Conducting Progressive Bible Studies
This insert is a compilation of key points from the series of articles on conducting progressive Bible studies that has appeared in Our Kingdom Ministry. All are encouraged to save this insert and to consult it when conducting Bible studies. In addition, points from this insert may be highlighted during meetings for field service, and service overseers may use it as the basis for talks they present when visiting book study groups.
Part 1: What Is a Bible Study?
If you regularly and systematically have Bible discussions, though brief, using the Bible or along with it one of the recommended publications, you are conducting a Bible study. The study may be reported when it has been conducted two times after the study arrangement is demonstrated and if there is reason to believe that the study will continue.—km 7/04 p. 1.
◼ What Does God Require of Us?
◼ Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life
◼ Worship the Only True God
◼ You Can Be God’s Friend! may be used to study with people who have limited education or reading ability.
Part 2: Preparing to Conduct the Study
We need to present the information in a way that touches the student’s heart. This requires thorough preparation with the student in mind.—km 8/04 p. 1.
How to Prepare
◼ Examine the title, subheadings, and visual aids of the chapter or lesson.
◼ Identify the answers to the printed questions, marking only key words and phrases.
◼ Decide which cited scriptures to read during the study. Make brief notes in the margin of the study publication.
◼ Prepare a brief review of main points.
Personalize the Lesson
◼ Pray about the student and his needs.
◼ Anticipate points that the student may have difficulty understanding or accepting.
◼ Consider: What does he need to understand or work on in order to make spiritual progress? How can I reach his heart?
◼ As needed, prepare an illustration, an explanation, or a series of questions to help the student grasp a point or a scripture.
Part 3: Effective Use of the Scriptures
Our purpose in conducting Bible studies is to “make disciples” by helping people to understand and accept the teachings of God’s Word and apply them in their lives. (Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Thess. 2:13) Therefore, the study should center on the Scriptures.—km 11/04 p. 4.
Teach From God’s Word
◼ Show the student how to find specific texts in his own copy of the Bible.
◼ Look up and discuss Bible texts that show the Scriptural basis for our beliefs.
◼ Use questions. Instead of explaining Bible texts to the student, have him explain them to you.
◼ Keep it simple. Do not try to explain every aspect of a scripture. Include only what is needed to make the point clear.
◼ Make practical application. Help the student to see how Bible texts apply to him personally.
Part 4: Training Students to Prepare
A student who reads the lesson beforehand, marks the answers, and thinks of how to express them in his own words makes rapid spiritual progress. Therefore, once a regular study has been established, prepare a lesson together to show the student how. With most students, it will be helpful to prepare an entire chapter or lesson together.—km 12/04 p. 1.
Markings and Notations
◼ Explain how to find direct answers to the printed questions.
◼ Show the student your copy of the study publication in which you have marked only the key words or phrases.
◼ Help the student to see that each cited text supports a point in the paragraph, and show him how to make brief notations in the margin of his study publication.
Survey and Review
◼ Show the student how to examine the chapter or lesson title, subheadings, and illustrations before beginning his detailed preparation.
◼ Encourage the student to review the main points at the conclusion of the preparation session.
Part 5: Determining How Much Material to Cover
The amount of material that can be considered will depend on the ability and the circumstances of both the teacher and the student.—km 1/05 p. 1.
Build Solid Faith
◼ Do not sacrifice the student’s having a clear understanding of God’s Word for the sake of speed.
◼ Spend whatever time is necessary to help the student understand and accept what he is learning.
◼ Allow sufficient time to consider key scriptures that provide the basis for the teachings.
Keep the Study Moving
◼ If the student is inclined to speak at length about personal matters, you may need to arrange to discuss these after the study.
◼ Do not talk excessively during the study. Limit the discussion of side points and experiences so as not to hinder the student from acquiring an accurate knowledge of basic Bible teachings.
Part 6: When a Student Raises a Question
Once a Bible study is well-established, it is usually best to consider Bible teachings in an orderly manner rather than jump from subject to subject. This helps the student to build a foundation of accurate knowledge and to progress spiritually.—km 2/05 p. 6.
◼ Questions related to the study material can usually be answered on the spot.
◼ Questions unrelated to the study material or that require research can be considered at another time. It may be helpful to write down such questions.
◼ If the student has difficulty accepting a certain teaching, consider additional material that thoroughly discusses the subject.
◼ If the student is still not convinced, leave the subject for another time and continue with the study.
◼ If you do not know the answer to a question, do not venture an opinion.
