In the matter of personal evangelism, we are often reluctant to do the one thing that most needs to be done: come right out and ask people to study with us. It is interesting to note how easily and naturally the apostle Paul found people to teach the gospel, even in unfamiliar surroundings (Acts 27:16-17; 28:30-31). Unfortunately, we are sometimes more reluctant. We may engage in broad discussions of religious topics now and then, and we may even invite others to services of the church, but very often we do not ask people if they will study the Bible with us!
The “waiting game” is popular. We tend to think that we must “build a relationship” with people before we can speak to them about the gospel. We even sometimes rationalize questionable activities by saying that we are making “contacts” with which to study. Yet as time goes by, we find that we have asked very few, if any, of these contacts to actually sit down with us and study the Bible.
Later is not always better. It is not always possible, or even expedient, to ask a new acquaintance if he would like to study the Bible. Wisdom would urge us to look for is the optimum moment: the time wherein there is the best possible chance of meeting with a positive response. The point is that very often the optimum moment to ask about a Bible study comes earlier, rather than later, in our association with people. If we plan, at some point, to ask those we come in contact with to study with us, we need to see that most of them will appreciate frankness and candor about that early in the relationship. Most of those we meet will respect honest “plain speaking” about what it is we want, and we can be straightforward about this without being discourteous.
When one quickly gets to the point with a new acquaintance, studying is easier. Human nature is such that the farther we go into a relationship with someone, the less likely we are to ask them to study. The more involved the relationship, the more reluctant we are to jeopardize it by bringing up the touchy subject of religion. Waiting often leaves the impression that we believe people are spiritually safe in their present condition. Waiting certainly risks the possibility of some unexpected misfortune ending our opportunity to teach or a person’s opportunity to obey. Even if the answer is no, we may still develop a relationship and be in an even better position to teach them later. However, if that does not happen, our conscience will know that we have asked the question that really needed to be asked.