Evangelism: The Home Bible Study Ministry
By: Tim Massengale
Without a doubt, home Bible study programs such as Search For Truth, Exploring God’s Word, and others, have been the greatest “tool” of evangelism in recent times. Thousands have been brought to the saving knowledge of Truth in the comfort of their own home by an individual with a burden, a Bible, and a Bible study chart. Entire churches have been raised up through this one outreach method alone. Because of its effectiveness, it is imperative that every church try to establish an ongoing Home Bible Study Ministry within their local assembly.
For too long our philosophy of evangelism has been askew with the New Testament pattern. Our strategy has been “come hear.” We invite people to Sunday School to “come hear” the lesson. We invite people to church services to “come hear” the preaching. We invite people to revivals to “come hear” the evangelist. But the commandment of Acts 1:8 didn’t tell us to tell the world “come hear.” The New Testament pattern was “go tell.” Gil Stricklin once remarked that inviting people to church is like “making a set appointment between the fish and the fisherman.” Few fish will “bite” that kind of approach.
Home Bible Study works!
“Oh, but it doesn’t work in my area,” your say? Those that claim such an excuse do not truly realize what they are saying. To state that the home Bible study ministry does not work is to say that the Word of God does not work, for that is all a home Bible study is!
Anyone can teach one!
“But I can’t get my people to teach one,” you reply? Have you truly put the time, effort, and money needful to train and motivate your people in this most productive of ministries? Yes, there are other ministries you could, and perhaps should, promote (visitor follow-up is one of them). But no other ministry will bring you more solid, lasting results than will the home Bible study ministry. The following suggestions will help you not only start a dynamic Bible study ministry, but will also allow you to maintain it on a continuous basis:
1. Every church should plan to set aside a week each year to bring in an outside speaker to promote and push their Home Bible Study ministry. This might be an evangelist who has successfully taught H.B.S. seminars in the past or a pastor who has an effective H.B.S. ministry in his church. The subjects covered during this week should include:
– Why Home Bible Study works
– How to get a Home Bible Study Yourself
– How to teach a Home Bible Study Effectively
– How to Win Your Bible Study to the Lord
– and others
This type of annual seminar will do two things: first, it will respark, the excitement of using H.B.S. as a tool of winning the lost, and second, it will train your new converts and motivate them to become involved. The importance of such an annual seminar cannot be stressed strongly enough. (Note – if you do not currently have a Home Bible Study ministry active in your church, this is the best way to start one). This annual “shot in the arm” will help reaffirm to the church your commitment to the Bible study ministry, as well as keep the ministry alive and exciting.
2. Immediately following your annual seminar, designate the following month as, “Home Bible Study Emphasis Month.” During the next thirty days, the excitement and enthusiasm for home Bible study will be at its peak. Plan to promote involvement in the Bible Study ministry in every service. Use various methods to motivate people to become involved such as: Setting goals, team competition, posting the names of all who are involved, additional training, and so on. Everyone should try to become involved in some way. There is more ways to be involved in this ministry than just teach. You can also:
a. Assist – accompany and help an experienced teacher.
b. Host – talk to friends and set up study for another to teach.
c. Baby sit – for children of the teacher, student, or both.
d. Sponsor – provide money for charts, materials, gas money, etc. for those who can’t afford it.
e. Prayer Partner – pray for a study each week at the same time it’s being taught.
This type of strong, intensive promotion is very effectively for one month. It builds up a momentum that will last for much of the year – so pull out all stops!
3. For a Home Bible Study ministry to be effective, the pastor himself must become continually involved. If his time will not allow a ten week study, use the two lesson study by Larry Smith, “Rightly Dividing the Word,” or the one lesson study by Kirk Bates / Al Gossan, “Into His Marvelous LIGHT.” The pastor needs to be able to get up and tell about the Bible Study he is teaching and the souls he has won. This is especially true in a smaller church. If a pastor uses the excuse that he is “too busy” to teach Bible studies, he can expect his people to use the same excuse.