◼ Progressively teach the student how to do research.
Part 7: Offering Prayer at the Study
In order for Bible students to make spiritual progress, Jehovah’s blessing is essential. Therefore, it is proper to open and close an established study with prayer.—km 3/05 p. 4.
How to Introduce Prayer
◼ With those who are religiously inclined, prayer can often be offered from the very first study.
◼ With others, we need to discern the appropriate time to introduce prayer.
◼ Psalm 25:4, 5 and 1 John 5:14 can be used to explain why prayer is offered.
◼ John 15:16 can be used to show that we should pray to Jehovah through Jesus Christ.
What to Include in Prayers
◼ It is fitting to praise Jehovah as the Source of instruction.
◼ Express sincere interest in the student.
◼ Express appreciation for the organization that Jehovah is using.
◼ Request Jehovah’s blessing on the student’s efforts to apply what he is learning.
Part 8: Directing Students to the Organization
Our goal in conducting Bible studies is not only to teach doctrinal information but also to help students become part of the Christian congregation. Take a few minutes each week on the study to share a point about Jehovah’s organization.—km 4/05 p. 8.
◼ Describe each congregation meeting. From the first study, invite them to attend.
◼ Share outstanding points that were presented at the meetings.
◼ Build enthusiasm for the Memorial, assemblies, and the visit of the circuit overseer.
◼ Use photographs in our publications to help them visualize what takes place.
◼ Encourage them to read the brochure Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?
Use Videos to Build Appreciation
◼ Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name
◼ Our Whole Association of Brothers
◼ United by Divine Teaching
◼ To the Ends of the Earth
Part 9: Preparing Students to Witness Informally
As Bible students begin to exercise faith in what they are learning, they are impelled to speak about it.—km 5/05 p. 1.
Encourage Them to Witness
◼ Are there friends and family members whom they could invite to sit in on the study?
◼ Have any of their workmates, schoolmates, or other acquaintances expressed interest?
Train Them to Share Their Beliefs
◼ At selected points during the study, ask the student, “How would you use the Bible to explain this truth to your family?”
◼ Help the student appreciate the need to be respectful and kind when speaking with others about God and his purposes.
◼ The brochure Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe? can be used by students to help friends and family members understand our Bible-based beliefs and activities.
Part 10: Training Students in the House-to-House Ministry
When the elders determine that a Bible student qualifies as an unbaptized publisher, he may begin to share with the congregation in the public preaching work.—km 6/05 p. 1.
◼ Show the new publisher where he can find suggested presentations.
◼ Help him select a simple approach that is practical for the local territory.
◼ Encourage him to feature the Bible in his ministry.
◼ Rehearse together. Show him how to handle common responses tactfully.
◼ Let the student observe as you give the presentation that you prepared together.
◼ Take into consideration the personality and abilities of the student. In some cases, it may be best to have him give only part of the presentation.
◼ Help the new publisher establish a regular schedule for participating in the ministry.
Part 11: Helping Students to Make Return Visits
Preparation for a return visit begins with the initial call. Encourage the student to take a sincere interest in those with whom he speaks. Progressively train him to draw them out, to listen to their comments, and to note the things that concern them.—km 7/05 p. 1.
Preparing to Return
◼ Review the initial call, and help the student select a subject that will appeal to the householder.
◼ Prepare a brief presentation that features one Bible text along with one paragraph in a publication.
◼ Prepare a question that can be raised at the conclusion of the discussion.
Follow Up Interest Diligently
◼ Encourage the student to return promptly on all who show interest.
◼ Help the student see the need to persist in trying to reach those who are hard to find.
◼ Show the new publisher how to make appointments, and help him appreciate the need to return as promised.
Part 12: Helping Students Start and Conduct Bible Studies
Your imitating Jesus by setting a proper example in your own ministry is vital. As your student observes your lead in the ministry, he will appreciate that the objective in making return visits is to start Bible studies.—km 8/05 p. 1.
Offering a Bible Study
◼ Explain to the student that it is not generally necessary to describe the study arrangement in detail.
◼ Often it is best simply to demonstrate the study using one or perhaps two paragraphs from a study publication.
◼ Review and rehearse one of the suggestions for starting Bible studies.—km 8/05 p. 8; km 1/02 p. 6.
Training Students to Be Teachers
◼ Encourage students to enroll in the Theocratic Ministry School.
◼ Arrange for new publishers to go on other Bible studies in which they might have a small share in teaching.