Someone online just expressed interest in studying the Bible with you! Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared.
- Pray and study for yourself
It’s nearly impossible to share something you don’t have. We are told to “study so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2. Tim. 2:15). The best way to prepare for studying with another person is through your own prayer and Bible study. The Holy Spirit is the One who will be doing the work, so it’s crucial to ensure He is leading. By seeking God through prayer, we give Him the opportunity to give us wisdom in what will be discussed.
- Speak the truth in love
A character from a familiar holiday film asked, “Which one is better: a truth that draws a tear, or a lie that draws a smile?” While many will debate this question for some time, life shows that a lie that draws a smile will eventually draw tears. Jesus said, “I am…the Truth” (John 14:6). It is not productive to withhold statements, verses, or lessons just because we fear how the student will feel about it.
That said, when sharing Christ, always do so with love. Love is not solely occupied with a person’s feelings but their eternal well-being. This does not mean that feelings are disregarded, but love for God and for others will guide us in how we should share precious truth. Debates and heated arguments will bring more harm than good. Using lots of exclamation marks!!!, bold type, and CAPITALIZATION can convey that you are “shouting” through the screen, which will cause a person to become uncomfortable and defensive. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights” (2 Tim. 2:23). Read more about this in the article, ‘What’s the Purpose of Online Bible Study?’.
- Share your personal story
If you want to convince someone about how great something is, the best proof you have is your personal experience. It’s hard to discredit someone’s personal testimony! When conducting Bible study online, remember that the person has access to a plethora of information about the Bible and who Jesus is. You bring something unique—your experience with Jesus. Share what He has done to change you or bring you through difficult situations. Describe the impact the Bible has on your heart.
Consider this: One of the main reasons social media is so popular is because it allows us to share personal experience. You can do the same during an online Bible study.
- Don’t pretend to have all the answers
We won’t have all the answers for common issues of life, so it shouldn’t surprise you if you can’t answer every question a person may have about God or the Bible. After all, God is “past finding out” (Rom. 11:33)!
Many are hesitant about giving a Bible study because they fear being unable to answer a question. It’s perfectly ok to say, “I don’t know,” or “I’m still studying that myself!” or “we won’t find out until Christ comes.” What you don’t want to do is give the impression that you know it all. This will not only turn a person off from studying with you, but it will close your heart from growing in the Spirit.
- Choose your method and platform
You have several options for carrying out your study. Free video calling software allows you to interact with people directly, which also reduces the risks of misunderstanding a concept over emails, texts, or comments. FreeConference, Zoom, and Google, to name a few, allow you to hold meetings with up to 50 people at a time.
You also have the choice to record a live Bible study and make it available to others. While this option doesn’t give as much opportunity for engagement as the first, it is still a good way to allow people to learn or watch at their own pace. Google Hangouts on Air allows you to do this, and Jing, Camstasia,and RecordIt are all screencasting options available on Windows or Mac. (Screencasting refers to the recording of activity on your computer screen and later adding a voice over.)
- Build a relationship
Christ’s method of evangelism was heavily based on building relationships. The first thing He did before He began a ministry was to cultivate a community for relationships to grow. The online world thrives because it fosters a sense of community that transcends location. Relationships can be easily formed.
When you grow a relationship with someone, you learn the person’s needs, goals, desires, joys, pains, and hopes. After becoming sincerely interested in someone’s heart, God can show you the best way to reach them. God said that it wasn’t good for the first man created to be alone. Even though he lived in a perfect world, Adam still needed relationship. Even though your Bible studies are online, you still have a chance to connect with people in a meaningful way.
- Be passionate
Have you ever met an unenthusiastic salesperson? Chances are they haven’t made many sales. The most passionate people are those who “truly believe in what they believe.” These are the people who can easily spark interest because others are drawn to their passion. While your passion will not convict someone’s heart (that’s the Holy Spirit’s work), it will certainly capture someone’s attention.
The Apostle Paul tells us to “be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). A Christian without a passion for Christ is like a fire that doesn’t give off any heat. If you are truly in love with the Lord, you will be excited about His love and the forgiveness you have found in Him. Because of this, people will be drawn to the fire in you, whether online or offline.
Online Bible study is just like inviting a friend to exercise with you—you both will learn and grow stronger together. The enemy will use fear and doubt to discourage you, but you must claim the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples when He sent them into all the world; “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).