One of the biggest killers of a small-group home Bible study program is a lack of visitors. The easiest way to get visitors is to invite your friends and family to the studies. But, after a short time, you will exhaust this resource and need to try something different. The best way to get visitors to come on a steady and ongoing basis is to invite everyone you come in contact with.
Here is the tool I currently use to invite people. I walk up to someone and say, Hello, I attend a small-group Bible study that is hosted in a home. We try to apply the Bible to our lives and learn from the life of Jesus. We are looking for new people to come. Would you be interested? If they appear interested at all, you must ask for their phone number! If they won't give it, leave them a card. If they say that they work evenings and couldn't attend, flip the card over and ask them if they want the first lesson of a free Bible correspondence course. Say, You can study the Bible in the privacy of your own home at your own speed. Just fill in your name, address, and phone number and I will see that you get lesson one.
Generally, you will have to invite 50 people (50 attempts to establish a dialogue) to get one person who holds promise. Develop the routine of devoting one hour a week to intensive inviting in the parks, malls, campuses, etc. It takes boldness; but if you develop the lifestyle of inviting all you come in contact with, you will overflow with visitors every week. You must invite this way in order to have ongoing success. There is no middle ground or room for any half-hearted effort! Either each Christian commits to invite like this, or don't bother starting up the program.
Just as members are vitally important for bringing visitors, they also play a key role on the night of the study. If you have someone who says that they will come, it is best to offer to pick them up. This makes it more difficult for them to change their mind about attending. Everyone should be at the study ten minutes before it begins. Once you arrive at the home where the study is hosted, think of the study as having three stages. This will help to understand what is being accomplished.
The icebreaking stage continues from the time people arrive until you actually start the study. Imagine how you would feel as a visitor when you walk into a strange home for the first time and see an assembled group, all seated, very quiet, and looking at you. You would feel uneasy and out of place. At that point a visitor might say to himself, How did I get myself into this? One way to overcome this problem is to create a warm, casual, and genuinely friendly atmosphere. A few basic guidelines can be adopted to help the visitors feel relaxed and comfortable. I suggest that everyone remain standing and strike-up conversations with members and especially with visitors. Be enthusiastic. The result should be a smooth transition as you start the study. Don't stand around and look bored. Show how glad you are to be there. Visitors will pick up the pulse of the group. If they feel they just walked into a morgue or feel intimidated at the beginning, it's harder to get them to return. Look ahead to when the study begins. Do each of the visitors have a Bible? Have at least five extra Bibles ready for use. Can they find verses for themselves? If not, make sure an appropriate person sits beside them to help. The Christian can find the verse in his Bible and then swap Bibles with the visitor. Or, they can share one Bible. Start on time!
During the study the most important thing is to create interest and salt their appetite for further study. Remember, they came because you advertised the study to them by saying, We apply the Bible to our lives in a practical way; you will enjoy the study. If the study is not interesting, they may not return! You were guilty of false advertising. One of the goals of the study is to get every visitor to openly participate by making comments. Here is an easy way of getting the visitors to contribute right at the start. If the topic is Dealing with Stress in the Workplace (Ex. 18:13:27), then ask an opening question like What would you do if you were expected to do the work of two people and were continuously overloaded with work? Have each person attending introduce themselves and then give their answer. Before you have each person make comments, instruct the group to say pass if they can't think of an answer or don't want to respond. Although the teacher's outline preparation is important, the Christians present will truly make or break the study. They can salvage a poorly prepared outline or kill even the Lord's own sermon on the mount ! They must work hard at participating. They are assistant teachers!
Since the studies are hosted in a home, it is natural to have some light refreshments following the study session. This time is dedicated to building relationships and starting friendships. Designate someone beforehand to prepare and bring the refreshments. This should be on a rotating basis. Also, designate someone to be the babysitter in case visitors bring their children. Christians should make their own babysitting arrangements.
Immediately after the study, the Christians should invite the visitors to have some refreshments. The visitors will certainly not make the first move. Talk with each visitor yourself but give others a chance to greet them as well. Make sure no visitors are left unattended for an extended period of time. Christians must be especially careful about spending a lot of time talking about highly personal matters with other Christians. Visitors will feel out-of-place if they sense there are social cliques.
For conduct during the study, the group members (Christians) might consider adopting the following list of guidelines.
Once a visitor has come to the study group a few times, ask him/her if he/she would be interested in studying on a one-on-one basis. Teach them the gospel and listen for the rejoicing of the angels!
Ad placed in the Newspaper free of charge in the community bulletin section:
Please place this notice in the Bulletin board
Small group Bible study Special meetings are beginning May 17 for seven weeks. Exciting and challenging, Applying the Bible to our lives. Hosted in homes every Monday night at 7 PM. Free. For more information call ****
SMALL GROUP STUDY
Every Monday 7pm
Invitation Presented By: "name of member" ______
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