What Makes a Successful DMM Discipleship Plan?

dmm discipleship plan

He opened the Bible, flipping pages. “Which scripture should our Discovery Bible Study (DBS) be about today? Hmmm. I really like the book of Psalms!” He thought. “But my last two Bible studies were also from Psalms.” Pages turned as his hand swept through them. “Maybe the New Testament is better. How about something from Jesus’ life?

Random selection of scriptures is common in many discipleship efforts. I even find myself tempted toward this as well. God works through His Word. Any scripture we help people study is useful. That is definitely true.

I am not saying you should never change your study plan to meet a particular need that comes up. We must be sensitive to people’s needs and to the Holy Spirit.

Relational, Not Random

At the same time, having a clear and simple plan in place is very freeing. It helps newer believers feel secure in knowing what to do with those they are discipling. It also ensures there are no major gaps of understanding in a disciple’s development.

In a previous post, I wrote about how to develop your initial discipleship plan. In this article, I will help you know what to do after that. Having a long-term discipleship plan is also important.

Quality discipleship is not rigid, it is relational. That doesn’t mean it is random. To develop disciple-makers who will multiply quickly you need a simple discipleship plan. It must be something easy for anyone in the movement to learn to use. Failure to determine a clear plan everyone uses becomes a hindrance to multiplication.

Grounded in the Word

We were working in a slum community in India. We’d chosen to use a storying approach. The people there were definitely from an oral culture. Each week we went to the slum, sat on the floor in the small houses and taught stories. Starting with prayer, worship, and some member care, we would then introduce the story for the week. I told the story twice while the group members listened carefully.

One of the women was particularly keen to learn. She quickly picked up the Bible stories and easily remembered the details. I often asked Maya* to be the first to repeat the story. It came so naturally for her. I didn’t need to teach her to use voice inflection or to emphasize the surprise. She was a naturally gifted storyteller!

We told the story again and again until each person in the group could repeat it fairly accurately. The babies on their shoulders or laps, the kids and chickens running in and out didn’t disturb us. Each person repeated the story with the others joining in to help when they got stuck.

We then discussed it together. “What do you like about this story?” I would ask. “What do we learn about God? About people?

Lastly, we talked about application. “What must we do to obey God’s Word this week?” They made specific decisions of what they would do to put God’s Word into practice.

Had It Worked?

Having used this long-term discipleship story set for a few years, one of our staff wanted to test their Bible knowledge. As a part of his Masters thesis, he evaluated the group. How well did they know scripture? How had studying in this way impacted their lives?

His findings were deeply encouraging! God’s Word had taken root in their lives. Their knowledge of scripture was far above the average traditional church Christian. Though most had only been believers a few years, they were well grounded in the Bible.

We also saw the impact of this in the transformation taking place in their lives! Families had stopped fighting. Widows were being cared for. Babies were no longer neglected. Money was used for children’s education rather than alcohol.

So many changes had taken place as they studied God’s Word orally, and then made decisions to obey it. And multiplication had happened too! Disciples made disciples. They started many new groups in other slums and across the nation.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

2 Tim 3:16-17 ESV

Long-Term Discipleship Plans to Choose From

Though it is possible to develop a topical plan, most DMM practitioners use a Bible overview plan. They either use a set of scripture passages, or a story set to take a new disciples through the entire Bible. Giving an overview of the Old Testament is helpful. It builds the foundation from which disciples can understand the New Testament well.

Below are some resources you can choose from. Or, you may prefer to develop your own. What you use is not as important as choosing something and sticking with it for some time (perhaps a year or two). Then, be sure to evaluate it. Determine whether or not it is working well. If not, make adjustments to see greater fruitfulness and reproducibility.

1. Discovery Bible Study Lesson Set

Here are two options if you are using a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) approach.

a. Discover App’s list. If you are working with English, Arabic, Somali, Dari, Pashto, or Bahasa, consider using the scripture list found in the Discover App.

b. YWAM Frontier Missions’s list. If you are looking for a pdf with a list of stories and scriptures for DBS you can download that here. This is the list that is being given to those who take the Harvest Multiplication Training (HMT).

2. T4T Bible Study Scripture Set

In Ying Kai’s original short term discipleship set, Lesson 7 is about participatory Bible study. At the end of Lesson 7, there is a set of scriptures to use for long-term discipleship and study. You can download that for free here.

3. ST4T Story Set

For oral culture peoples, it is recommended that you use a set of stories. This is more effective than just doing Bible studies. David Garrison has developed an excellent ST4T manual that is available for free via this link.

4. God and Woman Stories

This is an excellent set of stories developed by the International Mission Board (IMB) for use with Muslim women. It has been used with other religious blocks as well and can be adapted to suit other contexts. This is available for download via here.

Choose a Plan

What is the long-term discipleship plan you will use? Don’t forget, having the perfect plan is not as important as simply having a plan. Randomly choosing scriptures doesn’t reproduce.

Talk with your co-workers or team this week. Decide which plan you will use.

Do you have other options to suggest? Please let me know in the comments below so all can benefit. Or mention it in the DMMs Facebook group.

*not her real name


  1. Simon Kiefer

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    unfortunately your website does not allow me to get the “List of Scriptures for DBS”. The link-option does not work. Is there a chance that I may receive that list in another way?

    I am really interested in it, because I lead a young-adults-group that meets weekly from my church here in Germany.

    Simon Kiefer

    1. Post

      Sorry you are experiencing difficulty with the link. Sure, we can email it to you! We will fix the link if it is broken. Thanks for letting us know about that.

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