Spiritual Reproduction Through the Home Bible Study
By J. E. Yonts
The Word of God
If there is anything that we have underestimated, it is the Word of God. It is often difficult for us to realize that resident in the Scriptures are decisive answers to modern problems, spiritual power to overcome obstacles, and the flowing spring of new life. We have depended on many things. We have tried many things, but we have often failed to believe that the Word of God will not come back void.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
End-time developments demand that we re-establish our faith in God’s Word. In recent years much attention has been given to the growth of the small church. However, the method of teaching God’s Word employed by the Apostles produces growth for both the large and small churches. It will work anywhere. There are no magic wands to soul winning. There are no magic words.
There are no magic people. There really are no magic methods to build a church. Soul winning comes from the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. As the matter of planting is necessary to any harvest, so is the instilling of the Word of God via a Home Bible Study is important to successful soul winning.
The Law of Minimal Returns
Tremendous energies and expenses are often expended with little or no results. Various methods of outreach have been tried in most churches. Small returns from these investments have caused much disappointment and discouragement. As a result, some churches have stalemated in growth and some pastors have resigned and moved on. How many times have small churches gone beyond their financial means in an effort to reach their city? Money has often been spent on billboards, flyers, newspaper ads, radio spots.
Great plans have been carefully made. Weeks of preparation have been involved. In spite of these commendable efforts, lasting results are sometimes minimal and the church soon falls back to the same small number in Sunday school.
The intention of these observations is not to criticize any past efforts but to emphasize that there is a biblical plan to reach the lost that is simple and workable. It is recognized that many churches have gone the circuit of four or five methods of outreach and still find a lot of empty pews.
Methods that seem to work for someone else, somehow, may not work for you. How disheartening to end a “great drive” and not be able to report any positive results! This kind of despair cannot be laughed away. It can’t be sung away. It can’t even be prayed away. The only remedy that will erase the aching heart is an altar filled with sinners who are weeping, repenting, praying for forgiveness.
Work Your Plan
No plan will succeed without consistent work. A very overweight person complained to me that a certain diet would not work. She said, “The thing doesn’t work. I bought the diet. I ate the whole box and never lost a pound.” Most things will only work if you work them. If you are succeeding with your present method of outreach, you should intensify it, enlarge upon it, and proceed. Time is of essence; if we are to reach our generation we must hurry. Something must produce results.
Lost souls are everywhere. This fact has inspired a great variety of outreach methods. It has been my personal experience to try most of these. Some of these are as follows:
1. Home prayer meetings
2. Street services
3. Tract ministry
4. Coffee house
5. Park services
6. Bus ministry
7. Door to door invitations
8. Advertising on the street with a young man in a devil suit
9. Attending evangelical meetings and passing out literature on true Bible salvation.
10. Radio broadcasts
11. Newspaper ads and flyers
These outreaches have all produced some results. A true inventory, however, will often show that lasting results were painfully small; our past outreaches established few converts. Combine the total hours of time, the dollars spent, the agony in prayer, and the energies used, the returns on these investments have been disappointingly low.
* There must be a better way.
* There must be a biblical way.
* There must be a faster way to reach people and bring them from their world to our world. An entire generation is almost totally lost.
Profit and Loss
Every successful businessman records an inventory at least once a year. It is important to take an honest evaluation of profits and losses. Would it not be proper for us to find out the important aspects related to what we are doing? Listed below are some pertinent questions which may shed some light on the total picture of outreach evangelism.
1. How many souls were born again in your church in the last twelve months?
2. Of the new ones, how many are still overcoming Christians?
3. Through what outreach did each one find the Lord?
4. How many of them that started failed?
5. Of those that failed, what type of outreach brought them in?
6. Of those who remained, what type of outreach was successful in bringing them in?
7. What is our most productive outreach?
8. What is our least productive outreach?
9. What is our most expensive outreach?
10. What is our least expensive outreach?
11. What type of follow-up is used for new converts?
An honest answer to searching questions such as these can be very enlightening. When we know where the best investments are to be made, it is only wise to invest heavily in these areas. It is a fact that churches that have used the method of Home Bible Studies consistently have also grown consistently.
We are commanded to Teach
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).
Some important questions must be asked at this point about the Lord’s commission.
* Do we believe this verse of Scripture?
* Did Jesus mean what He said?
* Did He give us an impossible task?
* Are we doing what He asked us to do?
* Is this commandment as important as Acts 2:38?
