THE DISCOVER TRIAD, booklet review

THE DISCOVER TRIAD:  Three Facets of a Dynamic Sunday School Class

Welcome to the eQuipping page for The Discover Triad – Three Facets of a Dynamic Sunday School Class.

Session ONE
Become familiar with the credits, Contents, Introduction, and Additional help sections.  These pages, 2-6 and 48, give us the footing we need as we springboard into the first chapter, “Discovering Scripture.”

The credits, page 2, tell us a little about the author, David Francis.  Throughout our study, I’ll simply refer to him as either the author or David.  Be sure to read his bio.

The Contents, page 3, shows us where we’re going.  As we discuss effective Bible study (through the triad of discovery), we’ll discover what the author would like for us to learn from the book, that is, a fresh perspective on the “why” of Bible study through Sunday School.  Keep this in mind as we engage in the weeks to come.

The Introduction, pages 4-6, gives us the context of The Discovery Triad.  The booklet is part three of four in a series based on the author’s book, The 3D Sunday School (click the title to read our review of that booklet).  David recommends that you read the DISCOVER chapter of that booklet.

In the Introduction, discover what the word discover means!

Also in the Introduction, David shares his favorite use of the word triad.

QUESTION:  So…  What is the author’s favorite use of the word triad?!  Page 6 gives the details of the answer.  Be sure to read it.

Finally, the introduction discloses the three interrelated aspects of Sunday School that contribute to an excellent Bible study experience:  Scripture, Stories, and Shepherding.

We also learn the purpose of The Discover Triad:  to motivate us to make our classes a dynamic experience of discovery that people won’t want to miss.  This is why we’ve invited members of our classes to join their teachers in this e-study.

Session TWO – Discovering Scripture, pages 7-11
First and foremost, let’s remember that the Bible is our textbook in Sunday School.  Historically, this is how Sunday School started.  As the Sunday School movement grew, students were provided resources to help them prepare for the class experience.

QUESTION:  What material/resource do you use in your Sunday School class or small group?

The author gives us a better understanding of the meaning of curriculum.  We usually use that term to describe the resources and material we use for Bible study.  In reality, curriculum refers to the overall PLAN for Bible study.  Our church uses primarily LifeWay curriculum.

DISCOVER:  On page 8, David states some facts about LifeWay curriculum.  Fill in the blanks:

“LifeWay curriculum is developed around a __________ study of _____ Biblical concepts.”

Recalling that the Bible is our textbook, we see that Scripture is the heart of the Sunday School movement.  Teachers are the heartbeat.  They don’t just teach the Bible, they teach people.  The focus, then, is to lead people to be transformed by the Word of God.  Transformed people will make a difference in the lives of others.

Finally, let’s turn our attention to the role of learning with the Bible as our textbook.  Our task as teachers is to lead our learners to discover the truths in God’s Word.  David reminds us that Jesus used discovery teaching throughout His ministry.  By any definition, He produced doers.

May we as teachers lead in this type of discovery.  And may we as learners become enthusiastic about discovery learning.

ANSWER:  What do you do in your (our) church?  What do you want to do?

Session THREE – Discovering Scripture, pages 11-17
Jesus perfected the technique of responding to a question or concern by storytelling or asking questions.  And, of course, that changed or challenged the lives of people He touched.  The author of our study reminds us that we, too, wrestle with important questions:  of life or death, of heaven or hell, of faith or fate, of love or hate, of hope or despair, of joy or fear, of meaning or purposelessness.

DISCOVER:  On page 13, we learn of two teaching methods that are appropriate for almost every age group.  Name them:  _____________ and _____________

There are a few “mechanics” about asking questions:  specific wording, voice tone and inflection, body language, eye contact, and emotion.  These features can help teachers ask thought-provoking questions.  Learners can also ask questions that lead to deep discovery.

The key question we teach our (First Baptist Church’s) FAITH Evangelism partners to ask in their conversations with others is:  In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven and have eternal life?  This is a great example of a question that has specific wording and can be asked with all kinds of body language involved.

The author states an old but true adage:  Whoever asks the questions controls the conversation.  Teachers, you can keep your class on task by asking questions that cause learners to focus on the lesson’s objective.  Sometimes, though, a learner asks a question that might derail the lesson.  Take charge.  LEAD the class to discover Jesus in the lesson or question (especially Old Testament lessons); and/or SHOW the class where the Cross is in the lesson.

QUESTION:  What are the three types of questions the author discusses  (page14)?
_______________, _______________, and _______________

On page 15, David talks a little about participation.  He affirms what many of our children and youth teachers practice:  watch for teachable moments and share the Scripture as appropriate.

Both teachers and learners should be prepared to discuss the lesson.  Conversation is an important aspect of lesson retention.  And good questions, by everyone, can lead to deep and rich responses.

