Mission Possible: Home Bible Study as Christian Outreach
My wife and I began attending a home Bible study about six weeks ago. My next-door neighbor invited us to attend. The first few times he asked us we said ‘no’, but finally we agreed. It’s really interesting! We never knew there was so much to learn about God and the Bible. The other people who attend are really nice. Sherry and I attended Sunday School when we were children, but we really didn’t know much about God except what we learned on TV and in conversations with friends who were Christians.
Have you or your congregation considered using a home Bible study to reach out to the unchurched, those who have fallen away from the church, and to motivate and strengthen those who are lukewarm about faith issues? Home Bible study can meet many needs.
Home Bible Studies are Biblical!
Home Bible studies are biblical. Early Christians met regularly in homes to minister to each other and grow together through the study of God’s Word. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46) Home Bible studies foster fellowship, encourage spiritual growth and offer a non-threatening form of witnessing in a comfortable, relaxed, caring atmosphere. Early Christians met regularly in homes to minister and grow together. So can we!
Leaders and their Responsibilities
Finding qualified leaders can be challenging. The pastor and other church leaders should prayerfully consider who to invite to be the home Bible study coordinator and home Bible study leaders.
The home Bible study coordinator, usually a volunteer, will work with the pastor, the Board of Evangelism, and the Board of Education. The coordinator should have a love for God’s Word, desire to help others grow in their knowledge of God’s Word, and the ability to organize people and projects (the gift of administration).
Finding leaders for Bible studies can often be difficult. Begin with prayer. Leaders should not be new Christians. They should be grounded in the Word and committed to praying for the Lord’s guidance as they lead. It is helpful if they have the gift of teaching. Once they have agreed to lead a home Bible study, offer training. Encourage leaders to ask for the pastor’s assistance when problems or questions arise.
Our program found it helpful to have a host for each home Bible study. Hosts open their homes for the Bible study. These individuals or couples should be reliable, not prone to cancel unnecessarily. Sometimes the leader is also the host, but doing this puts a large responsibility on one individual or family. We encouraged leaders to find someone else to host the Bible study.
Some home Bible studies move from house to house. This may cause confusion when an individual misses a Bible study session. We found it was better to hold all the studies at the same home-especially when the home Bible study is intended as outreach.
Whom to Invite?
It is important that each group include at least two mature Christians or couples, besides the leader. We found it best not to invite more than one or two unchurched individuals to the study. Don’t know where to find unchurched individuals? Invite unchurched friends of members, your own neighbors, and members who have spouses who do not attend church. Also invite those who visit your congregation and members who used to attend church, but have fallen away. It is also wise to put individuals/couples with similar interest or with the same age children into groups together.
The first time the home Bible study meets, allow the individuals in attendance to decide what day suits their needs, how often they want to meet and what topic they would like to study. Some may want to meet weekly, others twice a month.
If you are meeting on a weeknight or Sunday evening, be sensitive to the fact that individuals have to go to work the next morning. Our group met at 7:00 p.m. About 7:15 we opened with a prayer and began the Bible study. At 8:15 we would have prayer time and then end the time with a snack and additional fellowship. Some groups prefer not to serve snacks.
Groups will want to spend time each session in prayer. We recorded our prayer requests. This allowed us to see how God answered our prayers. Pray for one another, and encourage one another in the faith (James 5:16),
Encourage participants to invite others to join the group. Some groups always leave an empty chair as a reminder that the Lord is with them and there is room for others to learn of God and His Word.
Home Bible studies can be effective evangelism tools. They allow members to grow and learn to know Jesus better as their Savior. They provide opportunities to witness to those who may not believe in Christ. Participants share together in a loving, relaxed, concerned atmosphere. Personal testimonies of how the Lord has worked in lives are often heard. Participants relate the truths of the Bible in their lives today.
Home Bible studies should grow, divide and multiply. Because of the friendships that develop, groups may be reluctant to change. One of the ways we overcame this problem was to have fellowship activities where all the groups were invited to meet together. Home Bible study groups were asked to take turns coordinating a quarterly fellowship activity. Fellowship nights might include potluck, volleyball game nights, a family event, a square dance or a service project. Fellowship nights were also used to promote the home Bible studies to church members.
Encourage Witnessing and Share the Gospel
Home Bible studies give you a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel in a non-threatening environment. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation. Let’s use it! Why not consider getting your congregation involved in a home Bible study program? You’ll be glad you did!
Suggestions for Discussion Leaders
* Don’t ask people to read out loud. Many individuals feel insecure when reading aloud. Ask instead, “Who would like to read the next verse?”
* Give participants plenty of time to look up Bible passages. Don’t rush them.
* Give the page number when you observe someone struggling to find a passage. Often people new to Bible study are embarrassed when they can’t find a specific book of the Bible.
* Be sensitive to needs.
* Don’t monopolize the conversation.
The above article, “Mission Possible: Home Bible study as Christian Outreach” is written by Kay Meyer. The article was excerpted from: www.lwml.org web site. February 2011.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.