In Moraga, California, a local church embarked on a profound journey to reach the lost people in its community. This case study explores the impactful strides of a church that recognized the importance of intentional discipleship and its ripple effect on individuals and the broader community.
Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church (MVPC) has many programs that attract people in the community. Certainly, these programs provide opportunities to share faith and bring people to Christ. But there hasn’t been a concerted effort to go into the community to evangelize and make disciples. With the notion of reaching the lost and building a strong foundation in Christ, the church sought innovative ways to engage its members.
A group of men gathered to learn about Discovery Bible Study (DBS) groups. After several meetings, one man decided it was time to just go do it. Within a few weeks a first DBS group was formed in the nearby country club. Having gained some experience, MVPC took a more organized approach to address this challenge. Alongside an Exponent Coach, they implemented a comprehensive discipleship program that encompassed relational evangelism, gathering of DBS groups, and mentoring relationships. The church aimed to create an environment where individuals could learn what the Bible says about God, people, and Jesus in a non-religious, non-theological environment. Initially, a member of MVPC facilitates rather than teaches the group. In the DBS format, people, guided by the Holy Spirit, read a scripture, discuss what they believe it says, what it means to them personally, then makes an “I will” statement—sets a goal for how they will incorporate what they learned into their daily lives by the next group gathering. (Link to DBS Introduction Video)
The first DBS group has added members and transitioned into a home church.
MVPC has supported an on-campus preschool for decades, and always wanted to reach the non-believing parents of children entrusted to the care of the school. It just never really happened. The leader of the DBS initiative met with the director of the preschool and developed a plan to serve coffee and donuts to parents and children every Wednesday morning as they dropped off their children. Using the tools provided by the Exponent Coach, the individuals engaged in spiritual conversations with many of the parents on these Wednesday mornings. Within a few months the first DBS group consisting of one believer, two men with Buddhist cultural backgrounds, and one man with Hindu cultural background, began to meet.
MVPC sponsors a group of women—Mom’s Council—who meet every Thursday morning. The group is large, 80+, with sub-groups of eight women organized around a table led by two of the women. Over the years many faithful lay teachers have provided excellent lessons on how to parent, how to transition from raising children to providing wisdom to adult children, and caring for those in the community. There was not, however, a methodology for evangelism and discipling non-believers in the group. Several Mom’s Council leaders who were trained by the Exponent Coach started taking fifteen other leaders through the course. The goal is to engage the women, table group by table group, in DBS.
MVPC has led over 150 senior high students annually on a mission trip to Mexico during their Spring Break. Several girls wanted to study the Bible after the 2022 trip. An Exponent Coach-trained facilitator started meeting with the girls and has been ever since. Two more DBS groups formed after the 2023 trip. With these thirteen students as examples of what’s possible, MVPC is now planning to emphasize DBS groups during its 2024 mission trip.
This disciple-making effort is operating on the margins of the church. It is not a “program” per se. DBS groups are formed. One or two members of the group decide to facilitate their own group, and their current facilitator assists in any way possible. Eventually, non-trained people will be able to form and facilitate new DBS groups, and the number of believers will multiply. That is Jesus’ model. Share the Gospel and the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of people, bring them to Jesus. Then they go out and share with others. MVPC is being sent out!
MVPC’s emphasis on reaching the lost in the East Bay and greater San Francisco Bay Area is creating a positive impact beyond its walls. MVPC leaders are organizing other churches and groups in the community, asking them to join in learning how to reach the lost—setting aside concerns for individual church growth. By working together, guided by prayer, MVPC believes a movement will form across the region.
The journey of MVPC serves as an inspiring example of the transformative power of intentional discipleship. By focusing on nurturing faith through meaningful engagement, mentorship, and practical application, the church has successfully strengthened the spiritual foundation of several of its members while fostering a sense of urgency to reach the community. Local faith communities can have a profoundly positive impact on individuals and their surroundings when they commit to fostering genuine connections and holistic growth.