THE IMPORTANCE OF TOOLS
One of my passions is to gather as many "tools" as I can to put in my "toolbox" of ministry resources in order to minister to each person as effectively as possible.
Some situations call for specific tools, like dialoguing about Mormonism or Islam with a co-worker. Other situations, like doing a one on one Bible study, require different tools. Regardless of how you're engaging lostness or making disciples in your context, you need tools. Obviously, each person we minister to will be unique and therefore deserving of our respect and discernment in how we approach them or how we share the gospel.
My hope is provide you with all the tools I have found to be helpful and maybe they'll be of some value to you in your endeavor to engage your city, declare/demonstrate the gospel, make disciples, plant churches, and multiply leaders.
If you have some tools that you use that you don't see mentioned here, please share what's working for you here!
SIMPLE BOOKMARKS FOR PERSONAL AND GROUP BIBLE STUDY
One the questions I'm always trying to answer for believers, especially for first generation believers, is the "How" questions to the Christian life.
For example, everyone knows they should read their Bibles....but how? What does that process look like? What tools do I need? Do I need a study Bible?
Everyone knows they should pray...but how? Where do I start? What do I say?
Everyone knows they should invest their time in mentoring others and making disciples...but how? What do I do with these people? What questions do I ask?
The following bookmarks are three simple and introductory tools we've developed to help people easily study the Bible, pray, and make disciples. Obviously, the content on the bookmarks is not exhaustive yet we've found these to be helpful for new believers as well as believers who have been in church a long time. Ironically, many long term believers have never been shown some simple methods in these areas.
As with most of our resources, we've gathered tools from other people and books and have adapted them to our context. We print these for people and it's easily stored in their Bible throughout the week.
- The Discipleship Essentials questions came from Ralph Moore's book "Making Disciples". These questions are great for one on one discipleship relationships, as well as small group environments.
- The Prayer Essentials is the acronym A.C.T.S. which has been around for a long time, but Bryan and I came up with the questions under each section.
- The Bible Study Essentials is an adapted version of Howard Hendricks' book "Living by the Book" and is basically a simple hermeneutic method: 1) What do I see? 2) What is the timeless principle(s)? and 3) What am I going to do with this truth personally?
If you'd like to make your own bookmarks, you can find the Photoshop template files for all three bookmarks here.
HOW TO USE THESE BOOKMARKS
One of the best parts of these bookmarks is this: as long as someone knows how to read, they can lead a simple Bible study! For example, we have people lead Bible studies in the book of John all the time. They take a section at a time walking through the Bible study bookmark from #1 to #3. When they get to question #3 on application, you can infuse questions #2 and #3 from the Discipleship bookmark to make sure each person is working through their personal application from God's Word. The prayer bookmark can be incorporated either at the beginning of the meeting, or at the end. With these three simple bookmarks anyone can legitimately lead a simple Bible study.
Remember, one of the goals of Bible studies is not to dive to the depths and catch every nuance in every passage; the primary goal should be to hear from the Lord, submit to Him and His Word, and apply the Word to our lives in the coming week. This process is very simple yet it can adapted for greater complexity along the way, yet I'd caution you not to make it more complicated because our goal should be to equip each believer to feel empowered to not only be able to "get something" out of their Bible studies, but to also feel competent and confident in leading a simple Bible study with their spouse, children, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The greater the complexity the less reproducible the process will be for others as they make disciples.
Another helpful resource is using the Serendipity Bible for small groups. In this Bible, every section of Scripture has ice breaker questions, historical/context questions, and application questions written specifically for that section of Scripture. Some of the questions may be outdated but overall this is an incredible resource for training new believers in leading Bible studies and it also teaches them to be asking questions of the text as they go (like the Bible study bookmark).
Using these simple tools, we've seen our people radically empowered and they are now starting Bible studies in coffee shops, workplace break rooms, grocery store deli's, and in their own homes with their spouse and children.
GOSPEL SHARING TOOLS
Your 15 Second Story
This is a simple tool to share your story and the gospel in under 30 seconds. Choose two words that describe your life before Jesus. Then reflect on how Jesus changed your life and the basics of the gospel (Jesus came down, died on the cross to pay for your sin, ascended into heaven ruling and reigning). Then choose two words that describe your life after turning and following Jesus. Then at the end, ask the person: "Do you have a story like that?"
<-- BEFORE JESUS AFTER --> ASK: Do you have a story like that?
3 Circles: Gospel Sharing Method
The 3 Circles is a fantastic gospel sharing tool. It is simple and highly reproducible for anyone to learn and train others. It covers the most foundational elements of the biblical narrative. There are many different versions of the 3 Circles tool and I would encourage you to contextualize the language and the delivery to each person or community you're trying to share with.