To give or to guide… that is the question

ladies-studyKayla* has three friends who aren’t believers. Because she desired to share the gospel with them, Kayla attended a TERM Seminar to be better equipped. After the seminar, Kayla knew she wanted to use GoodSeed resources with her friends. But should she give them each a book and leave it at that? Or should she offer to guide them through a study?

We encourage believers to share the good news through two primary ways: give and guide. To elaborate, give means to take one of our books, audiobooks or videobooks and give it to a friend. Guide means to take the resources and lead a gospel Bible study. Both methods work. We have numerous testimonies of how people have come to faith in Christ because a friend gave them a book or guided them through a study. But in Kayla’s situation, which option would be better?

Let’s explore the merits of each option in turn.

When to give away a tool

Giving away a book or other resource is easy to do. Here are six reasons.

1. Fleeting opportunities. Sometimes, you only have a few moments to share the gospel. How can you do that in less than five minutes? Suppose you’re in a conversation with your hairdresser, a fellow traveller on a plane, or the plumber who’s come to fix a leaky pipe and you sense an opportunity. What do you do? In such circumstances, giving a book is your only option. You may never see this person again so putting a carefully-crafted gospel presentation in their hands is the best thing to do. We encourage believers to be prepared with a Be Ready Box for such occasions.

2. Distance. Sharing the gospel with someone at a distance is always a challenge. When your friend is in the next city or on the other side of the globe, the most efficient way to share the gospel is to send a book or ebook to them. Include a note to encourage them to read and pray the Lord will use the material to great effect.

3. Hesitancy. Perhaps you have friends who are coy when the conversation turns toward spiritual matters. They are half-hearted, sometimes indicating they want to hear more about God, other times, they change the subject. For such friends, it’s best to hand them a book and say, “Here’s an objective book that peels away all the religious talk to let the Bible speak for itself. Why don’t you have a read and see if this satisfies your curiosity about what the Bible is all about?”

4. Resistance. Once in a while, you’ll encounter someone who appears entirely closed to the gospel. They aren’t interested in religion or worse, are antagonistic towards believers. Perhaps it’s a parent, a sibling or a co-worker. Inviting them to a study is out of the question. However, presenting a book may work. You might say: “Why don’t you take just a little time to learn what the Bible really has to say about life and death, and life after death? Why not learn for yourself before rejecting it completely?” This is an appeal to being reasonable and your friend may acquiesce.

5. Intimidation. Your friend may feel pressured if you offer to do a study. The idea of being trapped for hours studying something they’re not familiar with may put some people off. They feel intimidated and as believers, we should never put someone on the spot. Giving a book on these occasions allows them to learn at their own pace. Just let them know you’re available whenever they want to talk.

6. Convenience. You may be nervous about leading a Bible study. Even having a 30-minute conversation about the good news makes your palms sweaty. You want to share… but how? Giving away a book makes evangelism doable. It’s easy. Anyone can do it, including you.

Those are six reasons when giving a book is a great way to share the gospel. Now, how about guiding a study? Here are three good reasons.

When to guide a study

1. Accountability. You have a friend who has shown interest but who you know lacks the commitment to finish a book. If you offer to guide a study, they may be willing to study the book together. A Bible study provides the structure and discipline to complete a study. You’re ensuring the book is studied and completed in a timely manner.

2. Increased comprehension. For some friends, they may read through the book but not understand everything they’ve read. If you’re not around to take questions, they may give up in confusion. But if you guide them through a study, you’ll be there to answer questions and clarify points. Additionally, if you take advantage of the workbook, the visual aids and the video clips that are part of the materials, they’ll understand better.

3. Just not a reader. Perhaps your friend doesn’t enjoy reading or is a poor reader. In such a case, handing him a book isn’t going to have much impact. However, if you offer to sit down and do a study with them, they will be able to track along and learn.

one-on-one-study

Why guiding works better than giving

In some situations, giving a book is the only choice. But if circumstances allow you to choose, then consider these four reasons why you should choose guiding over giving.

1. It develops relationship. If you have a good relationship with a friend, it’s easier to offer to do a study together. During the course of the study, your friendship is bound to deepen. This is vital if your friend struggles to accept the implications of the Bible’s message. Sometimes, your friendship is what helps them choose to trust in Jesus. They trust you, and therefore are more inclined to trust the message you are presenting.

See how Dennis’s friendship helped Ian accept Christ and walk through a dark period in his life. >

2. It shows you care. When your friend sees that you are willing to devote time to teach them the Bible’s message, it shows how much you care. This encourages them to be attentive during the study.

3. It allows you to disciple them. Once your study concludes and your friend chooses to put their faith in Christ, your relationship allows you to help them in their journey as a disciple.

4. It allows you to follow up. At the end of the study, your friend may choose not to trust Christ for various reasons. A common one is that they need time to process what they’ve learned. Or there are issues in their life that cause them to wrestle with the Bible’s message. But because you’ve built a relationship through the course of the study, the door is open for further questions and discussions. This may eventually lead them to trust the Lord in the end.

Different ways to guide a study

Christ commanded us to be witnesses for him. Indeed, the gospel is a life-saving message and therefore important to share. Start by being aware of the opportunities to give away resources and at the same time, be alert to the Spirit’s prompting on opportunities to guide.

The Worldview Rethink curriculum that GoodSeed has developed provides a variety of ways to guide a study. Based on your circumstances, you can lead a study with just one person or a group. You simply read together, or take advantage of additional aids like workbooks, visual aids and video clips.

We’ve worked hard to make guiding a study as simple as possible. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the materials. In our experience, when we are prepared, the opportunities begin to present themselves.

Watch the video for different ways you can guide a study.

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

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