“God is . . . giving you both the desire and the power to act.”—PHIL. 2:13.
SONG 64 Sharing Joyfully in the Harvest
1. What has Jehovah done for you?
HOW did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? First, you heard “the good news”—maybe from your parents, from a workmate or a schoolmate, or by means of the door-to-door preaching work. (Mark 13:10) Then, someone spent a lot of time and effort conducting a Bible study with you. During that study, you came to love Jehovah and you learned that he loves you. Jehovah drew you to the truth, and now, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have the prospect of living forever. (John 6:44) You are no doubt grateful to Jehovah that He motivated someone to teach you the truth and that He accepted you as one of His servants.
2. What will we discuss in this article?
2 Now that we know the truth, we have the privilege of helping others join us on the road to life. We may be comfortable preaching from door to door, but we may find it challenging to offer and conduct Bible studies. Is that how you feel? If so, perhaps you will find some of the suggestions in this article helpful. We will discuss what motivates us to help make disciples. We will also consider how we can overcome challenges that might hold us back from conducting a Bible study. First, let us consider why we must be not only preachers but also teachers of the good news.
JESUS COMMISSIONED US TO PREACH AND TO TEACH
3. Why do we preach?
3 When Jesus was on the earth, he gave his followers a two-fold commission. First, he told them to preach the good news of the Kingdom, and he showed them how to go about it. (Matt. 10:7; Luke 8:1) Among other things, Jesus prepared his disciples for both a negative and a positive response to the Kingdom message. (Luke 9:2-5) He also foretold the extent of their preaching activity, telling them that his followers would give “a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14; Acts 1:8) Regardless of how people responded to the preaching, the disciples were to tell people about God’s Kingdom and what it would accomplish.
4. According to Matthew 28:18-20, what must we do in addition to preaching about the Kingdom?
4 What was the second part of the commission that Jesus gave? He told his followers to teach potential disciples to observe all the things he had commanded. But would this preaching and teaching work be confined to the first century, as some may claim? No, Jesus indicated that this vital work would continue even down to our day, “until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Read Matthew 28:18-20.) Jesus likely gave that commission when he appeared to more than 500 of his disciples. (1 Cor. 15:6) And in the revelation he gave to John, Jesus clearly indicated that all his disciples are expected to help others learn about Jehovah.—Rev. 22:17.
5. According to 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, how did Paul illustrate the connection between preaching and teaching?
5 The apostle Paul likened the work of disciple-making to cultivating a crop, showing that we must do more than plant seeds. He reminded the Corinthians: “I planted, Apollos watered . . . You are God’s field under cultivation.” (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.) As workers in “God’s field,” not only do we plant the seeds but we water them and regularly check the progress of our plantings. (John 4:35) At the same time, we recognize that it is God who makes the seed grow.
6. What does our work as teachers involve?
6 We are looking for those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.” (Acts 13:48) To assist those individuals in becoming disciples, we must help them to (1) understand, (2) accept, and (3) put into practice the things they learn from the Bible. (John 17:3; Col. 2:6, 7; 1 Thess. 2:13) All in the congregation can help Bible students by setting an example in showing these new ones love and in making them feel welcome when they attend meetings. (John 13:35) The one conducting the study may also have to spend much time and energy helping a student overturn “strongly entrenched” beliefs or practices. (2 Cor. 10:4, 5) It may take many months to guide an individual through these steps so that he eventually reaches the goal of baptism. But it is well worth the effort.
LOVE MOTIVATES US TO MAKE DISCIPLES
7. What motivates us to share in the preaching and disciple-making work?
7 Why do we engage in the preaching and disciple-making work? First, because we love Jehovah. When you do your best to obey the command to preach and make disciples, you are demonstrating your love for God. (1 John 5:3) Think of this: Your love for Jehovah has already moved you to preach from house to house. Was that command easy to obey? Probably not. When you approached your very first door in the preaching work, were you nervous? No doubt you were! But you knew that this is the work that Jesus wants you to do, and you obeyed the command. And likely, with time, it has become easier for you to engage in the preaching work. Now what about conducting a Bible study? Does the very thought make you nervous? Perhaps. However, when you ask Jehovah to help you overcome your nervousness and muster up courage to offer a Bible study, Jehovah can help you to strengthen your desire to make disciples.
8. According to Mark 6:34, what else can move us to teach others?
8 Second, love for our neighbors moves us to teach them the truth. On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples were exhausted from their intensive preaching activity. They needed a place where they could rest, but a large crowd found them. Moved with pity, Jesus began teaching the people “many things.” (Read Mark 6:34.) He exerted himself on that occasion. Why? Jesus put himself in the place of the people in the crowd. He saw how much they were suffering—how much they needed hope—and he wanted to help them. People today are in the same condition. Do not be misled by their outward appearance. They are like sheep straying helplessly, having no shepherd to guide them. The apostle Paul described people like this as being without God and having no hope. (Eph. 2:12) They are on “the road leading off into destruction”! (Matt. 7:13) When we consider the spiritual condition of those in our territory, love and compassion move us to help them. And the best way we can help is by offering to study the Bible with them.
9. According to Philippians 2:13, how can Jehovah help you?
9 Perhaps you hesitate to offer a Bible study because you are aware of the commitment of time that a study will require. If that is the case, share your feelings with Jehovah. Ask him to help you cultivate the desire to find and conduct a study. (Read Philippians 2:13.) The apostle John assured us that God will answer prayers that are in harmony with His will. (1 John 5:14, 15) So you can be sure that Jehovah will help you cultivate the desire to have a share in making disciples.
