How to Lead an Investigative Bible Discussion I. Pray (John 15:7, 16:8-11, Acts 26:16-18, Colossians 4:3-4, I Samuel 12:23) Saturate the preparation, the people, and the place with prayer. Pray and consider what you want the outcome, the objective, of the study to be (Hebrews 11:1). Pray by name for each individual that you want to invite. Pray for individuals as they leave. Pray that what they heard would sink into their hearts. Pray that you will be able to discern where the Holy Spirit is working in their lives (John 5:17, 19-20). II. Recruit Recruiting is the process of enlisting others to join a group or cause. Through an IBD, your seeking friends will have the opportunity to discover Jesus in a safe community. You will not only experience the joy of introducing your friends to Jesus, you will also encourage others to be more involved in evangelism. The word “recruiting” can often have negative connotations. o It is viewed positively if the people have been offered the choice to participate rather than being coerced & if the people find satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment in what they have been recruited to be a part of. o It is viewed negatively when there is unfair pressure (car salesman – something you don’t want to do). The negative stereotype of recruiting comes to mind first in our society, which discourages us from inviting our seeking friends to investigate Jesus with us. We question the value of what we have to offer – do they really need it, are we bugging them? Recruiting involves more than making information available. We are not just telling a drowning person that there is a life preserver available. We are getting it into their grasp. Steps in Recruiting/Inviting others (4-I’s of recruiting ) 1. Identify God-given relationships with within your natural networks (where you live, work, play, common ground or interests) who are not following Jesus. Decide who specifically God is putting on your heart to invite (Write their names on a card and pray for them daily). 2. Introduce the topic of spiritual things with those for whom you are praying in conversation. Do you have any spiritual beliefs? Is your spiritual life important to you? Lately I’ve really been enjoying learning more about Jesus through the Bible. I find that talking about spiritual things with my friends really helps me to understand them more and helps to deepen my relationships with them. I thought you might enjoy this as well. Last week when we were talking you mentioned that...and I was wondering if you would be interested in getting together and looking at how Jesus dealt with that? If you were to take a snapshot of your life ten years from now, what would it look like? What role would you want God to play in you life? To you, who is Jesus? 3. Invite people to investigate what Christ says about Himself and how to live life. You are not recruiting them to look at what the church says, Christians say, the Bible says, but at what Jesus says. What He says happens to be located in a particular part of the Bible. Jesus has made some unique claims about Himself and how to live life. Would you be interested in investigating what He has to say? They will have instant concerns – How is this investigating going to take place? 4. Inform about the specifics – How long, who will be there, where, small group, format – be extremely clear about logistics The day, time, and place should be centered around them, not you. Where would they feel the most comfortable? Remind them a couple of days before the study, remind them the day of the study, go pick them up for the study. Be sure they understand that: •This is a spiritual discussion. •You don't need to know anything about the Bible, just be curious and open. •We will be looking at stories from Jesus' biographies. •This is where, when and for how long we will meet. •You can invite a friend. III. Plan/Prepare Study the passage personally. What does it say? What does it mean? How does it apply to your life? Ask, “Who is Jesus?” “What does He want from me?” o Be ready to share openly how God spoke to you through this passage. Have an objective of what you want them to walk away with. Come up with creative open-ended questions. Asking effective questions is the key to fruitful discussion and interaction. Try to remove yourself from a Christian mindset and think like a non-believer. What Christian jargon will they not understand, what issues might bother them? Think of a thought-provoking question to ask at the beginning of the study that relates to the text. Try creating a question that helps people become more acquainted with each other. Plan to spend twice as much time preparing for the discussion as you will take to lead it. The objective: to help them understand in a clear way who Jesus is and what Jesus wants with their life. As this occurs, the Holy Spirit will be working to convince them. IV. Leading/Facilitating Tone is a key element to the atmosphere of the IBD. Provide snacks and