4. Make Home Bible Study a separate department with its own director, apart from Visitor Follow-up. If done correctly, both Home Bible Study and Visitor Follow-up are major responsibilities. If one person is over both, one or the other will go lacking. Don’t put too much else under this individual. Home Bible Study is a very big job and requires much time and effort.
5. The Home Bible Study director needs to realize that a successful H.B.S. ministry is 70% promotion. Flyers, posters, pulpit announcements, bulletins, skits, film strips, etc., should be used –
not to get studies, but to get teachers! The best way to obtain studies is for the teachers to get their own. Handing a study to a teacher is not a good practice. When a teacher obtains their own
study, they have more of a burden to follow through and be faithful to it. If they have trouble finding their own study, one Saturday with the Quest Survey will supply them with several!
6. It will be important to have at least three more training sessions after the big annual “special speaker” seminar. These should be taught by the pastor (preferably) or the Home Bible Study Director (if he is capable). Notice we used the word “training.” Training is different from just teaching. You can teach without training, but you cannot train someone without teaching them. Teaching is to impart information. Training is to apply that teaching in a practical manor. A good H.B.S. training seminar consists of four parts:
a. Instruction – practical information on how and why. Do not teach the study to them. Teach them how to teach. This part should only be 2-3 lessons long.
b. Demonstration – showing step-by-step in a simulated session once or twice. Then, allow them to assist another teacher in a study or to at least observe three or four live lessons.
c. Involvement – letting the students teach it themselves to each other, to a new convert, or to a sinner. An experienced teacher should go along for the first three or four lessons.
d. Evaluation – The experienced teacher should evaluate the student, stressing the good points, as well as those areas needing improvement.
These three training seminars should be taught three to four months apart, beginning several months after the big annual seminar. All teachers and interested beginners should be required to attend. The entire training seminar should be only three to five nights long. Again, do not teach the study to them! If they wish to go through a study first before teaching their own, have them assist in a study that is currently in progress or beginning. Suggested training materials:
a. “How to teach a Home Bible Study” ABC series – lesson #28, Search for Truth Publications, Houston, TX (713) 944-0371.
b. “Spiritual Reproduction through Home Bible Study” by Jack Yonts, Home Missions Department, Hazelwood, MO (314) 837-7300.
c. “Spiritual Reproduction” Filmstrip and tape, Home Missions Department
d. “Giving And Getting Home Bible Studies” manual and tape by Al Gossan, Tampa, FL (813) 968-4133
e. “Home Bible Study Training Seminar” manual and tapes by Scott Carley, Odessa, TX (915) 366-8438
f. “How To Get A Home Bible Study” tape number one, by Larry Smith, El Campo, TX
7. Your annual and quarterly Home Bible Study goals will come from the Church Growth Spiral. These quarterly goals should be divided into three monthly goals. Each month, 15-20 minutes should be given on a major service night to promote the home Bible study ministry. If you reached last month’s goal, rejoice! If you fell short, encourage. Keep this monthly promotion positive in nature. Use such promotional methods as:
– Testimonies – both from teachers and students.
– Skits – how to not get a study, how to properly get a study, etc.
– Theme song – ask your music director to write one.
– Student Graduation Certificates – those that complete a study.
– Teacher Graduation Certificates – those that complete the training.
– Phone call – live “promo” over P.A. system from noted H.B.S pastor.
– Demo lesson drama – make platform look like a home, teach “family.”
– Quarterly Newsletter – news, tips, results, teachers, sales, etc.
– Contests – divide church into teams – points for involvement, etc.
– Buttons – “I Got One!”/”Ask Me About A H.B.S.”/”I’m A H.B.S. teacher”
– Annual Slide Presentation – of all who were won (tell their story).
– Posters, Banners, Bulletin Boards, Fliers, etc.
Plan your time well! Make this monthly promotion special!
8. The Home Bible Study Director should keep good records on both his teachers and students. Knowing the number of new studies started and the number of studies completed each month is important. You should also know your “percent of drop” rate (quit before the study was completed). If a lot of studies are dropping, it shows poor teaching methods and additional training is needed.
