How to Initiate Bible Studies

Published on October 5, 2020 3:15:53 PM - Written by Robert Chambers

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  What was true 2000 years ago is still true today. There can be no doubt that the world needs to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ. Christianity offers hope to our troubled world and can bring peace, comfort and encouragement to struggling souls.  However, more evangelists are needed.

The message has been revealed, but how do we reach those who need to hear it?  How do we train more evangelists and then find people who are willing to study the Bible to learn more about Christianity?  Personal evangelism is a challenge that many Christians dread because it means engaging in spiritual discussions on a very personal level. Although meeting new people comes naturally for those with outgoing personalities, many others find it uncomfortable and intimidating. Fortunately, these are people skills that can be learned, but how does one develop those skills?  The first step is . . .  

. . . Overcoming the Fear of Meeting New People

Like any new undertaking - the more often you do it - the easier it becomes. But, where is the ideal place to practice meeting people you don’t know and do it in a safe atmosphere – among kind, forgiving people? The obvious answer is among your own Church family. If you are like most Christians, you regularly attend worship services in a congregation where you have a circle of close friends.  However, there are probably other members whom you do not know personally well.  Widening your sphere of relationships takes time, especially in a larger congregation, but this should be the goal. 

Therein lies the opportunity for personal growth in learning how to become comfortable meeting “strangers”.  It may be as simple as saying, “Hi, I don’t believe we have met.  My name is  ___________.”  That is all that is needed to get things started.  Their response will provide the lead to follow.  Questions like “How long have you attended?” or “Where are you from?” are natural opportunities to learn more and continue the dialogue. 

There are two things that can be done to build on those new relationships:  1) Make notes – write down the names and a few details about the new people you meet to help you remember what you have learned, and 2) Make an effort to speak to them again the following week and in the weeks beyond.  Each time you do, build on the prior conversations. For example, “What brought you here from Ohio?” Over time, you will discover things that you share in common, and your friendship will grow. As your circle of friends increases, you will become more and more comfortable interacting with new people.

Other Church opportunities arise when people go public with prayer requests or bulletin announcements. In those cases, you have the advantage of knowing the person’s name and needs in advance. An introduction and acknowledgment from you can not only build a new relationship, but it also can impart encouragement.  This nurtures your own spiritual growth and can be a source of great personal satisfaction in rendering comfort and aid to others.

Low Hanging Fruit - Weekly Evangelistic Opportunities

Christians assemble on the first day of the week to worship God, grow spiritually and enjoy fellowship with one another. Unfortunately, many members spend most of that time in the company of their family and closest friends. By human nature, we tend to stay in our own comfort zones, instead of reaching out to meet “strangers” and make new acquaintances. This is a missed opportunity and a failure that can lead to the reputation of being an unfriendly congregation.

In fact, most congregations have visitors who show up for worship services. Perhaps these are travelers passing through, but sometimes they are people looking for a Church home or wanting to see what the Church is all about. These folks often are seated in the rear of the auditorium or back of the class where they can depart quickly if they feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. A friendly greeting and acknowledgement from an attentive Church member can have a huge impact.   

This is an excellent chance for members to gain experience meeting people who have already shown an interest in Christianity. Making them feel welcome and getting to know them better is showing God’s love and may lead naturally to a Bible study.  It is a perfect opportunity to teach by answering questions from those who want to learn more about the congregation, its beliefs and worship. This is what personal evangelism is all about.  

Often there are greeters in a congregation assigned to welcome guests and visitors.  Joining such teams is an excellent way to gain experience meeting more people.  Whether part of the official “greeters” or not, identifying and welcoming visitors should be a high priority among all Church members.  Unfortunately, it is not.  Can you imagine the impact of having dozens of members greet each and every visitor?  Bible studies would increase, the Church would grow and the reputation of the Lord’s congregation would flourish. 

