One of the most natural and effective places to share the good news, from the life of Jesus until now, has been the home. In an increasingly non-Christian society, the Jesus follower will become friends with and evangelize people where his Lord did, in the home and in the marketplace. Jesus and Paul both used home studies often.
The Evangelistic Bible Study Goal
Our goal is to teach the unsaved, win them to Christ, start them toward healthy discipleship, and fully integrate them into the life of church. Our confidence is in the Lord, his Word and prayer, not the method. This is simply one way to help lost people hear his Word.
The Evangelistic Bible Study Benefits
- They occur on neutral territory that is comfortable to the unsaved.
- They encourage dialogue, which is necessary for changing a worldview.
- They communicate the love of God practically.
- They communicate the Gospel clearly, simply, comprehensively and naturally.
- People are saved, and they come to faith partially grounded.
- New believers accept Scripture as their authority.
- They naturally and powerfully make evangelism a team ministry.
The Evangelistic Bible Study Team
A successful evangelistic Bible study is a team activity. Team members include a host or hostess, a teacher, one Christian single or couple, and several others who will join the team in prayer but not attend the study. It is critical that few believers be present as they tend to innocently and unknowingly control the discussions.
The most significant person in an evangelistic Bible study may be the host or hostess. They usually create the atmosphere. They are the driving force behind the study and the ones primarily responsible for getting others involved. An effective host has
- The ability to make people feel at home and secure
- Healthy relationships with lost people
- One who can learn and use the names of attendees
- An excellent listener and a good conversation starter
- Sensitive to peoples felt needs: temperature, ventilation, lighting
- Clarity on the purpose of the study
- An ability to focus on belief rather than behavior
The teacher is also significant. He must be simple, clear, relational, very illustrative and non-defensive. He or she must be able to encourage questions and interaction and not stand on his soapbox. The evangelistic Bible study teacher must also respect the belief systems of others (remember Paul in Athens?). He or she will use these beliefs to create a bridge to the lost person’s heart. The teacher will never make fun of or reject the beliefs of the unsaved, but rather use them as avenues for study. For instance, when challenged about evolution, he might say something like, “Well I’m not an evolutionist but I understand the position. I am a creationist. And this is very interesting because both are faith systems. Why don’t we talk about the object of our faith?”
Effective evangelistic Bible studies build around personal, felt needs. All men want a return on their investments, so study subjects that interest them. It’s always a great idea to survey your lost friends and see what they would like to study. Some examples that lost people have asked to study include:
- The family
- Husband-wife submission
- Creation and evolution
- Why Christians are so judgmental
- Child raising
- How the Bible fits together
- Why is there so much evil in the world?
- The Gospel of John
- What does the Bible say about the future?
- What is the Rapture?
- Why are there so many denominations?
You can easily see how these can whet the appetite of a lost person if properly done.
Team members must remember never to press an unsaved person for a decision and never to rush them to trust Christ. In the book of Acts, you discover that lost persons always ask the believers what they should do to be saved. The preachers of Acts never pressed nor did they give up at the first sign of resistance. When the Holy Spirit is drawing a lost person to the Lord Jesus Christ, she will want to know what to do.
What about Christians at the study? They should always be in a minority role. The studies are aimed at the lost, and all believers present should serve in a supportive role. They are there to help provide a relaxed atmosphere, initiate conversation and help the host or hostess. Christians should only rarely answer questions and should be warned to keep their opinions and “informed” questions to themselves. Remember, this is not for the growth of believers but to reach the lost. Christian attendees must avoid such things as
- Religious clichés or terminology such as born again, saved, sanctification, etc.
- Criticism of other groups or denominations
- Correcting doctrinal errors or wrong answers
- Going to cross references
Written by: Rick Oglesby