OVERCOMING OTHER CHALLENGES
10-11. What may hold us back from conducting a Bible study?
10 We take seriously our commission to teach even though we face challenges that may keep us from doing as much as we would like to do in making disciples. Let us consider what some of those challenges are and how we can overcome them.
11 We may feel limited by our circumstances. For example, some publishers are older or have poor health. Does that describe your situation? If it does, consider one of the lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have discovered that we can conduct effective Bible studies electronically! So you may be able to start and conduct a study from the comfort of your own home. And there is another advantage. Some would enjoy studying the Bible, but they are not available during the times our brothers usually set aside for preaching. However, they may be available early in the morning or late at night. Might you be able to make yourself available to fill that need? Jesus taught Nicodemus at night, which was a time that Nicodemus preferred.—John 3:1, 2.
12. What factors give us confidence that we can be effective teachers?
12 We may lack confidence in our ability to conduct a Bible study. Perhaps we feel that we should have more knowledge or skill as a teacher before we can study with someone. If this is how you feel, consider three factors that can bolster your confidence. First, Jehovah considers you qualified to teach others. (2 Cor. 3:5) Second, Jesus, who has ‘all authority in heaven and on the earth,’ has authorized you to teach. (Matt. 28:18) And third, you can rely on others to help you. Jesus relied on what his Father taught him to say and speak, and so can you. (John 8:28; 12:49) In addition, you can ask your field service group overseer, a qualified pioneer, or an experienced publisher to help you to start and conduct a Bible study. One way you could gain confidence is by sitting in on a Bible study conducted by one of these publishers.
13. Why do we need to be adaptable?
13 We may find it challenging to adapt to new methods and new tools. The way that we conduct Bible studies has now changed. Our principal study publication, Enjoy Life Forever!, requires that we prepare for the study and conduct it differently from how we did in the past. We read fewer paragraphs and have more of a conversation with the student. When teaching, we use more videos and electronic resources, such as JW Library®. If you are not comfortable using these tools, talk to someone who can help you learn to use them. We humans are creatures of habit. It is not easy for us to adapt to new ways of doing things. But with Jehovah’s help and the help of others, you will find it easier to adjust and even more enjoyable to study with people. As one pioneer said, this method of study is “refreshing for both the student and the teacher.”
14. What should we remember when working in difficult territory, and how is 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7 encouraging to us?
14 We may live in a territory where it is difficult to start Bible studies. People may seem to be indifferent to our message or even opposed to it. What can help us remain positive in such territory? Remember that people’s circumstances can change quickly in this turbulent world, and those who were once not interested may become conscious of their spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) Some who always in the past refused our literature later accepted a Bible study. We also know that Jehovah is the Master of the harvest. (Matt. 9:38) He wants us to keep planting and watering, but he is the One responsible for the growth. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) And how encouraging it is to be reminded that even if we are not able to conduct a Bible study at present, Jehovah rewards us based on our efforts, not on our results!*
EXPERIENCE THE JOY OF MAKING DISCIPLES
15. How does Jehovah feel when someone accepts a Bible study and acts on what he is learning?
15 Jehovah rejoices when a person accepts Bible truth and shares that truth with others. (Prov. 23:15, 16) How great Jehovah’s joy must be when he sees what is happening today! For example, despite a global pandemic during the 2020 service year, 7,705,765 Bible studies were conducted, which helped 241,994 people to dedicate themselves to Jehovah and get baptized. These new disciples will, in turn, conduct Bible studies and make more disciples. (Luke 6:40) Without doubt, we make Jehovah happy when we share in the disciple-making work.
16. What is a good goal?
16 Making disciples is hard work, but with Jehovah’s help we can play a part in teaching new ones to love our heavenly Father. Could we set the goal of starting and conducting at least one Bible study? We may be surprised to see what will happen if we use every appropriate occasion to ask those whom we meet to study with us. We can be sure that Jehovah will bless our efforts.
17. What will we experience if we are able to conduct a Bible study?
17 What a privilege we have both to preach and to teach the truth to others! This work makes us genuinely happy. The apostle Paul, who helped many in Thessalonica to become disciples, expressed his feelings this way: “What is our hope or joy or crown of exultation before our Lord Jesus at his presence? Is it not in fact you? You certainly are our glory and joy.” (1 Thess. 2:19, 20; Acts 17:1-4) Many today have felt that same way. A sister named Stéphanie who, along with her husband, has helped a number of individuals to come to the point of baptism says, “There is no greater joy than helping people to dedicate themselves to Jehovah.”
SONG 57 Preaching to All Sorts of People
Jehovah has given us the privilege not only of preaching to others but also of teaching them to observe all the things that Jesus commanded. What motivates us to want to teach others? What challenges do we face in the preaching and disciple-making work? And how can we overcome those challenges? This article will answer those questions.
For a discussion of what part we play in making disciples, see the article “As a Congregation, Help Bible Students to Progress to Baptism,” published in the March 2021 issue of The Watchtower.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: See the changes a Bible study can bring about in a person’s life: At first a man’s life seems to be without purpose, alienated from Jehovah. Then Witnesses meet him in the preaching work, and he accepts a Bible study. What he is taught leads to his dedication and baptism. In time, he too becomes a disciple-maker. Finally, they all enjoy life in Paradise.