In the previous two articles (here and here), we examined the most difficult part of personal evangelism: coming right out and asking people to study with us. Often, we are simply 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 very 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.
Ways to ask for a Bible study are plentiful. What is it about asking people to study the Bible that fills us with such fear? We may claim to be too bashful and shy to ask. Yet we demonstrate when we talk enthusiastically about other things that this is nothing more than an excuse when the subject is religion. In any case, there is no need for us to be bashful about the gospel (Acts 28:30-31; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:7). Depending on the opportunity, there are various ways we can ask people to study. We might ask the person what they think a Christian is, and then discuss that there are many different ideas about that in the religious world. We might ask the person if they have ever wondered why there are so many churches and how it can be remedied. We might ask them what they have heard about the “church of Christ.” Perhaps best of all, we might inquire into a person’s own religious background and say, “If I could show you from the New Testament how you could be genuinely closer to God than you are now, would you be interested?”
The main necessity is to place the challenge on ourselves. We must accept the burden of proof, the responsibility to show people from the scriptures that we have some matters worth considering. If we cannot persuade people from the scriptures to obey the gospel — if our case is not strong enough to stand on its own — then they should not, in fact, be interested in what we have to say.
When all is said and done, asking people to study the Bible is like many other skills in that we basically learn how by asking. In the process of finding out what works for us, we can be encouraged by knowing that most people will make allowances for our mistakes of method as long as they know we are acting with love and integrity. We need not be afraid or discouraged by a negative answer. It takes hearing “no” a certain number of times to get to a “yes.” Paul said that he had not withheld the gospel from the Ephesians (Acts 20:20, 26-27). Can we same the same about the ones we love?