Here are some things you can do:
  • Welcome visitors & see if they have attended services before
    • If not, ask: "Would you like to learn more about the Church?"
  • Distribute “Visitors’ Welcome Packets” & Bulletins 
  • Introduce them to other members
  • Try to sit with them
  • Take them to a Bible class & show them around the facility
  • Give them your personal contact information (perhaps on pre-printed cards)
  • Follow-up with them – invite them back
  • Nurture the contact/relationship

Helpful Suggestions for Initiating Bible Studies

A large part of the success in personal evangelism comes from recognizing opportunities and acting on them. To do that, we must raise our awareness. The following is a list of ideas and suggestions for ways to accomplish that.

The most important principles in building new relationships and initiating Bible studies

  • People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care
  • Prayer:  
    • Pray for God's help reaching the lost 
    • Pray for opportunities to teach and help people in need
    • Pray for wisdom, strength, patience, God's Blessings

Build on existing relationships

  • Visit family/friends in their homes & invite them into your home
  • Have a meal together
  • Look for areas of common interest & talk about those things
  • Watch for openings that lead to spiritual discussions
    • “I notice that you are wearing a cross.  Are you a Christian?”
    • “I see you have a Bible on your bookshelf.  Do you enjoy Bible studies?”
  • Let people see your faith – make it known 
    • Offer to pray for their needs/concerns
    • Pray before meals together
    • Invite them to attend Bible classes & worship services with you

Watch for individuals/families in crisis or undergoing life changing events

  • Things like experiencing death, sickness, auto accidents, personal struggles, new births
  • Initiate visits, encourage, send cards/emails/texts, pray together, nurture interactions
  • Offer to help:  babysitting, washing dishes/clothes, shopping, preparing meals
  • Welcome newcomers in the community

Follow-up with new converts

  • Harness the excitement of new Christians
  • Ask them: “Now whom do you know that needs to hear the Gospel?” 
    • Strike while the iron is hot
    • Offer to go with them to help lead a Bible study – be a mentor

When dining out in public - Pray before your meals

  • Ask your waitress/waiter if they have any prayer requests
  • Leave a note or card promoting the website at www.TheTruthTransforms.com on the table when you leave – the website offers many study resources

Be observant in public settings

  • While standing in line at the store, etc., ask people "How are you doing today?"
    • If they say ‘Great’, you can say “Me too - Isn’t God wonderful?  I feel so blessed.  Would you like to join me in thanking Him or attending a Bible study?”
    • If they say ‘Terrible’, you can say “I have been there too, but I’ve found that God can be a great help.  Would you like to learn more about how?”
  • Look for ways to inject God and religion into conversations  
    • For example, say:  “What a beautiful day God has given us!”
    • Gauge the reaction & turn it into a further discussion or an invitation to study or attend worship
  • Note subtle religious words or phrases people use and follow-up on them
    • Respond to a “God Bless you” uttered following a sneeze 
    • Perhaps say: “He already has in many ways!  How about you?  Would you like to hear how?”

Opportunities are there to reach people but often we don't recognize them

  • We must be alert & looking and listening for them
  • We must train ourselves to detect and react – this takes practice/experience
  • Having a second set of eyes & ears with you (e.g., spouse) increases awareness
  • When and if an opportunity is missed, learn from it and do a better job next time

When people you invite agree to attend congregational worship services or Bible classes

  • Make arrangements to meet and welcome them at the door
  • Give them a “Visitors’ Welcome Packet” & Church Bulletin
  • Introduce them to other members
  • Try to sit with them
  • Take them to Bible class & show them around the facility

Make the most of each opportunity

  • Purchase printed business cards providing some form of contact information along with a spiritual message or opportunity to study (e.g., promote the studies available at the website www.TheTruthTransforms.com)
    • Carry these cards with you at all times
    • Hand cards to those you talk to
    • Even though they may not attend worship or Bible classes - they might study through the website

Finally - do not get discouraged

  • Some people will not be interested in what the Bible has to say
    • That is their choice – based on the free will God has given to them
    • Pray for them
    • But, never allow that experience to keep you from continuing to do the right thing
  • As Christians, our obligation is to be evangelistic
    • Sharing the Good News of Jesus
    • Equipping people with the facts needed to make an informed decision
  • Ultimately, each person must decide for themselves what they will do with Jesus