Written by: Chris Galanos
The way we encourage people to Focus on God’s Word is through a 7-Question DBS Process of reading, obeying, and sharing the Bible. The question sometimes comes up, “Why these 7 questions?” This is often asked by folks who may not want to use the questions or may want to change them up and ask their own questions. They often don’t understand why using these 7 questions is so important, so I want to discuss that here.
Before we begin, I want to make sure to say that we don’t think these 7 Questions are “sacred” in the sense that they can’t be changed. We are just concerned that if they are changed, you may lose certain DNA that is important in seeing disciples making disciples.
Here are 4 reasons why the 7 Questions are so important:
1. The 7 Questions have an emphasis on discovery.
The 7 Questions are worded in a way that invites people to listen to God speak to them through the text of Scripture (John 6:45). As a result, the questions are very broad and don’t suggest a certain answer. For example, the question, “What does this passage teach you about God?” could be answered differently depending on what sticks out to each person from the text based on their context and background. If you were to change the question to make it more narrow like, “This passage says ______ about God, what do you think about that?” it might suggest a specific answer, which could bring your own presuppositions to the text and possibly keep the group from hearing what God might want to say to them (which could be different than what God said to you).
To clarify, I’m not saying that one person might hear God say that something is bad and another person might hear God say that same thing is good. I’m just saying that certain things about God in that passage may stick out to one person that don’t stick out to another. For example, one person might discover in a particular passage that “God is loving” while another person might discover that “God is just.” Both of which are true & are in the passage, but God might highlight one more than another for a certain person reading that text. The broader question invites God to do the highlighting rather than us.
2. The 7 Questions have an emphasis on obedience and sharing.
Questions #6 and #7 about what you should obey in response to the passage and who you should share with are the most important questions in the 7-Question DBS process. And chances are, if someone changes up the questions, those important concepts may be left out since an emphasis on obedience & sharing is not as common in the typical American Bible study. We tend to leave those concepts out. The problem is that obedience-based discipleship is a critical component in the DNA of movements. A disciple of Jesus obeys Jesus and shares about him with others which makes more disciples. If we hope to make disciples, we must encourage people to “put into practice” what they are reading & pass it along to others. You risk losing that if you depart from the questions.
3. The 7 Questions are reproducible.
This is one of the most important reasons we encourage people to stick with the 7 Questions. Our desire is for our disciples to really believe they can make disciples. If they don’t believe they can make disciples, they probably won’t. And what often causes them to believe they can’t make disciples? They don’t feel like they can do with others what you are doing with them. It’s not simple. There’s no consistent pattern. It’s not reproducible. It requires an expert like you, not a newbie like them. The 7 Questions give disciple-makers a simple way to train people to make more disciples. Anyone can remember 7 Questions. Anyone can ask the 7 Questions. Anyone can train someone else to ask the 7 Questions. And those 7 Questions contain the DNA needed to see a Disciple Making Movement.
Gary, one of our church planters, recently shared with me a great example of reproducibility. He said he had been sharing the gospel with some guys and he really thought they were catching it. He would pour his heart out & passionately quote all of these Scripture verses that describe the gospel. He was hoping they would hear what he said & pass it on. One day he heard one of the guys trying to share it with someone else & the guy was stumbling all over himself as he tried to share. Gary could tell he was trying to share it like him but the guy just couldn’t remember everything he said or how he said it. Gary immediately knew that the way he was sharing might’ve been powerful but it wasn’t reproducible. After hearing that guy have trouble reproducing what he heard from him, Gary began to take a simpler, more reproducible approach to sharing the gospel. He started just giving them a few Scripture references & then he let them read the verses & discover the same things he was preaching to them. But now they could pass it on because they wrote down the few Scripture references & could simply read those same passages with their friends & talk about what they say.
If someone changes the questions or makes up their own, there’s a real danger that your disciples won’t reproduce it. You’ve made it too complicated. You didn’t give them a simple format that they could remember & pass on to others. That’s why we encourage just sticking with the 7 Questions.
Let me stop here and say this. Not everyone executing a CPM approach uses 7 questions. Some use 6. Some may use 8. The key is that how ever many questions you are using, you use the same ones every time & everyone knows them & can use them with others. Once you pick your questions, you don’t want to change them unless there’s a compelling reason. Otherwise, you may unintentionally stop reproduction in your groups. Also, if you were to use your own questions, you’d need to make sure they met the “discovery” and “obedience & sharing” emphases above as well.
4. The 7 Questions give a common language to the movement & make coaching easier.
If your coach refers to Question #7 but you only use 4 Questions, you have no idea what he/she is talking about & it makes coaching more difficult. If a fellow church planter talks about the importance of Question #6 but your #6 is different than their #6, it gets confusing. It’s helpful to have common language within coaching networks. I’d encourage you that if your coach & your church planting peers use 7 Questions, stick with 7 Questions. If they use 6 Questions, stick with 6 Questions. It just helps everyone to stay on the same page. This also helps when the teams get together to share testimonies & best practices. Everyone is using a similar language.
I’m sure there are more reasons to stick with the number of questions that is used in your church planting circle, but these are the most important reasons that come to mind.
Roy Moran, author of Spent Matches and a DMM mentor of mine, regularly talks about the importance of using the same set of questions. One time I heard him say that in a coaching meeting with some of his teams, he found that people weren’t all asking the 7 Questions. He joked with us about how he pounded the table and emphatically told his teams, “JUST ASK THE 7 QUESTIONS!!!” Why would he say that? Why wouldn’t he just let them use their own questions? Why wouldn’t he just let them “go with the flow?” Probably for many of the reasons I mentioned above!
Let me address one objection I’ve heard from some believers. Some people object to the 7 Questions by saying, “I just want to be led by the Spirit when I start groups.” That response kinda scares me. Not the being led by the Spirit part. I’ve never been a part of anything as “led by the Spirit” as our pursuit of movement. I think being led by the Spirit is CRITICAL. I just think sometimes the Spirit gets blamed for our desire to do things our own way, even if it’s not reproducible and doesn’t lead to obedience & sharing. The 7-Question DBS Process is so broad & open-ended, the Spirit can move freely as people work through the questions. Another reason that objection scares me is that the believer raising the objection isn’t supposed to be “leading” the group or even attending longer than 3 weeks based on the 3 Week Principle. So, what will happen when the believer who is “led by the Spirit” leaves? The group will have no idea what to do. As a result, the believer will need to stay because they are the only one who knows how to be “led by the Spirit.” Then the believer naturally becomes the leader and the Bible-answer person. Thus, unintentionally killing the ability of the group of reproduce or lead themselves.
Let me reaffirm. The 7 Questions are not sacred. They aren’t found in the Bible. But they are a reproducible tool that has proven to be very effective at encouraging disciples to make disciples that make even more disciples, the very thing we’re longing for. I’d encourage you to use whatever set of questions your DMM/CPM network & coaches are using & stick with them. If you depart from them, you do it at great risk to your effectiveness as a disciple-maker.