by Sarah Green
The following blog post are notes from a breakout session featured at the FOCUS Fall Conference 2014. To listen to the main sessions talks, click here.
“Lead a 1-to-1 Bible study? Me? That sounds way too scary! I also still have so much I need to learn myself. It would be much better to leave that to the pastors, FOCUS volunteers, and super-spiritual Christians.”
Ever had thoughts like that? Some people are really excited about the idea of leading bible studies with their friends, others are terrified. Most of us though, if we're honest, have never given the idea much thought. It seems like something other people should do. At the end of Matthew's gospel, however, we read these parting words of Jesus:
"All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Do you see Jesus' big plan right here? Jesus intended for the gospel to go out to the nations as his disciples made disciples, whose job in turn was to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples and so on until the end of the age. Jesus could have done it another way, he could have made a big sign in the sky, but instead he chose to use ordinary people like you and me. We're all called to be involved in the biggest thing going on the world, the awesome task of people disciple-makers – what an exciting vision! Messy, challenging and scary maybe, but so exciting.
We're told to make disciples by teaching people to obey everything Jesus commanded, and the place we find that today is the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 tells us how how the scriptures are able to “make us wise for salvation” (i.e. tell us everything we need to be saved, therefore great for our non-believing friends) and make Christians “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (i.e. useful for Christians at all stages of their spiritual life). We can have confidence then as we expose people to the word of God that God will do his work in their lives. We don't need to be 'experts', we don't point people to our own wisdom or ideas, instead we point them to Christ in the scriptures.
Most Christians will agree studying the bible is important, but why do it 1-to-1? Why not just take our friends to group Bible studies or church? For one thing, it's more personal. Friends might feel more comfortable and safe opening up to one person rather than a large group. It gives them space to share questions they have about the Christian faith, or struggles their facing. One-to-one studies are able to focus in deeply on particular things that people need to hear, and communicates love and care. It also gives us the joy of being involved in disciple making, and grow so much ourselves in the process.
That raises some practical issues: Who to meet with? What to study? Where to meet? The Bible, as we saw earlier, is necessary and helpful for people at all stages of their spiritual journey - so it's hard to think of anyone it wouldn't be helpful for. Having said that, it's wisest to read the Bible with people of the same gender, and focus on those with the greatest desire to learn and grow (feed the hungry!). All scripture is 'God breathed ' so there's nothing that would be wrong to study. It is a good idea, however, to think through what would be most helpful for the person you're meeting with: Maybe a gospel for someone still exploring faith issues, or a letter for a new Christian. Choose something you feel confident leading. Pick somewhere quiet, comfortable, and preferably not difficult to get to: perhaps a nearby cafe. The more you can make it a part of your life routine, the more likely it is to happen.
If you're convinced that disciple-making is something you should be involved in, then I'd encourage you to just make the first bold step and begin. Pray about who to meet with, seek guidance from older Christians you know, then take the bold step of asking your friend if he or she is interested. You'll make mistakes – that's ok. If we relied on our own wisdom, we would be arrogant and foolish to even attempt such an endeavor. But the authority and power is not ours but God's. We are called simply to hold out His words of life. So why not start today?
Sarah Green enjoys riding motorbikes, cuddling baby goats, drinking smoothies, and watching the sunset at the beach near her home in Dubai. She also loves people and introducing them to her passions in life (the above), and more importantly to Jesus. Having grown up in a number of different countries she loves meeting people from different parts of the world, which makes Dubai a perfect place to live!