In the previous article, we began examining the most difficult part of personal evangelism: coming right out and asking people to study with us. Unfortunately, we are sometimes reluctant to ask. We may engage in broad discussions of religious topics now and then, and we may even invite others to services of the church, but we do not often ask people if they will study the Bible with us! The only way a congregation will have sustained growth is if members will study with non-Christians in their homes.
No matter what the circumstances or the timetable available, eventually we must ask people to study the Bible. Whether we have a close friendship with folks or not, sooner or later we are going to have to “pop the question” and simply ask them if we can study the Bible. Popping the question is never completely easy. A man may dread asking a woman to marry him, and he may stumble awkwardly when he does, but because he loves her, he will ask!
With home studies it may be as James says it is with the Lord’s blessings: “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Prayer will help us to speak plainly (Acts 4:29; Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:3-4). Even if we could ask just one person each month for a Bible study, that would generate enough to keep us busy and interested in the work of the church. Opportunities to ask for a Bible study are frequent. Most of us get (and waste) far more opportunities to ask for studies than we think. When religious subjects come up in conversation, a door is usually opened. However, rather than go through the door and ask for a study, our courage fails us. At times we actually run from subjects and statements that provide our best opportunities!
For example, we tend to “duck” or change the subject when stereotypes, misconceptions and prejudices about us surface. Charges that there are hypocrites in the church, that we are a cult, that we believe in water salvation, that we do not have “music” and that we are the only ones going to heaven all provide opportunities. Sometimes, we discuss the subject there and fail to ask for an in-depth study of the Bible. At other times, we merely invite the person to visit worship services rather than ask for a Bible study. Yet, general religious discussions or inviting people to services will not by themselves get the job done. Joshua and the Israelites did “march around” Jericho — but not indefinitely!