Jerry Tallman has conducted thousands of evangelistic Bible studies through the years. He shared what he has learned with us in his workshop. What have we learned form Jerry?
Despite having conducted thousands of Bible studies, Jerry has never converted anyone. It is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The power to convert is in the message not the messenger.
We often worry about being rejected or messing up, but if the person is lost (separated from God because of sin), their situation is not going to be worse because we have attempted to share the good news. The person who is lost is in danger of being eternally lost unless he or she is rescued by the good news.
Jerry asked each night whether we had learned anything new, and the answer each night was no. What he talked about were things that we already knew. Our problem is not needing to know more, but to actually use what we already know.
All of us should be able to tell someone what God has done for us.
When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, he turned a conversation about physical things into a conversation about spiritual things. We need to think of ways of introducing the spiritual into our conversations as well. It may be in simply offering to pray for someone’s needs.
People need to see us as good news. It may be in service. It may be in the quality of our life seen as being different from the world. As Edgar Guest’s poem says, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” Seeing us as good news may be the preparation for them to hear the good news.
We don’t have to have all the answers. It is fair to say, “That’s a good question, let me write that one down.” Questions can then become studies. You can research what the Bible says and get back to the person for a further study.
Studying with a person is letting them read what the Bible has to say for themselves. It is not us telling them what we think. We just help them to find the passages. If they object to what the Bible says, then their argument is with God not us.
We need to meet the lost, reach them, and keep them. We all need to think of ways of meeting the people in our lives and getting them to think about spiritual things. Not all of us will be the ones to reach them, that is, actually do a one-on-one study with them. But we all have a part in meeting people and introducing the gospel to them and being the bridge between them and people who can study with them. We also need to keep them. The whole body of Christ plays a part in maturing the new Christian. All of us have things that we can do to make this an evangelistic church.
Jerry reminded us that spiritual swords are sharpened to be used.