The Mailbag: What Are DNA Discipleship Groups?



Do you have any information on DNA (Discover, Nurture, Act) groups?

DNA groups are an accountability partner discipleship program for church members developed by Soma, a nationwide network of Reformed, gospel-centered churches. The groups usually consist of three women or three men. Groups normally meet weekly for ninety minutes to discuss the events of life and how Scripture and the gospel apply, what they’ve been learning in their personal Bible study time, and any incidents requiring repentance. The groups study Scripture together and pray with, and for, one another.

You can download and read the DNA program manual here. A couple of excerpts that help explain the program:



The DNA group concept seems like a doctrinally solid discipleship program. It demonstrates intentionality in building disciples. It is centered on the gospel, Scripture, prayer, and repentance. It encourages church members to sharpen one another and bear one another’s burdens.

A few minor things jumped out at me that I think it would be helpful for Soma to tweak and clarify just a bit.

  • Several times, the phrase “listen to the Holy Spirit,” or something similar, is used. At first, this concerned me because this is the type of language used in contemplative prayer and New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. Reading the document in context, however, it is clear that this is not what Soma is referring to, but, rather, being led by the Holy Spirit and hearing Him speak through Scripture.
  • “Pubs” (in addition to other venues) are mentioned a couple of times as meeting places for DNA groups. I’m not aware of any definition of the word “pub” other than “bar.” If “pub” is a new slang word for coffee house, or something, it would be helpful to clarify that. If by “pub” they actually mean a bar, I would personally not endorse a discipleship group (or any individual Christian or group of Christians) meeting in a bar.
  • Evangelism is presented as “telling your story with Jesus as the hero.” It can sometimes be helpful when evangelizing to share your story of salvation, and the manual describes a way to do this which is biblically correct (emphasis on your sin and your need for a Savior, etc.). However, I think Scripture bears out that a law/gospel presentation is the primary way the gospel should be proclaimed and that “our story” should mainly be used as a supplement or addendum. That being said, every Christian should be able to verbally and cogently explain how she was saved, and the manual does show the biblical way to do this.
  • One of the steps in forming a DNA group is to “read and discuss The Story of God Summary.” The Story of God Summary (included in the manual) is basically an overview of the narrative of Scripture from Creation through the establishment of the church, and the promise of Christ’s return. I understand it would be impossible to read the entire Bible and discuss it in one or two sessions as a step in setting up a DNA group (thus, the summary), but I’m uncomfortable with the fact that – while the summary is biblically accurate – no actual Scripture is cited. I think it would be beneficial to add in some acutal passages of Scripture to flesh out the main points of the summary.

Overall, from what I’ve seen “on paper” this looks like a discipleship model that I would have no trouble recommending. I would encourage anyone interested to read the manual for further details.

If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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