  26. How can I tell who is a Person of Peace?
  27. How many people are needed for a Discovery Bible Study?
  28. Can an addict or someone trapped in a serious sin start a Discovery Bible Studies?
  29. What should I do if someone misses some studies in the group?
  30. How do I know who should be the leader in the group?
  31. What is the difference between the leader and the facilitator?

November 2015

Paul Friesen, and a team from Cambridge, Ontario, came for a visit.

Surprising Thoughts About Unity

Moving towards conflicting ideas may be more helpful than moving away from them. Here is why.










Robust Unity

I used to think that one way to have a more unified team was to somehow avoid conflict. Then I heard this statement:

“A pastor who avoids conflict has a bigger chance of experiencing a church split.”

I was surprised and a little incredulous by what I learned this at the Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution, in Fresno California.


The “One Another” Verses

The Bible has a lot to say about how we are to treat those around us.

When you are in doubt about how God wants you to respond to a certain relationship situation, here is God’s council. (I copied this list from Contagious Disciple, by Watson J., & Watson P.).


  1. Accept one another. (Rom 15: 7)
  2. Agree with one another. (1 Cor. 1: 10; Phil. 4: 2)
  3. Bear with one another. (Col. 3: 13)
  4. Remember that we belong to one another. (Rom. 12: 5)
  5. Consider one another as better. (Phil. 2: 3)
  6. Do not break faith with one another. (Mal. 2: 10)
  7. Build up one another. (Eph. 4: 29; 1 Thess. 5: 11)
  8. Do not be a burden to one another. (Gal. 6: 4– 5)
  9. Carry one another’s burdens. (Gal. 6: 2)
  10. Do not compare yourselves to one another. (Gal. 6: 4– 5)
  11. Have equal concern for one another. (1 Cor. 12: 25– 27)
  12. Confess your sins to one another. (James 5: 16)
  13. Do not covet one another’s spouses. (Ex. 20: 17; Deut. 5: 21)
  14. Do not desire one another’s property. (Ex. 20: 17; Deut. 5: 21)
  15. Let no debt remain outstanding to one another. (Rom. 13: 8)
  16. Do not allow stealing, lying, and deception to be a part of your relationships with one another. (Lev. 19: 11)
  17. Do not devour or destroy one another. (Gal. 5: 15)
  18. Be devoted to one another. (Rom. 12: 10)
  19. Discipline one another. (Matt. 18: 15– 17)
  20. Do good and share with one another. (Heb. 13: 16)
  21. Build up one another with your faith. (Rom. 1: 11– 12)
  22. Encourage one another. (1 Thess. 4: 18; 5: 11; Titus 1: 9; Heb. 3: 13; 10: 25)
  23. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Heb. 10: 24)
  24. Do not envy one another. (Gal. 5: 26)
  25. Judge one another fairly. (Lev. 19: 15)
  26. Do not do anything to cause one another to fall. (Rom. 14: 21)
  27. Fellowship with one another. (1 John 1: 7)
  28. Forgive one another. (Matt. 18: 21– 35; Eph. 4: 32; Col. 3: 13)
  29. Serve one another with your gifts. (1 Cor. 12: 7; 1 Peter 4: 10)
  30. Give to one another. (Prov. 3: 28; Luke 6: 30; 17: 3– 4)
  31. Greet one another. (Rom. 16: 16; 1 Peter 5: 14)
  32. Do not hold a grudge against one another. (Lev. 19: 18)
  33. Do not grumble against one another. (James 5: 9)
  34. Do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward one another. (Deut. 15: 7)
  35. Do not plot harm against one another. (Prov. 3: 29)
  36. Live in harmony with one another. (Rom. 12: 16; 1 Peter 3: 8)
  37. Do not hate one another in your hearts. (Lev. 19: 17)
  38. Honor one another above yourselves. (Rom. 12: 10) 39.