9. The Home Bible Study director must contact his instructors that have a Bible Study in progress every week (they will almost never contact you). This helps encourage faithfulness and provides moral support. You may see them at church or call them by phone. Use the “H.B.S. Weekly Report” provided at the end of this section for this purpose. The pastor should get a copy of this form each week. This will help him know how to promote H.B.S. himself. The pastor is the best means of promotion within the church. What he pushes, goes.
10. It is good if the H.B.S. Director will put together “Home Bible Study Packets.” In this packet, include the lesson leaflets, the five recommended tracts (Salvation, The First Church, New Testament Timeline, Wheel of Prophecy, Why God Chose Tongues, and The Water Baptism According to Bible and History (see Home Missions Department for all five) and a Student – Teacher information form. Putting all this in a “9 x 6 inch” envelope will help you coordinate your supplies.
11. The Bible Study Director should have ample supplies on hand of charts, books, mini-charts, tracts, and other needed material. When sales are offered on materials, the church should stock up.
12. The Bible Study Director should work diligently to obtain studies from many sources.
a) Visitor Follow-up: This will supply you with a large number of studies if done properly.
b) “Open Your Home” Method: Tell the church that if they will open their home, fix the coffee, and invite their unsaved friends, you will provide the teacher.
c) Annual Fair Booth: A booth at the county fair exhibit hall has been effective in many cases. Make your display attractive and have a free drawing.
d) Bus Ministry Parents: Using the “Parentreach” method of bus ministry (explained in another section of this chapter) will provide many studies.
e) Quest Survey: Any teacher that cannot find a study can easily get one with the Quest Survey. Use the “Quest Survey Form” provided at the end of this section and follow the accompanying instructions. Train your teachers first and plan to go out as a group on a Saturday morning. Two hours of Saturday door knocking in a “lower-middle class” neighborhood between 10 a.m. and noon will give them all a Bible Study. Note: The only people using the Quest Survey should be those willing to teach the Bible studies they get. If a person isn’t willing to teach, they should not be going.
f) Five-Souls I’m Believing God To Get A Bible Study With: This method is very successful and works from the “oikos” concept of evangelism (reaching family, friends and neighbors). Pass the slips (provided at the end of this section) out to all your people on Sunday morning. Ask them to think of five people they know who are hungry for God, then write the names down. Sunday night, take up prayer and fasting pledges. Have them pray and fast for those five names for one week. The following Sunday all should come to the front and pledge to ask all five for a Bible Study that week. Anoint them, lay hands on them, and send them out. By doing this, most will have two or more accept a study. Use this in conjunction with method “b.” Focused prayer and fasting truly works.
g) Many other methods – newspaper ads, direct mail, telephone canvassing, and so on. Use whatever works. For additional suggestions, contact Pastor Daniel E. Stratton, Greensborro, NC, for a booklet entitled “How To Get More Home Bible Studies Than You Can Teach.” But remember, the best results will always come from friends winning friends. You must win a friend before you can win a soul!
13. The H.B.S. director should plan an annual Home Bible Study Appreciation Banquet each year. Give out awards for the most Bible Studies taught, most souls won, largest family brought in, largest number in attendance, and so on. “Crazy” awards provide humor also: longest running Bible Study, oldest and youngest teacher, strangest location to teach a Bible Study, and so on. Make it fun and exciting. To be a part of the Home Bible Study team should be the greatest privilege in the world.
14. God bless you and good luck!
In his well known book, Life Is Tremendous, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones tells of how he first became a world-class salesman. During his first years selling insurance, he broke all records by maintaining a “consecutive weekly selling” for over five years. What this meant was that he never missed a week in selling at least one policy. Many weeks he sold more. But he made a commitment with himself that he would always sell at least one. Sounds impressive – however, it wasn’t exactly the whole truth.
The whole truth was that he vowed he would sell a policy a week or buy one himself! After he bought 22 policies, he really began to get motivated. He later looked back as said that it was that simple vow that was the greatest influence of his early career. It taught him the meaning of involvement, commitment, and persistence.