The Apostles Taught Home Bible Studies
“And daily in the temple, and in every house they ceased not to TEACH and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
The primitive Jerusalem church began at home and reached their world with the true gospel. In Acts 20:20, Paul declared, “I have taught you publicly and from house to house.” We should also note that by the 20th chapter of Acts, verse 26, Paul could say, “I am pure from the blood of all men.” It was impossible for Paul to have personally reached every individual. What actually happened was that he had multiplied his life through the trained discipleship of others. He took time to train his converts to teach others. This was the basic outreach of the early church: to reach, to teach, to train, and thereby multiply. So often we have tried everything but proven biblical methods for winning souls, but it is time for us to return to the apostolic method of Home Bible Study.
The “Exploring God’s Word” Home Bible Study is a 12 week course. Without considering the results, many people decide that this method is too long, that is, it takes too much time. The shocking truth is that most people do not win a soul in a whole year. We have tried the easy way getting them to church and letting them get under conviction. The problem is they haven’t come, they aren’t planning to come, and they will probably never come. Would it be a year of your time to win a soul?
Have you ever given your witness to someone who was moved with conviction? Have you also been frustrated because they wouldn’t com to church and you didn’t know what else to say? The Home Bible Study is the answer to this problem. It will put you back in their home for ten or twelve or more weeks. It will give you an opportunity to return until you have planted the Word of God in their heart and established a close bond of friendship. The good ground of their heart must be broken, planted, and watered. The Lord of the harvest promised a crop when we do our part.
We Have “Thought” Too Big
Our dreams of reaching a lost world are viewed from the mountaintop. We have envisioned the masses in the valleys below slain under conviction. Every minister would gladly accept the opportunity to preach to a large crusade crowd. However, the opportunities are seldom offered and we must not wait until they are. We must start somewhere. Perhaps the method Jesus used is still the best method. He often ministered to the people one by one in a soul winning effort. We can readily recall examples of individuals to whom Jesus ministered: Nicodemus, who came by night; the rich young ruler, the women at the well Samaria, Zacchaeus, and many others.
Two studies on mass evangelism were made by the Institute For American Church Growth. Their findings were as follows:
* More than 50% of the decisions registered were Christians.
* 85% of those that made the decision never afterward associated with any church.
* Of the hundreds of thousands of “decisions,” 97% of every 100 were never incorporated into any church.
* Conclusion: only about 3% of those who start go any farther.
* The early church began with a mass evangelism outreach that resulted in 3,000 baptisms (Acts 2). To perpetuate this growth, the ministry of the Word was taught in every house (Acts 5:42).
World evangelism starts at our front door. Suppose that you were the only born again Christian in the world. When reading Matthew 28:19, you realized that it was your duty to teach the gospel to the whole world. What would you do? Where would you start? Most of us would become totally frustrated. However, the answer is within our reach, as close as our front door.
The mighty Amazon River has its beginning in the Andes Mountains where millions of fluffy snowflakes fall and melt, then find their way down to the sea. All of the melted snowflakes are joined by millions of tiny raindrops that fall and drain from the Amazon basin. The combined melted snowflakes and tiny raindrops rush out to sea with the uncontrollable force of a mighty current. This river, which has such a small beginning, is one hundred miles wide at its mouth when it empties into the ocean. Its force is so great that it carries fresh water one thousand miles out into the ocean.
The avalanches of the high mountains often start with a dislodging of a tiny pebble. One pebble joins another and with an accumulation of rocks, boulders, trees, and other debris it becomes a mighty devastating avalanche that roars its way down the mountainside. Complete villages are sometimes engulfed by the debris of a single avalanche started by a tiny pebble far up the height of the mountain.
Forest fires start with a tiny spark which burst into a flame. The flame spreads until a raging fire races across the countryside. A forest fire will oftentimes roar down the canyon of a mountain with the fury of a thousand freight trains. Nothing can stop it until it has devoured everything in its path.
How can we win the world to God? Let’s start with one soul. Let’s plan, in our minds to spend a year finding, teaching, and discipling this soul to Jesus Christ. At the end of one year there will be two Christians in the world. And the second year the two of you will go out into the world and find two more. Spending the whole year again to find, to teach, to disciple in such a manner that they also could teach and disciple others. At the end of two years there would be four born-again Christians in the world.
This kind of progress seems painfully slow. At the end of the third year there would still only be eight people who would be true Bible-believing, born-again Christians. At the end of the fifth year there would be thirty-two people saved. This does not appear to be a very successful way to go. However, the following year, the number would increase to sixty-four and by the seventh year it would be 128. The tenth year would result in 1,024 people being saved. The twentieth year alone would result in 1,048,576 souls won to God. The thirty-second year would witness 4,294,967,296 people being saved.
This is almost equal to the population of the world. Perhaps our “big” thinking has kept us small,
preventing us from growing as God intended.