drinks. This gives people something to do when they arrive. Provide each member with a Bible. Ideally use the same version and same type of Bible so the page numbers match. Begin your time by welcoming all who have arrived. Set a tone that is sincere, confident, lighthearted, and casual. Introduce yourself to each one, with eye-to-eye contact, and remember their names. Ask them what they understand this time to be. Thank them for coming and share with them what they can expect from the time. Share with them that because you believe your faith in Christ rests and falls on what the Bible says, that you will primarily use the Bible for the time of discussion. Convince them that any question they may have is a good question. Try to keep the discussion around Jesus Christ. Don’t put up walls by choosing sides on hot issues, i.e. abortion, death penalty, homosexuality, etc. The discussion should last 30 – 45 minutes…no longer. Leave them wanting more. Total group time should be no more than 1 hr. When answering questions always take them back to the Bible. - Seeing it for themselves will help to convince them. - The Holy Spirit uses the Word (Hebrews 4:12). Listen to their questions, but table the ones that have nothing to do with the study. Write the questions down. This will let them know you are serious about answering them. Don’t be afraid to mention that you do not know all the answers, but that you are convinced they are in the Bible. Be willing to do some research for them. Sometime the best answer is “I don’t know.” Figure out how to get each person involved. Use the time with them to try to understand their spiritual background. V. Evaluate - Be a learner. Evaluate after each session. Were your objectives met? Why or why not? Were you creative? Did you communicate clearly? What were your strengths and weaknesses? Was everyone involved? Was the Holy Spirit really working strongly in anyone in particular? Who did most of the talking? What worked well? What would you do differently? VI. Follow Up Within 2 days visit each student who attended and affirm them for coming and for any input they gave. Ask if they have any questions, they want to discuss now. Any concerns with the last session? Remind them about the next session and encourage them to attend. See if there is anything you could do with them outside the context of the IBD (play basketball, study together, have dinner). VII. FAQ’s HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD I HAVE IN MY IBD? Most IBDs are a one on one or small group discussion. Make sure you always have more seekers than believers. HOW CAN I HAVE AN AGENDA FOR EVANGELISM AND AT THE SAME TIME CARE FOR MY FRIENDS? Jesus did it well. So can we. If we genuinely love people, listen, earn the right to be heard, and then share honestly about our faith, people will respond. Then we stay committed to the friendship, however they respond. WHEN IS IT TIME TO INVITE MY FRIENDS INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS? There is no easy answer to this. Remember there are three stages, planting, cultivating, and reaping. However, it is usually time to reap before you think it is. If your friend trusts you and you have had some good spiritual conversations, take the risk and ask if you can share a simple summary of the message of the Gospel. Then go for it! If they are not yet ready to respond by trusting Jesus, continue cultivating. WHAT BIBLICAL BOOKS OR STORIES WOULD BE GOOD TO STUDY IN MY IBD? John's Gospel is excellent! So is any story within the Gospels that has deeply affected your life. HOW DO I DEAL WITH MY FEARS? Get help in prayer and accountability from a friend. It helps a lot to meet with others who are leading IBDs to learn from each other and to encourage one another. HOW DO I HAVE A "DISCUSSION" WHEN MY IBD IS ONE ON ONE? Treat yourself like one of the two participants. Ask questions, and then go back and forth with the other person, sharing your thoughts and feelings. HOW MUCH SHOULD I SHARE IN MY IBD? WHEN SHOULD I TEACH IN MY IBD? Your friends want to hear what you think and have experienced. So plan on sharing important truths and a vulnerable story each time. Then ask your friends if they can relate to the story. The one thing you want to avoid is becoming the expert answer person right away. Let God use their questions to help create an environment in which any question is okay, and in which people can seek answers at their own pace. Let God use the Bible passage to speak truth into people's lives. You are primarily there as a facilitator and guide, not a teacher. WHEN SHOULD I PRAY WITH MY FRIENDS IN MY IBD? Generally, you will not want to pray in your IBD during the first few sessions. But after 4 or 5 weeks, it can be a very important step if your friends are open. You will always want to model how to pray and not volunteer someone who may be unwilling. Generally short prayers are the most appropriate in these situations.
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