ANSWER:  What type of question(s) do you like for your teacher to ask?

Session FOUR – Discovering Scripture, pages 18-21
Before we get too far along, let’s take a look back at page 16.  The author, David Francis, introduces us to “conversational moves,” an intentional activity that a teacher can use to lead learners to ask specific questions that reinforce connections within the group.

Preparation is necessary for discovery learning.  I like the statement David made on page 18:  The first task of the teacher who leads discovery learning is a hard one:  deciding what not to say.  An effective teacher/leader, then, will focus on a few truths or insights that will in turn keep the group centered on the objective of the lesson.  This preparedness relies upon the teacher knowing the character of the class, the members’ needs, and how learners will respond to specific questions that reinforce connections within the group (again, see page 16 for a good example of controlling a conversation).

We’re reminded that Sunday School classes are open groups by design.

EXERCISE:  Write your definition of an open Sunday School group.  See page 19 for more information.

Our teachers at First Baptist, from preschool to adult classes, each practice their own distinct teaching method using a variety of resources.  To inform our guests of this, we publish a leaflet entitled, “Sunday School – Make the Connection.”  The online version is available HERE (hard copies are available at the Welcome Center).  The leaflet has been a great guide for visitors and, in fact, is used every week to introduce families to what we have to offer at First Baptist Church.  It also informs parents of the names of their children’s teachers and the location of each class.  Be sure to check it out.  It’s one of several tools important to our Sunday School strategy, especially as adults seek to know something about the teaching/learning styles of our adult classes.

The chapter, Discovering Scripture, concludes with the author discussing the lecture method of teaching.

ANSWER:  What do you like best about the lecture method of teaching?  What do you not like about it?!

Session FIVE – Discovering Stories, pages 22-26
We’ve finished our review of Discovering Scripture, the first facet of The Discover Triad.  The second facet is Discovering Stories.  The author introduces us to the importance of sharing stories in our Sunday School classes.  Everyone can participate in this activity, including visitors.  Storytelling gives people the opportunity to connect Scripture with their own experiences and to connect their life journeys with each other.  An important principle to remember about this discovery facet is that stories should connect life issues with the passage from the Bible that the group is about to encounter.

QUESTION:  Hearing others’ stories is encouraging, especially within a small group composed of people from various walks of life and degrees of faith.  Let’s review your exercise from last week:  What is an open Sunday School group?  See page 24 for David Francis’ description – it is the ideal for all of our adult Sunday School classes, and probably many children and youth classes, too.

CHALLENGE FOR APPLICATION:  If your class is not “open,” what will you do to change that?  This is where Sunday School as intentional outreach comes in:  Christians inviting non-Christian friends and family, long-time members enlisting new members, and veterans of faith encouraging or mentoring new believers.  This is how we reach people for Jesus and teach them how to live for Him!

We’re reminded that Jesus was the greatest storyteller.  David states, “Jesus did not come merely to be the subject of a story, or just to tell stories, but to impact our stories” (p. 23).  Jesus is, indeed, the center and subject, the mover and shaker, of our life stories.  As you discover Scripture be sure that Christ is exalted in your storytelling venture.

I’ve used the following before as a guide for sharing stories in class:

Use personal examples and stories in ways that demonstrate humility and not boastfulness.  This really does reveal the love you have for people.  Just make sure it keeps you on a level playing field with your class and that the story/example doesn’t elevate you above your class.  Your story may certainly demonstrate a personal strength but be sure to balance the story with humility or even acknowledgement of a weakness.

ANSWER:  What do you like about storytelling (or, what would you like to hear in a good story)?  This might be a little difficult to answer right now but I’d like to hear from some of you about it.

Session SIX – Discovering Stories, pages 27-29
The author shares how stories build community.  We’re reminded that Sunday School classes should strive to open the hearts and minds of the members and in the process, help build relationships that deepen the appreciation of differences and commonalities (p. 27).

A good example of this in our church was experienced in the fall of 2012 when a group of fathers met for several weeks to take on the challenge of “Raising a Modern Day Knight.”  As men shared, we discovered how much in common we had as fathers raising sons in today’s world.  The stories were authentic and good discussion often occurred in the small group time.

The concept of using stories requires work.  David points out that it is not only the responsibility of the teacher to draw out stories but for the whole class to do so as well.  Effective questions help do this.  On page 28, there are a number of great questions that can start the storytelling-ball rolling.

EXERCISE:  Who is your favorite comic book Super Hero?  How would you use this question in a small group setting (or would you, and if not, why)?

Everyone has a story to tell.  A good outline for making the story stick is found on page 28, and in reality, it’s more like a circle.  When a story is shared, the circle starts all over again.

