Unless you’ve been a guest in a Bible study group lately, you’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s not fun.
Today people are visiting your church’s worship service long before they attempt to visit a Bible study group. Guests have all kinds of questions about what takes place in our groups. Although we know what happens, they do not. Unanswered questions lead to anxiety. Anxiety is a barrier to visiting a group. Not visiting a group leads to lower attendance. Lower attendance in groups leads to people falling away from active membership because they aren’t fully assimilated.
Here are 4 questions that are on the minds of the guests who may actually take a chance and darken the door to your group’s Bible study:
- Will I be asked to read out loud? The answer should be “no.” Never ask a guest to read out loud. You can ask for volunteers to read specific verses or portions of Scripture, but don’t put a guest on the spot. They may be unfamiliar with the Bible, and they may struggle with some of those hard-to-pronounce names. Just try asking a guest to read a verse with the name Mephibosheth in it and see what happens.
- Will someone ask me to pray in front of the group? This answer should be “no,” too. Like #1 above, don’t put a guest on the spot. You’d be surprised how many people are uncomfortable praying out loud and in front of others. The fear of public speaking is one of the highest ranking fears people have.
- Will I learn things that will help me day-to-day? Make sure that you connect the Bible to life and demonstrate how the Bible speaks to life today. Explain the history and background of the people and places mentioned in the Bible study to help people know the context, but don’t stop there. Leave time in the Bible study to help people see how to live out the Scriptures.
- Since I already attend worship, why should I go to a Bible study group? Some guests will mistakenly think that attending worship is all they need to do. Help them see the value of investing another hour of their time in a Bible study group with a group of their peers. Dr. Thom Rainer’s research has demonstrated that people who only attend worship have a high attrition rate; in fact, if a person only attends worship, about 85% of them cannot be found in five years! Belonging to a group matters – a lot!