How a Doodle on an IHOP Napkin Turned Into a Full-Fledged Discipleship Method That's Changing Lives

(Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash)

Songwriters sometimes jot down lyrics on restaurant napkins. One South Carolina pastor had a similar idea as he doodled his way to disciple-making after answering a young believer's questions about the book of Romans over breakfast. Pastor Matt Rogers came up with the "Seven Arrows" study method on an IHOP napkin.

After meeting with Garrett, who was in his 20s, Rogers could see that as someone new to the faith, Garrett was "confusing himself" and that he needed a way to "ask good questions of the biblical text." Rogers came up with a "sticky tool" that was memorable to help believers accurately understand the Scriptures and how the passage applied to them personally, in their horizontal relationships with others and in their vertical relationship with God.

This simple study method took the mystery out of Bible study and led to the creation of the CSB Seven Arrows Bible ( and book Seven Arrows: Aiming Bible Readers in the Right Direction, with his co-author and editor, Donny Matthis.

Some of the seven questions are: What does this passage say? What does this passage demand of me? How does this passage change the way I relate to people? How does this passage prompt me to pray to God?

Rogers needed help in discipling those coming to faith and being baptized in his 10-year-old congregation, but he also wanted his church members to have that legacy of faith. This study method has left the more mature believers in his church less intimidated by disciple-making. It also means the church isn't doing a disservice to new believers. Rogers said his church would give new believers a study Bible and basically "wish them well," but that wasn't enough to establish them in the faith.

"I was just increasingly convicted to take the Great Commission seriously," he said. "To teach people to obey all things Christ had commanded meant that I needed to really walk with them through the journey of growing in their faith, particularly to engage the Scriptures for themselves. And then I needed something that could help believers in our local church do the same as they were taking responsibility for the Great Commission themselves."

He also recognized his own responsibility for discipling the four children he and his wife, Sarah, have, and he believed the Seven Arrows method would be useful in the home. Parents want to help their children learn to read the Bible because they "recognize that their proximity to the Word of God is going to shape the trajectory of their life," Rogers said. "So I can count just myriads of families in our church who are using it as a disciple-making tool around the breakfast table or the dinner table to say not only 'Here's the Bible text,' but 'Here's how we study it.'"

Rogers, who is also a professor who teaches church planting, recently spoke about the CSB Seven Arrows Bible with host Chris Johnson on her Charisma Connection podcast. Listen to this special series on the Christian Standard Bible (CSB, translation, "Committed to God's Word," on the Charisma Podcast Network.

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