- A way to bring our friends and family directly to the New Testament in order to introduce them to Christ. The plan is to read the Bible aloud with those who don’t know Christ on a regular basis.
- The Bible tells us the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, resulting in forgiveness and the life which is essential for our salvation. In fact, we only know about that through the Bible.
- Also, to believe includes hearing and conforming to the word that is heard (Mt 7:24-27; Ps 1, Rom 4:3 with Jam 2:21-24, etc.). For instance, the people of faith in Heb 11 all heard, believed what they heard as coming from God, and obeyed (Noah, Abraham, etc).
- Continuing or abiding in the Word is at the heart of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ (Jn 8:29-38; Jn 10:26-27, etc.).
- Therefore, when we help people to read the words of Christ (which is actually not only His words per se, but also the words He commissioned through his prophets, i.e. the NT), we will help them either to believe in Christ and become a true follower, or to know that they are rejecting Him and His words.
- Unbelievers of all kinds.
- Extended family—cousins, nephews and nieces, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, etc.
- Friends—neighbors, work associates, coffee shop acquaintances, sports participants, etc.
- People who are institutionalized in nursing homes, prisons or even temporarily in hospitals
- Religious people—those who think they are believers already, yet have no good signs.
- Females with females and males with males is best, unless they are relatives or the age discrepancy is large (people at the nursing home)
- At work during lunch, after work, early before work
- At your home
- In the coffee shop
- At the park when the weather is permissible
- Over Skype, or by phone. You can mail a New Testament, if necessary, or do something to be sure you are reading the same text.
- It’s usually helpful to provide coffee or tea or a snack, where possible.
- It depends. For most it will not be a long session. Perhaps just 20-30 minutes. For others, where the interest is strong, it could be longer. But don’t exhaust the readers. Make them want more, rather than less. You should definitely try to cover more than one chapter though, in order to get through the book in a reasonable time. Matthew, for instance, has 28 chapters. It would be wonderful to read four chapters a week, if possible, so that the initial set of sessions is complete in seven weeks. At that time, discussion can happen about another book to read, if anyone wants to continue. Give people a good out at that time. Also, when initially getting people involved, just speak of the initial book reading only. If the hunger exists for more, that can be introduced at a later date.
- Introductory idea: “I’m intrigued by the words of Christ these days. I know you have some religious thoughts also. I’ve been thinking of reading a book of the Bible together over a few weeks with anyone who is interested. Want to join in? I will provide an easy to read translation for us.” Or, “Do you ever wish you could really, clearly understand what Jesus says? I’m planning on getting a couple of folks together just to read through Matthew for a few weeks. Want to join in? I’ll provide the same translation of the New Testament for us. I’m not teaching anything, but just reading and conversing about it if people have questions.”
- If possible, introduce the importance of Bible reading by going over The Soils booklet (or use the Bible passage of the Soils parable found in Mt 13 or Lk 8). Point out that there are four kinds of people Jesus tells us about in this story (on back of booklet). Each kind of soil is a person described by the way he or she responds to the words of Christ. Read the booklet together. Share that only the last soil is the true Christian and that reading the Bible will help us see if we really receive Christ’s words and follow Him. Help them see that this discovery is really important.
- Re-stated, it is good to say that we will read with the intent of discovering if we really believe Christ’s words and if we will obey them. “No use calling Him a good teacher if we don’t believe and obey His words. Right?”
- Then pick a book of the NT to read. For most people, reading a gospel book will be most helpful. Remember that John, though excellent to read for some, will be harder than the rest to comprehend for most people. Matthew or Luke is often a great choice, but sometimes Mark works well since it is shorter.
- Each reader, including you, will need to have their own New Testament. We purchased ESV New Testaments inexpensively through Biblesbythecase.com. Be sure to find a New Testament with readable print. If the readers want to go further, you may wish to purchase whole Bibles later. You should supply the New Testaments yourself, as a gift.
- You may wish to collect the New Testaments each time you finish reading, depending on the situation. Then you may pass them out next time. This prevents problems if people forget. However, in most cases, allowing them to keep their New Testament from the start will be best, since at home they likely will peruse other portions of Scripture or re-read the passage on their own. Don’t require any additional work at home, however. Keep an extra New Testament or two with you, in case someone forgets.
- Inform the group that you are not the teacher, but just a facilitator. At the same time, if questions arise you will be happy to try to answer them. Usually, this begins more earnestly as the group develops over time. Don’t be overly long in your answers. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, or if the question is distracting, you may tell them that you will try to find out the answer and get back with them later.
- New readers may join you mid-course. No problems with that.
- Pass the reading around. It usually works to say, “Read about a half a page, or so, then let the next person read.” A person also may opt not to read aloud at any time.
- Tell the group (individual?)that you will help with pronunciation of some of difficult names the best you can. If there are long sections of names, you may skip it or read it yourself.
- Never make fun of their mistaken beliefs, or other mistakes, such as mixing up characters in the Bible (Moses on the Ark, etc.).
- Pray, and talk about what you discover later with other believers, good or bad, since your experience will guide everyone.
- Remember that many people who should read the Bible simply will not do it, no matter how well you appeal to them. But God will use this in those He has prepared. Sow the seed in hope!