When evangelizing, we may be tempted to teach all the truth we know at once. But new believers need time to assimilate and grow into the new information they have received.
Strips of paper with bad gardening tips written on them (e.g., too much water, no fertilizer, too much shade, etc.), a basket, washable watercolor paints, blank white paper, markers
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Take turns reading the bad gardening tips. Discuss how each tip could negatively affect a vegetable or flower garden. Then discuss the spiritual parallels.
- Read the parable in Luke 8:4-15. Choose one of the four soils and paint a picture of it as it’s described in the Bible. With a marker, write possible scenarios that can cause your seed to die or flourish.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- What timeline should you follow when teaching a new believer the truths of Scripture? Does the Bible give us any counsel? If so, what is it?
- Thought Questions
Read Luke 9:11. How can we follow this example of offering people physical and spiritual healing?
- We can manipulate them into the church by seeming to care about their physical needs first.
- This text says the crowds came to Jesus; we need to have something desirable to give, too.
- This text says Jesus “welcomed them”; we need to welcome those who come to us.
- We should never turn away anyone who needs help, regardless of his or her motives.
- If we truly care about the lost, we’ll care about all their needs and do our best to meet them.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. What are some modern-day examples of giving new believers solid spiritual food before milk?
- Teaching the do’s and don’ts of Sabbath-keeping before presenting the gospel
- Teaching appropriate Christian attire and adornment before presenting the gospel
- Teaching what to eat and drink before presenting the gospel
- Teaching about appropriate entertainment before presenting the gospel
- Teaching ancient Greek and Hebrew word definitions in key Bible passages before presenting the gospel
Read John 6:54-66. Why do some leave the truth when they realize it takes study and effort to understand it?
- They want an instant religion—one that pays off immediately.
- They don’t want to have to put forth the effort it takes to learn truth.
- They must not really love God; if they did, they would try to understand God’s teachings.
- There is no one who will patiently take the time to teach them the truth in Scripture.
- They don’t want to apply the truth to their lives because it takes sacrifice to do so.
Read Luke 8:4-15. What does this parable teach us about witnessing and evangelizing?
- Sowing the seed is not enough—you have to take care of the seed.
- Some will hear the truth, but the devil will snatch it away before the seed is firmly established.
- Some will believe, but because they aren’t strong enough, they will leave when trials come.
- Some will believe but will choose to trade the truth for what the world offers.
- Those who make it will be the ones who deliberately choose to hang on to the truth.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Do some role-play evangelism. One person is a lifelong Christian, and the other is a brand-new believer. The older Christian will try to “stuff solid food” down the new believer’s throat in an insensitive, intense way. Now switch methods. When finished, discuss which method worked better.
- Option 2: Ask your pastor if your group can write a small pamphlet for church members on how to do sequential evangelism and witnessing. Make the pamphlet available to fellow church members if appropriate.
- Option 3: Make a list of the harmful effects of evangelizing or witnessing at a pace that’s too fast. What are some possible scenarios and outcomes?
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Do you find yourself trying to share too much truth too quickly with new believers? What motivates you to do this? Ask God to help you slow down and think before you speak. Ask God to show you the right words at the right time.
- Think of the four seeds mentioned in Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-15. Do you know an individual who is living out one of these descriptions? What does he or she need most from you? Ask God to show you, and then go and help.