1. Invite your friends
Share about meaningful moments in your life (perhaps a retreat or a prayer experience was really powerful for you) without using Christian jargon and language that is inaccessible to non-Christians. Stoke curiosity (Threshold 2) and invite openness (Threshold 3) as you share about your own struggles, failures, and hope-- and how Jesus is shaping that journey. As you share your lives together, it won't stay a secret for long that your faith is an important and regular part of your life.
Think about where you friends are on the five thresholds. Who is at threshold 3 or higher? These are the friends to invite to a GIG.
You could say something along these lines:
"A lot of people have heard about Jesus, but very few have actually gotten to look at his stories and words for themselves. I'm inviting a couple people to look at those stories about the person of Jesus for themselves. Would you be open to joining?"
“Every thinking person owes it to themselves to form an adult opinion about Jesus. I’m creating a discussion group for people to do that. Would you like to join?”
Then hold your breath, pray, and trust God for the answer.
If they say "no," tell them that you would have really enjoyed having them be a part of the discussion, but you understand that now may not be the best time; this will keep the door open to ask them again at a later time. Though it may feel like a personal rejection, it's simply a sign that they are not yet at a point of spiritual curiosity (Threshold Two). Continue the friendship and continue to pray.
If they say "yes," agree on a time and place and ask if they can think of others who may want to join. You may be surprised by how many people are open to make a four-week commitment to study the Bible
2. Prep for the meeting
Decide on meeting location. It doesn't really matter where you meet (a dorm room, a coffee shop, the park) as long as the setting allows you to be comfortable, focus, and freely share and pray.
Pray for and have others pray for the meeting. Choose a text. Pray over, study, and become familiar with the text. But most of all, ask the Lord to apply the text to your life. Anticipate questions or points that will be hard to understand, and provide some basic context for the passage, but don't overdo it. This is not a seminary class. Give them enough to get the context of the story. Focus on the person of Christ in the passage and think of questions that will help your friends encounter Jesus rather than accumulate theological knowledge.
The narratives in the gospels are an ideal starting point because they focus on Christ and how he relates to others. Check out the Come and See GIG featuring 5 studies in the gospel of John. There are other studies available on a variety of passages and topics in the GIG section.
Print out the passage as handouts. Printed passages allow people to write in the margin and also avoid any confusion that may stem from trying to navigate the Bible.
3. Facilitate the discussion
Keep Your Friend In Mind
Make it comfortable. Provide a safe environment and tasty snacks. Set a comfy, friendly, engaging tone with some ground rules like being curious, asking questions, and committing to spiritual growth. Don’t use Christian jargon when you speak, use language that everyone has access to it’s full meaning. Don’t go into overtime: 30-45 minutes is suitable for a one-on-one GIG, and group GIGs shouldn't need to be longer than an hour. Consider whether a 10-minute GIG (or “instaGIG”) might serve an uber-busy friend better instead.
Facilitating Good Conversation
Your job as leader is to guide people in discovering what the text says about Jesus and provide opportunities to respond to him. You do not have to have all the answers--the authority rests with the text. Relax, ask questions, listen, don't preach, and let God surprise you. Share openly and honestly, your responsiveness to the text and your trust will help set the tone for others.
Read the passage together and take time to study the text. Ask people to note things they find interesting, puzzling, or bothersome.
The following questions will help people engage with the story:
What is one thing you like about this passage?
What is one question you have?
What is one thing you want to put into action from this?
Focus the attention on Jesus and his interactions with people in the passage. Ask what people observe about Jesus' actions, motives, and attitudes. Pray that the Holy Spirit would grant supernatural insights and expect God to open the hearts of the participants and give them insights into the text.
Create an atmosphere of openness and interaction.
Encourage everyone to participate. Don't be too concerned about agreeing with every comment or answering every question that is brought up.
Listen to their opinions and thank them for their observations: "That's interesting, I've never looked at the passage from that angle."
Then refocus the discussion on the text. If someone has a question that stumps you, thank her for the thoughtful question and invite her to discuss the answer one-on-one after you've researched the issue. You are learners together.
Make it Personal
The power of scripture comes alive when your friend has an opportunity to call on Jesus just like what is modeled in the scripture. Good stories make things clear, gripping, accessible, and compelling. Always have your own story (hopefully a current one) to help the text come alive. No one can argue with your experience.
Prayer is excellent way to help your friend begin to engage with God in a personal way. When praying for your friend, keep your prayers brief and straightforward. You are modeling prayer as an easy way to begin to engage with God-- but long prayers filled with Christian references can make prayer feel like it is something for Christians only.
What’s the next step for your friend? Is there a way your friend wants to try on faith in Jesus inspired by the scripture?
Another way to make room for spiritual application and growth is to share prayer requests and to pray for your friends. They may not be used to speaking to God out loud in an informal manner, but most will be happy if you lead the prayer and thus model that a relationship with the living God includes intimate communication.
4. Follow up & stay in touch between sessions
What happens in between meetings is as important as the study itself because the study is just one aspect of your relationship.
Meet one-on-one with participants, especially if the study has more than two people, to continue to nurture the friendship and also provide an opportunity to debrief the study. Enjoy your times together and ask lots of questions about what's going on in their lives, what they are doing, and what they think about the study and Jesus. Take time to listen to their questions and thoughts. They may have things they'd rather discuss in private with you instead of in the group.
If you have prayed for your friend during the Bible study, ask him what has happened as a result of that prayer. This is a powerful way for seekers to experience God's care and power.
5. Finish strong
Throughout the GIG, you have been praying and discerning where your friend is on his spiritual journey. As mentioned above, asking questions that stimulate spiritual reflection and response is a great way to gauge your friend's progress.
As you come to the final meeting of your GIG, invite your friends to continue your spiritual journey together.
If your friend is open to continue studying the Bible, suggest starting another four-week series, meeting one-on-one for Bible study, or attending a fellowship small group.
If your friend indicates that she'd rather not continue with Bible study, assure her that you really enjoyed your times together and continue to meet on a social basis, praying for further opportunities to share your life and faith.
If you sense that your friend may be open to take the next step in following Jesus, ask if you can share a summary of the central message of the Bible with him. There are many helpful tools to share the gospel; the Big Story Gospel Presentation is just one. Familiarize yourself with tools like theses and take time to practice them with one of your prayer partners or a Christian friend.
When sharing the gospel, pray that the Lord would touch your friend's heart. If she is not yet ready to surrender to Christ, thank her for letting you explain the gospel and for allowing you to share your beliefs with her. If your friend is ready to follow Christ, lead her in a prayer of repentance, welcome her into Christ's family, discuss next steps for spiritual growth, and celebrate.
As you encounter the Lord in and through the Bible together, your life and your friends’ lives will be transformed.