A HOME BIBLE STUDY After 14 months of building relationships, we floated the idea of a neighborhood family Bible study with our neighbor, April. She said she would love to have one, and she felt several others would be interested as well! April invited most of our neighbors (the most evangelistic unbeliever we ever saw), and we invited a few others. The response was overwhelming!
We began the study in September, when the “back-to-school spirit” was in the air. The whole family was invited. My sons, Joshua and Nicolas (ages 15 and 11 respectively) were given charge of the 3 to 12-year-olds upstairs in the boys’ room. They watched a Bible video, had the kids color a paper dealing with the same story, and then each child had to use Lego to build a scene from the video. My daughter Stephanie (age 14) took care of the babies upstairs in her room. Families showed up at 7, got the kids settled in, got tea or coffee and we began by 7:15. I told Josh to let the kids go at 8, to keep me from rambling, and to get the kids to bed on time. We usually had tea and pastry, and then everyone headed home.
SIMPLE HANDOUT I developed one-page handouts for each study. I began the first study with some core values:
- This Bible study is a tool, not a tradition, and we can end it whenever we want to
- Come casual, and come with the kids
- Most Bible learning in church is one-way lecture. We want to try and answer questions and talk about issues
- Everyone’s opinion is important and worth considering
- We will study the Bible just like we read letters – in a literal, grammatical and historical way, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise
Then I began, “This is a Bible. It has two divisions. Does anyone know what they are?” It was just that basic. Then I reviewed facts about the Bible and where it came from. April went home, called a relative in Indiana and read her the entire handout! A while later, we received a card from that friend telling us that we were the answer to 20 years of prayer that she had lifted to the Lord for April and her family.
WHAT A GROUP! We had an interesting mix of people from different theological grids, and we found tremendous joy in teaching the Bible to adults who had never heard the stories before! They interacted with each other, had lots of questions and at times gave the most hysterical answers! Some were right on the money; others were out there in left field and involved aliens, karma, and shivers.
I started in the Book of Genesis. The power of God, the creation, the fall of Satan, and responsibility and fall of mankind and the beginning of self-made religion are all in the first four chapters. Lisa is one of our committed learners. She is a Jewish friend who rescued our family when our car broke down on northbound Interstate 85 – just before the Bible study began. Genesis 3:22 says, “Behold, man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Lisa interrupts, “Like one of US? Who is US? Who else is God speaking to?” I responded that although God is one, there are also these strange little hints in Genesis that God is a plurality. Lisa was thinking.
Lisa often stayed afterward until midnight. She kept asking questions and once thanked us for giving her time to think through things. She has a very high view of God. She can’t see how Jesus could be God. I challenged her as to whether God could be in heaven and on earth at the same time. I showed her the bodily appearances of God in the Old Testament … a light went on. I read her the last part of Isaiah 52 and all of 53. She thought it was from one of the gospels. I turned my Bible around and showed her that it was from HER scriptures. Another light went on. She got chills. “Oooh, it must be the Holy Spirit!” she said, and we laughed.
EXPLAIN THE GOSPEL TO ME! Some of the others noticed Lisa staying and wondered if they could stay and ask questions. April said, “I have to admit, I always thought the gospel was just the whole Bible, so I’m a bit confused. Could you explain really slowly what the gospel is exactly?” We had already discussed the concept of sacrificial lambs when we talked about Cain and Abel – how God allowed our death penalty to be transferred to a substitute. I used a Strong’s Concordance as the record book of our sins and covered it with our sheepskin. The book was still there, just covered. “That’s atonement,” I said. Then, after explaining the need for a human substitute to fully remove the sin, I threw the sheepskin over the concordance, but slipped the concordance out of sight. Lisa interjected, “So with Jesus, the sin isn’t covered – it’s gone.” More lights went on. Two hours later they went home with a lot to think about.
CAN WE GET BAPTIZED? When you present the gospel in this non-confrontational way, and don’t press for a decision, be sure to listen for them to begin talking about baptism. In January, April asked if I could baptize their 10-year-old son, Zachary, since I was “a reverend, and all that.” I said “yeeaaah.” Then April said that she was thinking of getting baptized too. “Okaaayyy,” I said. Then Larry said, “Well, we just need to nail down where we are with God. Could you come over for dinner?” That Sunday afternoon, as we all cried, both Larry and April committed their lives to Christ.
In March, the doctors discovered that Andy had cancer. When his young bride had been killed at age 22, Andy had walked away from God for 25 years. The Lord had opened his heart at our Bible study, but Andy said he needed a mule kick to make him commit his life to Christ. Cancer was the kick, and he and his wife Jane, a former Roman Catholic, trusted Christ.
We finished the Book of Genesis in 31 studies by the end of July. During those ten months we had an average of 10 adults and 8 kids per week. Many expressed that the study was the highlight of their week. We have been thrilled to see our neighbors come to know Christ simply by studying the Book of Genesis.
THIS IS DISCIPLESHIP
Excerpt from “Fostering the Harvest” (an study guide for training in evangelism) by Biblical Ministries Worldwide. Available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2sB3bQR