DISCOVER:  List the “four dots” of the Indian storyteller (page 28):

When we read the parables of Jesus, we find that His stories were brief and to the point.  Even the story of the creation of the world was brief!  David states, “(A) great storyteller makes every word count.  He uses facial expressions and body language effectively.  She varies her voice tone and volume.  But above all, the great storyteller understands the value of brevity” (page 29).

He then shares some problems of storytelling.  I’m reminded of what we teach in FAITH evangelism training in the telling of our salvation story.  On the order of brevity and clarity, we encourage a 30-45 second statement of our life before Christ, then stating something like “I had a life-changing experience” that leads into a 30-45 second statement of our life now with Christ.  Try this for yourself.  In about 90 seconds you can, indeed, share your personal story of salvation.

QUESTION:  Ask a question that will create interest in the story in Mark 10:13-16.  Be sure your question is interesting or intriguing enough to ensure discussion.

Session SEVEN – Discovering Stories, pages 29-31
Let’s review brevity (p. 29).  The author, David Francis, lists the following problems of storytelling that have an effect on keeping the story brief and to the point:

– reading the story instead of telling it
– including too many details
– overemphasizing minor details which cloud the main point
– quoting ineffectually from memory
– sermonizing a main point rather than letting it find its natural place in the story
– telling the story unenthusiastically
– using of visual aids rather than expression and body movement
– poorly organizing of the story (confusing flow of the story)

In addition, a good story causes hearers to use their own imagination in perceiving details of the story’s background or setting.

Next, David relates that “the most important part of a truly great discussion, where Scripture and stories intersect in powerful and meaningful ways, (is) listening” (p.29).  He calls listening an art that “begins with a genuine interest in the views and stories of others” (p. 30).  He goes on to add that developing this art will help us listen more carefully to God as He speaks to us through His Word, and perhaps through others.

Teachers are challenged to model listening.  I teach 6th graders and let me tell you, that’s hard to do some days!  But when each child hears his/her point repeated back or tied into the lesson – and given credit for it – they are further drawn into the study (they begin to “own” the study).  I didn’t learn this skill overnight and, truth is, I’m still trying to do it effectively, especially when 12 kids are talking at the same time!  Teachers, listen and interact with your members’ comments or stories, but be sure to keep them on track.

ANSWER:  What are the three parts of a conversation, and which of these parts should be the priority (p. 30)?  ________, ________, ________

We conclude this chapter, Discovering Stories, with a reminder that stories and Scripture must meet in the classroom – and when they do, Jesus must be the center and subject of it all.  God has given His creation – us – the capacity to love stories.  Each of us, indeed, has a story to tell and as you read this, yours is a story still in the making!

Session EIGHT – Discovering Shepherding, pages 32-34
While it’s the shortest of the three sections, the author David Francis teaches us that the shepherd-teacher “is most comfortable sitting down among the flock” inviting stories to be shared, leading Scripture to be discovered, and shepherding lives to be changed (p. 33).  Shepherding is, indeed, a spiritual gift.

FILL IN THE BLANKS:  Read the verse the author references in discussing the spiritual gift of shepherding on page 32.  The word “_________-_________” comes from the Greek word _________ and appears 16 more times in the New Testament when it is usually translated “______________.”

On page 33, David states, “You can be a teacher without being a shepherd but you can’t be a shepherd without being a teacher.”  Think about your own experiences in Sunday School or a small group.

Make a list of what you’ve observed about the teacher who you think has the gift of shepherding:

______________________________       ______________________________
______________________________        ______________________________
______________________________        ______________________________

Apprenticeship is a good way for someone to learn how to be a shepherd-teacher.  David lists four characteristics of a prospective apprentice (pgs.33-34):

1.  demonstrates effective, gifted group leadership
2.  completes assignments eagerly and thoroughly
3. serves as a designated listener for his/her mentor
4.  shows concern for people by connecting ideas and drawing them into the discussion of Scripture and sharing of stories

Session NINE – Discovering Shepherding, pages 34-36
There are two main points that the author makes about shepherding:

– The greatest example of what it means to be a shepherd is Jesus.
– The greatest reward for the shepherd-teacher is witnessing one of your class members publicly profess Christ through baptism.

David also outlines for us how a shepherd-teacher implements the tenets of The Discover Triad (p. 35):

– leading people to enjoy fellowship around the Word of God
– teaching one another through discussions of Scripture
– encouraging one another through stories
– caring for one another through shepherding


ANSWER:  Who is your Sunday School teacher?  What do you do to uplift him/her?

On page 35, David provides a good summary of each facet of The Discover Triad:

– Scripture is the most important facet of the Triad.
– Stories provide a means for discussing, hearing, learning, and growing.
– Shepherding is about inviting others to share their stories then responding to their stories.

We have been given a refreshing reminder of what we do in Sunday School at First Baptist.  As David says it, Sunday School is “being equipped to share Scripture and stories in a natural way as a part of our everyday conversations with people who need to know Christ.”  (p. 36)


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