  39. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4: 9)
  40. Have humility toward one another. (1 Peter 5: 5)
  41. Do not do things that will hurt one another. (Rom. 14: 15)
  42. Be full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct one another. (Rom. 15: 14)
  43. Do not charge one another interest on personal loans of money or goods. (Deut. 23: 19)
  44. Do not judge one another. (Rom. 14: 10, 13; 14: 13; James 4: 12)
  45. Be kind to one another and everyone else. (1 Thess. 5: 15; 2 Tim. 2: 24; Eph. 4: 32)
  46. Do not lie to or about one another. (Ex. 20: 16; Deut. 5: 20; Col. 3: 9– 10)
  47. Look after one another’s interests. (Phil. 2: 4)
  48. Do not gloat over the destruction of one another, or boast about your good fortune when others are in trouble. (Obad. 1: 12)
  49. Do not look down on one another. (Rom. 14: 10)
  50. Love one another. (Lev. 19: 18; Matt. 22: 36– 39; Mark 12: 28– 31; Luke 10: 25– 27; John 13: 34– 35; 15: 12; 17; Rom. 13: 9; Gal. 5: 14; 1 Thess. 3: 12; 4: 9; 2 Thess. 1: 3; Heb. 13: 1; James 2: 8; 1 Peter 1: 22; 4: 8; 1 John 3: 11, 23; 4: 7, 11– 12; 2 John 1: 5– 6; see also 1 Corinthians 13: 4– 13)
  51. Have mercy and compassion for one another. (Zech. 7: 9)
  52. Be openhanded with one another. (Deut. 15: 11)
  53. Be patient with one another. (Eph. 4: 2)
  54. Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9: 50; 1 Thess. 5: 12– 13)
  55. Pray for one another. (James 5: 16)
  56. Do not provoke one another. (Gal. 5: 26)
  57. Rebuke one another so you don’t share another’s guilt. (Lev. 19: 17)
  58. Be reconciled to one another. (Matt. 5: 23– 24)
  59. Show respect to one another. (1 Peter 2: 17)
  60. Gently restore one another when caught in sin. (Gal. 6: 1)
  61. Do not seek revenge against one another. (Lev. 19: 18)
  62. Seek the good of one another. (1 Cor. 10: 24)
  63. Serve one another. (Gal. 5: 13)
  64. Do not slander one another. (James 4: 11)
  65. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph. 5: 19– 20)
  66. Do not steal from one another by stealth, force, trickery or deceit. (Lev. 19: 13)
  67. Do not put stumbling blocks or obstacles in one another’s way. (Rom. 14: 13)
  68. Submit to one another. (1 Cor. 16: 15– 16; Eph. 5: 21)
  69. Do not take advantage of one another. (Lev. 25: 14, 17)
  70. Teach and admonish one another. (Col. 3: 16)
  71. Make sure there is a good reason to testify against one another. (Prov. 24: 28)
  72. Do not think evil of one another. (Zech. 7: 10)
  73. Speak truth to one another. (Zech. 8: 16– 17)
  74. Do not plot evil against one another. (Zech. 8: 16– 17)
  75. Wait for one another. (1 Cor. 11: 33)

Watson, David; Watson, Paul (2014). Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery (p. 166-168). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


Emma and Bella Leave Brazil

Off to study abroad…

Do they look like world travelers? Emma moved to Canada on Thursday, and Bella flew with her for the summer. Deanna will fly home later this summer for a month or so, and return with Bella, who will finish her Grade 12 in Brazil and then decide what she wants to do next.

This may be the best place to eat in Belem. We’ll take you here if you come to visit us.

Last meal together at the airport.

 And they are off to study abroad.

The Birdies

A letter from Emma and Bella to their Mom

Emma and Bella surprised us with this book just before they went through the security gates, on their way out of Brazil.

Deanna and I are empty-nesters for the summer. Bella will come back in the Fall to do Grade 12.