“Each respective member . . . contributes to the growth of the body.”—EPH. 4:16.
SONG 85 Welcome One Another
1-2. Who can help a Bible student to progress to baptism?
“I LOVED what I was learning in my Bible study,” says Amy, who lives in Fiji. “I knew that it was the truth. But it was not until I began associating with the brothers and sisters that I made needed changes and progressed to baptism.” Amy’s experience highlights this important truth: A Bible student is more likely to make steady progress toward baptism when he receives help from others in the congregation.
2 Each publisher can contribute to the increase of the congregation. (Eph. 4:16) A pioneer named Leilani, who lives in Vanuatu, notes: “It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. I think the same is true about making disciples; it usually takes a congregation to bring someone into the truth.” Family members, friends, and teachers all play a role in helping a child to progress to maturity. They do this by encouraging the child and teaching him important lessons. Similarly, publishers can advise, encourage, and set a good example for Bible students, helping them to progress to baptism.—Prov. 15:22.
3. What do you learn from the comments made by Ana, Dorin, and Leilani?
3 Why should the publisher who conducts the Bible study welcome the help that other publishers can give the student? Note what Ana, a special pioneer in Moldova, says, “It is very difficult for one person to fill all the needs that a Bible student has when he starts to progress.” Dorin, a special pioneer serving in that same country, observes, “Often, other publishers say something that touches the student’s heart, something that I would never have thought of.” Leilani mentions another reason, “The love and warmth shown to the student can help him to identify Jehovah’s people.”—John 13:35.
4. What will we discuss in this article?
4 However, you may wonder, ‘How can I personally help a Bible student to progress when I am not the one who conducts the study?’ Let us consider what we can do when we are invited to sit in on a Bible study and what we can do when the Bible student begins to attend meetings. We will also see how elders can help Bible students to progress to baptism.
WHEN YOU SIT IN ON A BIBLE STUDY
5. What role do you play when you are invited to sit in on a Bible study?
5 At a Bible study, the teacher is primarily responsible for helping the student to understand God’s Word. If the teacher invites you to accompany him, you should view yourself as his partner. Your role is to support him. (Eccl. 4:9, 10) What, specifically, can you do to help make the Bible study session productive?
6. When you are going to sit in on a Bible study, how can you apply the principle found at Proverbs 20:18?
6 Prepare for the Bible study. First, ask the teacher to tell you a little about the student. (Read Proverbs 20:18.) You could ask: “What is the Bible student’s background? What topic will you be studying with him? What is your objective for this session? Is there anything that I should or should not do or say while at the study? What might encourage the student to progress?” Obviously, the teacher would not share any confidential information, but what he does share can be helpful. A missionary named Joy has this type of discussion with those who accompany her on a Bible study. She acknowledges: “This discussion helps my companion to be interested in the student and to know how to contribute to the study.”
7. Why do you as a companion need to prepare for the study?
7 If you are invited to sit in on a study, it would be good if you could prepare the material that will be discussed. (Ezra 7:10) Dorin, the brother quoted earlier, says: “I appreciate it when my companion prepares for the study. Then he can participate in a meaningful way.” Additionally, the student will likely notice that both of you are well-prepared, and this will set a good example for him. Even if you are not able to prepare the material thoroughly, at least take some time to get the key points of the lesson in mind.
8. How could you make sure that your prayer at a Bible study is meaningful?
8 Prayer is an important part of a Bible study session, so think in advance about what to say if you are asked to offer a prayer. Then your prayer will likely be more meaningful. (Ps. 141:2) Hanae, who lives in Japan, still remembers the prayers offered by a sister who accompanied her Bible teacher. She says: “I felt her strong friendship with Jehovah, and I wanted to be like her. I also felt loved when she included my name in her prayers.”
9. According to James 1:19, what can you do to be a helpful companion at a Bible study?
9 Support the teacher during the study. “A helpful companion follows along in the study,” says Omamuyovbi, a special pioneer in Nigeria. “The companion contributes meaningfully but does not talk too much, realizing that the teacher takes the lead.” How can you know when and how to contribute to the study? (Prov. 25:11) Listen attentively while the teacher and the student are talking. (Read James 1:19.) Only then will you be ready to assist if fitting. Of course, you must use good judgment. For instance, you would not want to talk too much, interrupt the teacher’s line of reasoning, or introduce a different topic. But with a brief comment, illustration, or question, you could help clarify the point being taught. At times, you may feel that you cannot add much to the study. But if you commend the student and show personal interest in him, you will do much to help him to progress.
10. How might your experience help a Bible student?
10 Share your experience. If it is appropriate, you could briefly tell the student how you learned the truth, how you overcame a challenge, or how you have seen Jehovah’s helping hand in your life. (Ps. 78:4, 7) Your experience could be just what the student needs to hear. It may strengthen his faith or encourage him to continue progressing to baptism. And it might show him how to overcome a trial that he is facing. (1 Pet. 5:9) Gabriel, who lives in Brazil and now serves as a pioneer, remembers how he benefited when he was studying the Bible. He recalls: “When I heard the brothers’ experiences, I learned that Jehovah sees the challenges we face. And if they could overcome them, I could too.”
WHEN THE BIBLE STUDENT ATTENDS MEETINGS
11-12. Why should we warmly welcome a Bible student who attends meetings?
