Wanted—More Bible Studies
1 Jehovah God is blessing his earthly organization with continued growth. Last service year, 375,923 were baptized worldwide—an average of over 1,000 new disciples each day, or about 43 every hour! Despite the decades of hardship that our brothers may have faced in various parts of the world, the Kingdom work is flourishing and outstanding increases are being experienced. How exciting it is to read of the advancement being made in spreading the good news!
2 In the United States branch last service year, we too saw increases in the average total publishers and auxiliary pioneers, in the hours spent preaching, and in the numbers of booklets, brochures, and magazines placed. There was an increase in the number baptized and an all-time peak in the Memorial attendance. What about the return visit and Bible study activity? We had a drop in the total number of return visits made and a 14-percent decrease in Bible studies. And yet, these features of the ministry are what the disciple-making work is all about. What can each one of us do to reverse this downward trend in return visits and Bible studies?
3 Strengthen the Desire to Conduct a Study: We ourselves need to focus on being spiritually strong and active. Christ’s true followers are “zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:14) When we review our ministry, can we say that we are intensely eager to follow through on all literature placements made in the field? Are we enthusiastic about offering home Bible studies to all who manifest interest? (Rom. 12:11) Or do we need to develop a greater desire to make return visits and start home Bible studies?
4 Personal Bible reading, regular meeting attendance, and study of the publications will keep us spiritually fresh and empowered with God’s spirit. (Eph. 3:16-19) This will strengthen our faith and confidence in Jehovah and our love for our fellowman. We will be motivated to teach the truth to someone else, thereby making our ministry interesting, successful, and stimulating. Yes, we should want more Bible studies!
5 Study With Family First: Christian parents who have children living at home should be concerned with their program of regular family Bible study. (Deut. 31:12; Ps. 148:12, 13; Prov. 22:6) It would be very beneficial for parents to study the Require brochure and then the Knowledge book with their children to prepare them for qualification as unbaptized publishers and for dedication and baptism. Of course, additional material may be considered, depending upon the need and the age of the child. A parent who studies with an unbaptized child may count the study, time, and return visits, as outlined in the April 1987 Our Kingdom Ministry Question Box.
6 Improve Personal Organization: Considering the number of magazines, brochures, and books placed, there is no doubt that a great amount of seed is being scattered. These seeds of truth that have been sown hold tremendous potential for producing new disciples. But would a farmer or a gardener be truly satisfied if he continually planted and, after all his efforts, never took the time to reap? Hardly. Likewise, a follow-up ministry is necessary.
7 Do you regularly schedule time to make return visits? Call back promptly on all interest found. Make return visits with the objective of starting a Bible study. Do you keep a neat, up-to-date, and well-organized record of your return visits? Along with the name and address of the householder, be sure to record the date of the initial call, any placements, a brief description of what was discussed, and a point that can be developed on the next call. Leave space on your record for additional information to be added after each return visit.
8 Analyze How to Make a Return Visit: What are some points to have in mind when making a return visit on an interested person? (1) Be warm, friendly, enthusiastic, and informal. (2) Discuss subjects or questions that interest him. (3) Keep the discussion simple and Scriptural. (4) On each visit, endeavor to teach the householder something that he will recognize as being of personal value to him. (5) Build up anticipation for the subject to be discussed on the next visit. (6) Do not stay too long. (7) Do not ask questions that embarrass the householder or put him on the spot. (8) Use discernment so as not to condemn wrong views or bad habits of the householder before spiritual appreciation has been cultivated.—See the March 1997 Our Kingdom Ministry insert for additional help on how to be successful in making return visits and starting Bible studies.
9 Explore Every Possibility: In one congregation, it was possible to obtain the names and apartment numbers of all the tenants in a high-security housing facility. A personal letter was written to each resident, and two tracts were enclosed. At the end of the letter, a home Bible study was offered and a local phone number was included so that the recipient could respond. Within a few days, a young man called requesting a study. A return visit was made the next day, and a study was established in the Knowledge book. That very night he attended the Congregation Book Study, and he continued to attend all the meetings. Almost immediately, he started reading the Bible daily and made steady progress toward baptism.
10 Publishers in one car group arranged to make some return visits together. When a sister made one of her calls, the person she was looking for was not at home, but another young woman answered the door, saying: “I have been waiting for you.” The householder had received the Knowledge book earlier from an acquaintance. By the time the sisters called at her door, she had read the book through twice and was very impressed with the information it contained. She said she was not surprised to see the Witnesses call on her that day because she had been praying for them to come and study the Bible with her. A study was started, she began attending congregation meetings, and she made rapid advancement.
11 A sister, baptized for nearly 25 years, recently gave her mother a Knowledge book. Her mother, a church member, started to read the book. After she had completed two chapters, she called her daughter and, to the daughter’s amazement, said: “I want to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses!” The mother began to study and is now baptized.
12 Try These Suggestions: Have you ever used the direct approach for starting studies? You may simply state: “If you would like to have a free home Bible study, I can show you in just a few minutes how it is done. If you enjoy it, you can continue.” Many people do not hesitate to accept such an offer, and they readily observe the demonstration of a Bible study.
13 Early in the study, show the student how to prepare in advance by reading the cited scriptures and underlining key words in answer to the printed questions. Concentrate on only the main points. Although we may need to be flexible for the first few sessions, it is important that a Bible study be held on a regular basis. Have in mind how you will introduce prayer as an essential part of the study and how you will Scripturally prepare the student for opposition. By all means, make the study lively!
14 Of course, not all Bible students progress at the same rate. Some are not as spiritually inclined as others nor as quick to absorb the things being taught. Others lead very busy lives and may not be able to devote the time needed to cover a full chapter each week. Thus, in some cases it may be necessary to take more than one study session to cover certain chapters and some additional months to complete the book. In some instances we may study the Require brochure first and then progress through the Knowledge book. This, supplemented by their attendance at congregation meetings, will help each student to get a solid foundation in the truth.
15 Above all, pray for a Bible study! (1 John 3:22) One of the most rewarding experiences for a Christian is to be used by Jehovah to help someone become a disciple of Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 3:6-9; 1 Thess. 2:8) Now is the time to show great zeal in the Bible study work, fully confident of Jehovah’s rich blessing on our efforts to start more studies!
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Are you praying to start a new Bible study?