“You are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers.”—2 COR. 3:3.
SONG 78 “Teaching the Word of God”
1. How does 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 help us to appreciate the privilege we have of conducting a Bible study that leads to baptism? (See cover picture.)
HOW do you feel when you see a Bible student from your congregation territory get baptized? Surely it makes your heart rejoice. (Matt. 28:19) And if you are the one who studied with the new disciple, how thrilling for you to witness that one’s baptism! (1 Thess. 2:19, 20) Newly baptized disciples are fine “letters of recommendation,” not just for those who studied with them but also for the whole congregation.—Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-3.
2. (a) What important question do we need to consider, and why? (b) What is a Bible study? (See footnote.)
2 It is very good to see that for the past four years, on average, some 10,000,000 Bible studies* have been reported every month worldwide. And during those same years, on average, over 280,000 got baptized each year as Jehovah’s Witnesses and new disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we help more of those millions of Bible students to get baptized? As long as Jehovah is patiently allowing people the time and opportunity to become Christ’s disciples, we want to do all we can to help them progress to baptism as quickly as possible. Time is fast running out!—1 Cor. 7:29a; 1 Pet. 4:7.
3. What will we consider in this article about conducting Bible studies?
3 To address the urgent need to make disciples, branch offices were surveyed to find out how we can help more of our Bible students progress to baptism. In this article and in the one that follows, we will see what we can learn from experienced pioneers, missionaries, and circuit overseers.* (Prov. 11:14; 15:22) They point out what Bible teachers and their students can do to make a Bible study more successful. In this article, we will consider five things every student needs to do to make steady progress toward baptism.
STUDY EVERY WEEK
4. What should we realize about a doorstep Bible study?
4 Many of our brothers and sisters are conducting Bible studies right on the householder’s doorstep. Although this is a good start for developing interest in the Bible, these discussions are usually quite brief and may not even be held every week. To cultivate the interest further, some will ask for the interested person’s contact information and then phone or text the person between visits to share a brief Scriptural thought. Such occasional discussions might continue for months without developing into a productive study of the Bible. Will a student really progress to dedication and baptism if that is all the time and effort that he* devotes to studying God’s Word? Probably not.
5. According to Luke 14:27-33, what did Jesus emphasize that can help us in our disciple-making work?
5 On one occasion, Jesus illustrated the cost of becoming his disciple. He spoke about someone wanting to build a tower and about a king wanting to march into war. Jesus said that the builder must “first sit down and calculate the expense” to complete the tower and that the king must “first sit down and take counsel” to see whether his troops can accomplish what they intend to do. (Read Luke 14:27-33.) Likewise, Jesus knew that a person who wants to become his disciple should analyze very carefully what it means to follow him. For that reason, we need to encourage prospective disciples to study with us every week. How can we do that?
6. What might we try to do to have progressive studies?
6 Start by lengthening those doorstep studies. Perhaps you can discuss an additional Scriptural point each time you visit. When the householder feels comfortable with a longer visit, ask him if there is some place where you can sit down together and continue the discussion. The householder’s reply will reveal how serious he is about studying the Bible. Eventually, to accelerate his progress, you might even ask the student if he would be willing to study twice a week. Yet, more is needed than to study once or twice every week.
PREPARE FOR EACH STUDY SESSION
7. How can the teacher prepare well for each Bible study session?
7 As the teacher, you need to prepare well for each Bible study session. You can begin by reading the material and looking up the scriptures. Get the main points clearly in mind. Think about the title of the lesson, the subheadings, the study questions, the “read” scriptures, the artwork, and any videos that may help explain the subject. Then with your student in mind, meditate in advance on how to present the information simply and clearly so that your student can easily understand and apply it.—Neh. 8:8; Prov. 15:28a.
8. What do the apostle Paul’s words recorded at Colossians 1:9, 10 teach us about praying for our Bible students?
8 As part of your preparation, pray to Jehovah about the student and his needs. Ask Jehovah to help you teach from the Bible in a way that will reach the person’s heart. (Read Colossians 1:9, 10.) Try to anticipate anything that the student may have difficulty understanding or accepting. Keep in mind that your goal is to help him progress to baptism.
9. How can the teacher help the student to prepare for his study? Explain.
9 It is our hope that through a regular Bible study, the student will appreciate what Jehovah and Jesus have done and will want to learn more. (Matt. 5:3, 6) To benefit fully from the study, the student needs to concentrate on what he is learning. To that end, impress on him how important it is that he prepare for each study session by reading the lesson beforehand and reflecting on how the material applies to him. How can the teacher help? Prepare a lesson together with the student to show him how this is done.* Explain how to find the direct answers to the study questions, and show how highlighting only key words or phrases will help him recall the answer. Then ask him to give the answer in his own words. When he does so, you will be able to determine how well he has understood the material. There is something else, though, that you can encourage your student to do.
TEACH HIM TO COMMUNICATE WITH JEHOVAH EVERY DAY
10. Why is it important to read the Bible daily, and what is needed to get the most out of Bible reading?
10 In addition to studying every week with his teacher, the student would benefit from doing some things every day on his own. He needs to communicate with Jehovah. How? By listening to and talking to Jehovah. He can listen to God by reading the Bible daily. (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:1-3) Show him how to use the printable “Bible Reading Schedule” that is posted on jw.org.* Of course, to help him get the most out of his Bible reading, encourage him to meditate on what the Bible is teaching him about Jehovah and how he can apply what he is learning to his personal life.—Acts 17:11; Jas. 1:25.