11 For a Bible student to progress to baptism, he must regularly attend congregation meetings and benefit from them. (Heb. 10:24, 25) Likely, the teacher will invite him to his first meeting. When he attends, all of us can encourage him to keep on coming to the Kingdom Hall. How, specifically, can we do that?
12 Warmly welcome the student. (Rom. 15:7) If the student is made to feel welcome at the meetings, he will likely be more inclined to continue coming to the Kingdom Hall. Without overwhelming him, greet the student warmly, and introduce him to others. Do not assume that he is being cared for; the teacher may be delayed or have responsibilities to handle. Pay close attention to what the student says, and show a personal interest in him. What effect could your warm welcome have? Note the experience of Dmitrii, who was baptized just a few years ago and now serves as a ministerial servant. Recalling his first meeting, he says: “A brother saw me waiting nervously outside the Kingdom Hall and kindly accompanied me inside. Many came up to greet me. I was really surprised. I liked it so much that I wished we had a meeting every day of the week. I felt something I had not experienced anywhere else.”
13. What effect can your conduct have on a Bible student?
13 Set a good example. Your conduct can help to convince the Bible student that he has found the truth. (Matt. 5:16) Vitalii, who now serves as a pioneer in Moldova, says: “I learned how others in the congregation lived, thought, and behaved. This convinced me that Jehovah’s Witnesses truly walk with God.”
14. How might your example help someone to keep progressing?
14 To qualify for baptism, the student needs to apply what he is learning. This is not always easy. But when the student observes how you benefit from applying Bible principles, he may well be motivated to imitate you. (1 Cor. 11:1) Consider the experience of Hanae, mentioned earlier. She comments: “The brothers and sisters were living examples of what I was learning. I saw how I could be encouraging and forgiving and how I could show love. They always spoke favorably about others. I wanted to imitate them.”
15. How does Proverbs 27:17 help us to see why we should make friends with a Bible student as he continues attending meetings?
15 Make friends with the student. As the student continues attending meetings, keep showing personal interest in him. (Phil. 2:4) Why not talk with him? Without being too personal, you could commend him for any positive changes he has made and ask him about his Bible study, his family, and his work. These conversations might draw you closer together. When you befriend the student, you help him to progress to baptism. (Read Proverbs 27:17.) Hanae now serves as a regular pioneer. Recalling when she first started to attend meetings, she says: “As I made friends in the congregation, I began looking forward to the meetings, and I attended even when I felt tired. I enjoyed the company of my new friends, and this helped me to end my friendships with those who did not share my beliefs. I wanted to get closer to Jehovah and to the brothers and sisters. Hence, I decided to get baptized.”
16. What else can you do to help a Bible student to feel at home in the congregation?
16 As the student continues to progress and make changes, help him to feel that he belongs in the congregation. You can do this by being hospitable. (Heb. 13:2) Looking back on his days as a Bible student, Denis, who serves in Moldova, remembers: “Several times, my wife and I were invited to socialize with the brothers. We heard how they had seen Jehovah help them. That encouraged us. These occasions helped to convince us that we wanted to serve Jehovah and that a wonderful life awaited us.” Once the Bible student qualifies as a publisher, you can also invite him to accompany you in the ministry. Diego, a publisher from Brazil, says: “Many brothers invited me to go out in the ministry. This was the best way to get to know them well. As I did, I learned a lot, and I felt closer to Jehovah and Jesus.”
HOW CAN ELDERS HELP?
17. How can elders help Bible students?
17 Make time for Bible students. Elders, your loving interest can help students to progress to baptism. Could you regularly talk to Bible students at the meetings? They will sense your interest if you remember their name, especially when they start commenting. Could you rearrange your schedule every so often to accompany a publisher when he studies the Bible with someone? You may have a bigger impact on the student than you can imagine. A pioneer named Jackie, who lives in Nigeria, relates: “Many students are shocked to learn that the brother who accompanied me to their study is an elder. One Bible student said: ‘My pastor would never do that. He visits only the rich and only if they pay him!’” That student now attends meetings.
18. How can elders fulfill the responsibility entrusted to them as recorded at Acts 20:28?
18 Train and encourage Bible teachers. Elders, you have the weighty responsibility of helping publishers to be effective in their ministry, including their Bible study work. (Read Acts 20:28.) If someone is shy about conducting a Bible study in your presence, offer to conduct the study. Jackie, quoted earlier, relates: “Elders regularly inquire about my Bible students. When I face challenges in conducting a Bible study, they offer helpful advice.” Elders can do a great deal to encourage and to motivate the teachers to persevere. (1 Thess. 5:11) Jackie adds: “I like it when elders encourage me and tell me that they appreciate my hard work. Such words refresh me like a glass of cold water on a hot day. Their commendation boosts my confidence and increases the joy I get from the Bible study work.”—Prov. 25:25.
19. What joy can all of us have?
19 Even if we do not presently conduct a Bible study, we can still help someone to grow spiritually. Without taking over, we can with our well-prepared comments support the teacher during a study session. We can befriend the students when they come to the Kingdom Hall, and we can serve as good examples for them. And elders can encourage the students by making time for them and the teachers by training and commending them. Really, what greater joy could we have than knowing that we played even a small part in helping someone come to love and serve our Father, Jehovah?
SONG 79 Teach Them to Stand Firm
Not all of us presently have the privilege of conducting a Bible study. However, all of us can help someone to progress to baptism. In this article, we will see how each of us can help a student to reach that goal.