Pastor or Home Bible Study Director – if Mr. Jones could make such a commitment to sell insurance, why could we not do the same for souls? What if you made a commitment to start one new home Bible study in your church each week or you would go out and get one to teach yourself. Or if your church is larger, commit to starting two or three new Bible studies every week, or you will go get a new one yourself. After you are teaching six or eight studies a week, you might become motivated!
Motivation is the key. You must promote and encourage the Home Bible Study ministry strongly, consistently, and effectively. Too many pastors and H.B.S. directors get involved in Bible studies without being truly committed. Others seem to be committed, but will not become deeply involved. A few are committed and involved, but they lack the persistence needed to get the ministry rolling. To be effective, it takes all three.
WEEKLY HOME BIBLE STUDY REPORT
5 Souls that I’m Believing to get a HOME BIBLE STUDY with
“All things are possible to them that believeth” Mark 9:23
“My Word shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
QUEST INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH SURVEY
Hi! My name is ____________ and I’m from QUEST INTERNATIONAL. We are doing a public opinion survey on what people think about Religion here in the area. May I ask you a few questions? It will only take a few minutes.
1. Do you believe in GOD?_________ Do you consider yourself a CHRISTIAN?______________________________________________________________
2. Do you believe the Bible is GOD’S WORD?________ WHY?_________________
3. Do you think that God is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY & FOREVER (in other words, that God does not change?)_________________________________
4. God used and dealt with people in very great ways in the Old and New Testaments. Do you feel He is still USING & DEALING with folks today?__________________________________________________________________
5. The Bible says that in the LAST DAYS God will poor out His Spirit upon all flesh. Do you feel that we are in the LAST DAYS?________ Do you feel that the Lord is pouring His HOLY SPIRIT upon all who want it today?__________________________________________________________________
6. Do you believe in DIVINE MIRACLES today?_________ WHY?_______________
7. Do you believe in DIVINE HEALING for today?________________ Again,
8. Society today faces many problems. Do you believe that if someone WISHED God to, He could deliver them the addiction of: Alcohol__________
Drugs_________ Smoking________ Depression__________ Sin?________________
9. The Bible says we must all stand before the Judgement Seat of God. Are you certain that if the Lord came today, you would be ready to meet Him? ___________________________________________________________________
10. Have you ever felt a desire to know MORE of God’s Word and what His will is for YOUR life?__________ WHY?___________________________________
That is the end of the QUEST survey. I thank you VERY much for your cooperation. By the way, QUEST is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people know more about the Bible. They are offering the folks in this area the opportunity to have a free Bible Study course right in their own homes. It is non-denominational, totally free, you will never be asked to join a church. It is simply QUESTS desire that everyone that wishes to know more of the Word of God, would have the opportunity to do so. Would you be interested in such a study?
**Trained Instructors** 10-Lessons**Approx. 4-5 Min. Long**
PHONE__________________ How many in household Approx. Age (You Estimate)
Have A Nice Day!!!
MAKING THE QUEST SURVEY WORK
A. Materials that you will need
1. Survey Forms.
2. Clipboard or binder and pen.
3. QUEST survey badge (Purchase from Home Missions Dept.).
4. Casual yet professional dress (Sport coat and no tie).
5. Prayer and HOLY GHOST BOLDNESS.
B. How to conduct a survey
1. Obtain a location from your QUEST director.
2. Remember: Results are in proportions to area income level.
3. Saturday Morning between 10:30 and 1:00 are best times.
4. Name and address is needed only if study is obtained.
5. Always SMILE! Act courteous regardless of response.
6. Do NOT argue on any answer. You are ONLY taking a survey.
7. Leave a Bible Study flyer at every home.
8. Plan to spend at least 2 hours in ACTUAL DOOR KNOCKING. Don’t let the devil tell you it’s a “bad area”. No such thing!
C. How to give the survey
1. Memorize the introductory statement.
2. All capitalized words should be emphasized with a “pause” before saying.
3. Read and speak s-l-o-w-l-y!
4. Look them in the eye on question “10.”
5. Memorize (as best as possible) the conclusion, especially what is in bold & italics.
6. If they hesitate in giving an answer, “sell it” a bit.