The Rev David Gwee – is Chairman of the Executive Committee of Disciple Agency, and a pastor at Christ Methodist Church.
“Commit myself to 34 weeks of Bible study? No way. You must be joking! I’m too busy and I don’t have the time.”
Tell someone about the DISCIPLE Bible Study programme, and often that’s the response we get. Yet, hundreds in Singapore sign up every year, and thousands across the region.
The fundamental reason is that DISCIPLE is a course of study that is impactful and life changing – no one completes DISCIPLE without experiencing a touch from God!
Want to read the Bible cover to cover, but run out of steam?
So you planned to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Terrific idea. You started out, but you then ran out of steam. Do this with DISCIPLE, and you’ll find you’ll want to keep up your reading, as it’s the lively group discussions each week that is one of this programme’s trademarks.
No question is too dumb or taboo
At the weekly group sessions, participants watch a video of a recognised scholar speaking about the week’s Scripture readings. Then come the discussions, which are guided by trained Disciple Agency facilitators. Here, everyone’s free to ask any question – no question is too dumb, or taboo.
That’s because DISCIPLE believes that Scripture speaks to each of us differently. Our interpretations are not restricted – our views are not confined to a “bird-cage”, but instead are encouraged to be free and wide-ranging, though it’s not “open skies and anything goes”. There is a wide scope for all viewpoints.
Mrs Tan Heem Juay, Christ Methodist Church: “I enjoyed the discussions, the sharing, the fellowship and learning from one another. The class was like an alternative care group and many friendships have been forged. Through it all, I have grown in my knowledge of the Word, of God and in my walk with Him.”
Guaranteed – know God much better through the Bible
In DISCIPLE 1, participants read 70 per cent of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in chronological order.
But they do not study for study’s sake. They study so that they can apply God’s Word to their lives. The Word of God is alive and active. It should stir us and convict us. The ultimate aim of DISCIPLE is for God’s Word to have an impact and transform lives.
Mrs Tan: “I learnt to be disciplined in the reading and study of God’s Word, picking up the Bible daily and asking God to speak to me, and expecting Him to do so.”
At the end of DISCIPLE, one will definitely be more biblically nourished. One will get to know God much better through the Bible – guaranteed. One will learn about oneself and where one’s strengths lie, in order to serve God better. And that’s why thousands commit themselves to DISCIPLE Bible Study every year in South-East and North Asia.
Mr Philip Oh, Wesley Methodist Church: “I enjoy reading the Bible much more, and find that God speaks in a different way, to different issues each time I read His LIVING Word. It is indeed LIVING!”
The DISCIPLE Bible Study series comprises four different modules:
• Becoming Disciples through Bible Study – covering 70 to 80 per cent of the Bible
• Into the Word, Into the World – Genesis, Exodus, Luke and Acts
• Remember Who You Are – Prophets and Letters of Paul
• Under the Tree of Life – The Writings (Books not in the Torah or Prophets), John and Revelation
If you’ve never participated in DISCIPLE Bible Study, give it a try. After all, thousands have benefitted, why not you?
He agreed with all the reasons I gave for not signing up for DISCIPLE
Mr Philip Oh, Wesley Methodist Church: “It was 12 years ago when the Rev Stanley Chua invited me to sign up for a 34-session intensive Bible study that would span one year. He emphasised that it was a significant time commitment – it required at least one hour of Bible study per day over six days in a week, followed by the group meeting and discussion.
Many reasons NOT to join came out of my mouth, which the Rev Chua listened to intently. He agreed with all the reasons given – then challenged me to take a step of faith, assuring me God would honour my commitment!
After some prayer and thinking time, I committed to the programme – together with 12 other guys, most with senior regional positions that required frequent travel. Mornings became extra early, and Monday evenings were always spent in church with my DISCIPLE ‘kakis’.
The change in routine in Year One was challenging, but from Year Two, it became easier and easier – to the extent that when there were no DISCIPLE classes, many of us had withdrawal symptoms!
One of the key issues many of us had was the apparent need to travel out of Singapore on a Sunday or a Monday. However, with the onset of DISCIPLE classes on Monday, many of us just prayed and told colleagues that we had to be in Singapore on Mondays. It was without doubt that God honoured our commitment to get into His Word, and we found ourselves in situations when colleagues would accept our non-availability on Mondays! Meetings in California only started on Wednesdays!
I then trained as a DISCIPLE facilitator after completing DISCIPLE 1, 2 and 3. For me, this was an easy transition – I had been so blessed by my participation in the early classes, that it was natural and easy for me to share this wonderful programme with others.”
This was the disciple-making programme I had been looking for!
The Rev Dr Niam Kai Huey, Director, Disciple Agency: “I was introduced to DISCIPLE in 1990 when the Rev Lily Caster conducted the first DISCIPLE Leaders’ Training in Singapore. I was thrilled and convinced with its philosophy, and soon after, I facilitated a group in my church. This was the disciple-making programme I had been looking for – and little did I know that it was but the beginning of a lifelong entrustment from the Lord for me to take it on since then!
More than two decades have passed, and I still consider myself privileged to play my little part in promoting DISCIPLE in Singapore and beyond. My life is transformed and my faith in the Lord and my love for Him has grown deeper as I study the Scripture year after year with different groups of fellow disciples of Jesus Christ.
Becoming Disciples through Bible Study. Yes, this is God’s chosen way, therefore, I will continue to follow the way.”
History of DISCIPLE
- March 1986 – Eighteen people in Flower Mound, Texas, committed to a dream of developing a Bible study for training Christian disciples. Together they shaped DISCIPLE: BECOMING DISCIPLES THROUGH BIBLE STUDY.
- July 1989 – A group gathered once again and took on the challenge of providing DISCIPLE: INTO THE WORD INTO THE WORLD – going deeper into the Word and out into the World.
- December 1992 – A third gathering took place. Congregations were ready to confront and be confronted by the hard words of the prophets: Recall your past and your roots – DISCIPLE: REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
- 2001 – the fourth study DISCIPLE: UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE was published. From Creation to the New Jerusalem – that was the promise and the vision.
DISCIPLE in Singapore
- 1990 – DISCIPLE Bible Study came to Singapore via the Rev Lily Castor, who led the very first DISCIPLE Leaders’ Training for a group of Methodist pastors.
- 1990-1992 – Bishop B. Wilke and his team launched the DISCIPLE Bible Study. Some trainers went to the United States of America (U.S.A.) to be certified at the Trainers’ Event.
- 1997 – The Disciple Task Force (later to become the Disciple Agency) was set up in Singapore.
- 2005 – The first-ever Trainers’ Event outside of the U.S.A. was held in Singapore and was attended by 60 trainers from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
- 2011 – We celebrated 20 years of DISCIPLE Bible Study in our region.
DISCIPLE in a Nutshell
• Methodist originated and developed
• An experiential learning process
• Comprehensive Bible learning through reading, video and discussion
• Encourages and fosters disciplined Bible reading
• Four modules covering the Bible twice over
• Each module lasts about eight months
• Session facilitation only by Disciple Agency trained facilitators
• Available in Mandarin
Need more information? Visit the Disciple Agency website at http://disciple.methodist.org.sg/ or www.cokesbury.com/disciple. Or email us at
The Rev David Gwee (back row, second from left), Chairman of the Executive Committee of Disciple Agency, at a recent DISCIPLE facilitators’ training. In the front row, second from right, is Mrs Tan Heem Juay.
Pictures courtesy of Disciple Agency