I'd heard through the grapevine that two coworkers, Martha and Maria Claudia, 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.
Of course, not all my experiences of reading Scripture with non-Christians have been so dramatic. I've endured plenty of no-shows and disappointments. I've met with some nonbelieving friends for years, and they don't seem to get it. Nevertheless, I've come to believe looking at the Scriptures with non-Christians is one of the most powerful ways we can help them to see Jesus. Here are the main lessons I've learned about how to start reading the Bible with spiritual seekers.
When I first heard about reading the Word with nonbelievers in Jim Petersen's book Living Proof, it seemed like a strange idea. Wasn't the Bible for believers? I didn't think non-Christians would be interested in learning what it says. But when I experimented with the idea, I was amazed by what happened.
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. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud … My word that goes out from my mouth … will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).