Reading the Bible with Non-Christian Friends

Here is a great article on a simple idea: getting together to read the Bible with your non-Christian friends. In her article Back to the Bible, author Laura T. De Gomez shares how she got started:

I’d heard through the grapevine that two coworkers . . . had expressed some interest in spiritual things. So I dropped by their office one day and said, “Hi! I’ve been meaning to ask you both: Would you be interested in reading the Bible with me?” They looked at each other, then back at me, and said yes.

I was surprised by their enthusiasm. When I didn’t get back to them as soon as they expected, they called me to find out when we could start!

From the beginning, they loved it. Their initial nervousness evolved into excitement as they discovered the Bible is relevant to everyday life. By the second or third week, they were captivated by Jesus. Within about eight weeks, they had a clear understanding of salvation by faith. That was eight years ago. Both continue to walk with Jesus today and remain my friends. And it all started with a simple invitation to read the Bible together.

De Gomez goes on to share some of the main lessons she has learned about reading the Bible with her nonbelieving friends:

Reading the Bible with my nonbelieving friends fosters a level of spiritual interaction that falls somewhere between casual friendship and an invitation to church. It creates a comfortable environment in which they can begin to look at Jesus, ask questions, and talk about life issues.

Reading together also exposes people directly to the power of Scripture. The God who encourages, convicts, corrects, and sometimes bowls you over with his Word can do the same in an unbeliever’s life.

So how do you get started? De Gomez recommends a natural and non-threatening approach:

As I get to know a neighbor or coworker, I look for non-threatening opportunities to talk about my convictions and identify their source as the Bible. After I’ve told someone I rely on the Bible to guide me in life, I follow up by casually suggesting we read it together. That step may seem like a big leap, but I’ve found it’s a natural progression . . .

I’ve learned it’s important to present this idea as “reading” the Bible, not “studying” the Bible. For most nonbelievers, the idea of studying Scripture sounds too intense. For nominally religious people, I ask if they would like to take a closer look for themselves at what the Bible says.

What do you do when you actually meet to read the Bible together?

When I meet with nonbelieving friends, we don’t sing or pray, and I don’t ask them to prepare anything in advance. We visit for a while, open our Bibles, read a passage out loud, and then talk about it. The first night we meet, I sometimes ask people to tell me about their spiritual journey.

De Gomez closes out the article with the following practical suggestions:

  1. Make sure your friends understand they aren’t signing up for life. Communicate a clear time frame.
  2. You can read with one nonbelieving friend or several at once.
  3. Short and sweet is best. One hour seems about right for most people.
  4. Be prepared for plenty of no-shows. Even if people are interested, it’s probably not the priority for them that it is for you.
  5. Consider the different advantages of meeting in different places (your home, your friend’s home, coffee shop, etc.)

Although De Gomez has written this article primarily for women, there is no reason us guys can’t do this too. You can read the whole article here. What do you all think about this? Have any of you tried reading the Bible with your non-Christian friends?

Update: See a follow-up to this post here.

4 Comments

  1. brad wright says:

    Interesting… I would have an easier time recommended just about any book to a friend other than the Bible. It’s almost like separation of church and state has extended to church and *everything*.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Reminds me of some Sara Groves lyrics from her song “Conversations.”

    I’m not trying to judge you, that’s not my job.
    I am just a seeker too, in search of God.

    Somewhere somehow this subject became taboo.
    I have no other way to communicate to you.
    This is all that I am, this is all that I have.

  3. Kathryn Post says:

    I think this article can be helpful for certain groups of “believing” friends as well. When I invited a Catholic friend to church with me and told her to bring a Bible, she was quite surprised. Even though she had grown up in a “Christian” environment, her Catholic church had not encouraged her to read God’s Word. After the service she told me how different it was to read along with the pastor. She really liked the knowing that God could speak to her through His Word as well as through ordained church officials.

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