11. How can a student learn to pray properly, and why is it important for him to pray to Jehovah often?
11 Encourage your student to talk to Jehovah by praying each day. Offer heartfelt prayers at the beginning and at the end of each study session, praying with and for your student. As he listens to your prayers, he will learn how to pray from his heart and sincerely address his prayers to Jehovah God in the name of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 6:9; John 15:16) Imagine how reading the Bible daily (listening to Jehovah) and praying (talking to Jehovah) will help your student draw ever closer to God! (Jas. 4:8) Developing these habits will help your student acquire something else that can lead to his dedication and baptism.
HELP HIM TO DEVELOP A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH
12. How can a teacher help a student to develop a relationship with Jehovah?
12 What a student learns on a Bible study should appeal not just to his mind but also to his heart. Why? Our heart—which includes our desires, emotions, and feelings—motivates us to action. Jesus used logical reasoning that appealed to the mind. But people followed him because he also stirred their heart. (Luke 24:15, 27, 32) Your student needs to see Jehovah as a real Person, someone with whom he can develop a relationship, and to see Him as his Father, his God, and his Friend. (Ps. 25:4, 5) During the Bible study, make our God’s personality come alive. (Ex. 34:5, 6; 1 Pet. 5:6, 7) Regardless of the topic you are discussing, focus attention on the kind of Person Jehovah is. Help the student to appreciate Jehovah’s beautiful qualities—his love, kindness, and compassion. Jesus said that “the greatest and first commandment” is to “love Jehovah your God.” (Matt. 22:37, 38) Try to instill deep love for God in your student’s heart.
13. Give an example of how to help a student learn about Jehovah’s personality.
13 In your conversations with your student, express your deep feelings for Jehovah. This may help your student to realize that he needs to develop his own warm, personal relationship with God. (Ps. 73:28) For example, is there a phrase in the study publication or in a scripture that reveals something about Jehovah—his love, wisdom, justice, or power—that touches your heart? Mention it to your student, and let him know that this is one of the many reasons why you love our heavenly Father. There is something else that every Bible student needs to do in order to progress to baptism.
ENCOURAGE HIM TO ATTEND CONGREGATION MEETINGS
14. What does Hebrews 10:24, 25 tell us about congregation meetings that can help a Bible student make progress?
14 All of us want our students to progress to baptism. One important way we can help them is by encouraging them to attend congregation meetings. Experienced teachers say that students who attend meetings right away make the fastest progress. (Ps. 111:1) Some teachers explain to their students that they will receive half of their Bible education from the study and the other half from the meetings. Read Hebrews 10:24, 25 with your student, and explain to him the benefits that he will receive if he comes to the meetings. Play for him the video What Happens at a Kingdom Hall?* Help your student to make weekly meeting attendance an important part of his life.
15. What can we do to encourage a student to attend meetings regularly?
15 What can you do if your student has not yet attended a meeting or is not attending regularly? Enthusiastically share something you learned at a recent meeting. That is more motivating than just inviting the student to attend. Give him the Watchtower or the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook that is currently being studied at the meeting. Show him what will be discussed at the next meeting, and ask him what part of it sounds most interesting to him. What your student experiences at his first meeting will far exceed anything he ever experienced at any other type of religious gathering. (1 Cor. 14:24, 25) He will meet others whose good example he can imitate and who will help him progress to baptism.
16. What is needed to conduct Bible studies that lead to baptism, and what will we learn in the next article?
16 How can we conduct Bible studies that lead to baptism? We can help each student take the study seriously by encouraging him to study every week and prepare for each study session. We also want to encourage him to communicate with Jehovah every day and to develop a personal relationship with Him. We want to motivate the student to attend congregation meetings. (See the box “What Students Need to Do to Progress to Baptism.”) However, as the next article will explain, there are five additional things that Bible teachers can do to lead students to baptism.
SONG 76 How Does It Make You Feel?
To teach a person something means to help him “think, feel, or act in a new or different way.” Our 2020 yeartext, Matthew 28:19, has reminded us of the importance of studying the Bible with people and teaching them how to become baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. In this article and in the one that follows, we will see how we can improve in this all-important work.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: If you regularly and systematically have discussions using the Bible, you are conducting a Bible study. You may report the study if you have conducted it two times after the study arrangement was demonstrated and if you have reason to believe that the study will continue.
These articles also include suggestions from the series “Conducting Progressive Bible Studies,” which appeared in the July 2004 through May 2005 issues of Our Kingdom Ministry.
Any reference to a male student also applies to a female student.
Watch the four-minute video Teaching Our Students to Prepare. In JW Library®, go to MEDIA > OUR MEETINGS AND MINISTRY > IMPROVING OUR SKILLS.
Go to BIBLE TEACHINGS > BIBLE STUDY TOOLS.
In JW Library®, go to MEDIA > OUR MEETINGS AND MINISTRY > TOOLS FOR THE MINISTRY.