(The following is a continuation of Rick Oglesby’s recommendations about conducting an evangelistic Bible study)
- An easily understandable Bible in the same edition for each person
- A handout or whiteboard or both
- The Holy Spirit: He brings clarity and conviction to the lost, and He empowers you
- Prayer: you and others will see God answer
Lay A Foundation for the Evangelistic Bible Study: Evangelistic Bible studies come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve done them from one on one all the way to a group of three believers and twenty-four lost persons. Smaller studies are probably with friends who already know you. But if you involve many folks, some of whom don’t know one another or the believers involved, here are some suggestions:
- Pray, asking God for specific people to invite
- Make a list of names
- Pray consistently for the people on your list
- Expect results
- Pray over your team
- Set a specific date and location
- Give at least four weeks lead time
- Avoid holidays
- Send or speak effective invitations
- Maybe have a coffee, potluck dinner, or lunch for people to meet
- Invite your friends in writing to that event
- At the event, let your friends know a future Bible study is the main intention.
- For coffee, lunch or dinner, invite two times the number you can handle.
- Follow up with a phone call two to three days before the meeting. You have not because you phone not.
- Never worry about the number who come – Jesus speaks to all size groups
- Expect cancellations from one half to two hours before the meeting — don’t be disappointed by these.
- Tell them that for the first study you would like to do an overview of the Bible and how it fits together – just to give everyone greater comfort. Ask if that would satisfy them. If acceptable, plan to do so.
- With group input, establish the date, time and place. With group input, determine what to do about children.
- Send a written invitation before the study. Follow it up with a phone call two –to three days prior to the study.
- The study should meet every week for at least 4 weeks, but let your context determine this. Take breaks for certain times of the year: Christmas and New Year, Spring break, summer vacation, etc.
Things to Do
- Have participants bring refreshments. They like to share the fun.
- Make people comfortable.
- Talk about things people are interested in before the study.
- Turn off the phone.
- The study team must mix with the lost people.
- Be sensitive to timid or turned-off people.
- Limit your Bible study to 45 or 60 minutes maximum. Start and finish on time.
- Encourage questions and interaction.
- Cover all material planned, even if you summarize.
- Love people; don’t force anything on them.
Things to Not Do
- Play Christian music or use Christian lingo.
- Talk about your church, berate or even discuss other religious groups.
- Talk with the other Christians.
Preparing the Study
- Pray, asking the Spirit to teach and lead you.
- Read through the passage several times.
- Prepare a handout with questions based on the passage, or have a white board.
Teaching the Study
- Pass out the same edition Bibles as needed.
- Give the page number.
- Give handouts with questions.
- Let people work in groups of 2-3 if possible.
- Introduce the topic. Give necessary background information on the passage.
- Give them time to examine the questions and the passage. Encourage discussion.
- Elicit their feedback. Use different techniques; drama, role-play, buzz groups.
- Stay in one chapter – don’t skip around the Bible.
- Use a white board or large pad to record people’s insights.
- Know your purpose and stick to it; don’t go off on rabbit trails.
Questions that Stimulate Discussion
- What does the verse/passage tell us about Jesus?
- What does the verse/passage tell us about us?
- What does the verse/passage tell us about the main characters?
- How do you think you could apply this passage?
- Can any of you identify with this person?
- Have you had any experience similar to this?
Handling Wrong Answers to Questions
- Don’t embarrass the person by saying, “No, that’s incorrect.” If any part of the answer is right, mention that to encourage the person who answered.
- You might say, “I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
- Sometimes restating the question in different words may help clarify it.
- Recognize every comment. Call the person by name – “Good thought Ryesa, but not exactly what I was asking. Let me try again.”
Handling Questions That You Can’t Answer
- “I don’t know, but I will find out!” Ask if the group has any ideas.
- Don’t argue!
- Perhaps ask the group to think about the answer before next study.
Follow Up the Study
- Spend some more time visiting after the study
- Elicit feedback from participants.
- Be prepared to share the gospel if the opportunity arises.
- Phone participants
- Send notes or cards
- Meet some participants for breakfast, lunch or supper.
Everyone does evangelistic Bible studies similarly but distinctly. The materials above are suggestions. Ask those with experience to share their preferences. When you design your own, make it fit your personality, your goal, and the audience. Some groups are well educated whereas others find it hard to read. The Spirit will direct you, so go for it!