On a hot summer Saturday in 2020, I was cleaning the inside of my car. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and saw someone I did not know, and she had a flyer in her hand. She introduced herself as Shanice and proceeded to tell me that she and her husband were new in town. She was starting a preschool business and wondered if I had any children that could be prospective students. Relieved because I was not interested, I politely told her that we homeschool our children. However, I did ask if she went to church anywhere. Shanice said that they were looking. I gave her my card and invited her to Fairview. She and her daughter attended the following Sunday. I was so encouraged. Though Shanice and my wife Erica became friends, she did not visit Fairview regularly. We stayed in contact with her through her daughter and our children by going to the county library for story hour on Fridays and setting up play dates. Other ladies at Fairview befriended Shanice also.
Shanice and Erica had set up a meeting between our families at the new kids’ play place in the county. This is when I met Justin, her husband. Justin had many questions about the Bible and Christianity. He told me how had been saved and all of his religious experiences. I had failed in this conversation because I was gently refuting what he was saying with Scriptures. We never argued, but I did not win his trust. What I should have done was set up a Bible study. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for Justin. I asked God to give me another chance with him.
At Polishing the Pulpit in Sevierville, Tennessee, I attended almost all of Rob Whitacre’s presentations about personal evangelism. After meeting Justin, I went back to the jump drive and listened to them again. One thing that Rob said that stuck with me was, “Lose an argument to win a soul.” Those presentations convinced me to use the Bobby Bates Back to the Bible study method. I kept praying for another chance with Justin and Shanice.
Our Father answers all prayers, and He answered this prayer in the way that I hoped. One afternoon, Erica said that Justin and Shanice were coming over to our house the next Friday. We planned to eat and play card games. I was so excited. Erica said that there was one more thing. The main reason for this meeting was that they wanted to do a vacuum presentation. I was okay with that for two reasons: first and foremost, this was my chance to set up a Bible study; second, we did not have to buy the vacuum.
Friday evening came. We sat through a great presentation with a salesman of Rainbow vacuums, but we were not going to pay that much for one. The salesman left disappointed. Our families sat down to eat and had a great time. I asked why they had stopped coming to Fairview. Justin plainly said, “I just don’t believe that people in the church of Christ are the only ones going to heaven.” This was my chance, so I asked, “Can we set up a Bible study and observe what the Scriptures say about that matter?” He agreed and was excited for the opportunity. Honestly, I was a little skeptical with the Back to the Bible method for one reason. I was afraid that because of its simplicity, it would be insulting. Turns out that the simplicity of this method is the blessing. The Back to the Bible study method can be used by anyone in the Lord’s church. It basically runs itself.
Before the study, I asked the church to pray. I messaged Rob and asked him to pray, too. Justin wanted to study alone for the first session, which was unusual, but after Rob’s advice, I went along with it. I said to Justin, “You asked about the church of Christ thinking that they are the only ones going to heaven. This Bible study will help with that question.” After a prayer, we began book 1, which is about Scriptural Authority. After the study, Justin said, “Even a kindergartener can understand this.” I told him that is actually a compliment and said, “It’s supposed to be simple.” Justin was excited about book 2 on the following week.
The following week arrived. Before the study, I asked for prayers from the church and Rob, which they did. This time, Shanice was involved with this study. After a prayer, we began book 2, which is about the church. He made some great comments about how he had visited different denominations and asked to speak with the elders there, to which they responded by not knowing what Justin was talking about. Shanice and Justin learned about the church that Jesus built, and its worship and organization. Again, the study ran itself. They were excited about how their questions were being answered and for the study on the following week.
I asked for prayers from the church and Rob. That day, I read, “How to Close the Study” by Bobby Bates and Rob Whitacre. I watched the DVDs. I wanted to be ready for any rejections. After a prayer and a summary of book 1 and book 2, we began book 3, which is about salvation. During the study, he asked me if I knew who Ken Hamm was and asked if I had watched his debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy. I told him that I heard that Ken had lost that debate. He lifted up the red book 3 and said, “Ken needed this book.”
At the end of the study, I told them that the church building was about 10 minutes away. They were ready to be baptized. There was a small “hiccup.” Justin said that he was comfortable with his first “baptism” but was willing to do it again. I wanted to make sure that he knew exactly why he needed to be baptized scripturally, so we went to Acts 2:47: “Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” After we read that verse together, I asked him, “When you were baptized, did the Lord add you to the church of Christ?” He understood. At 9 o’clock in the evening, we went to the building, and Justin and Shanice were baptized into Christ.
The BTTB study method is simple and effective. I am so pleased with how the studies went. I am no longer skeptical. I am excited to get more studies. To God be the glory! Let’s get to work!
Graeber Road church of Christ, Rosenburg, Texas: Andy Baker reports, “Graeber Road in Rosenberg is in our fourth week of writing compassion cards. We are getting positive responses from the people we are writing to. Because of lack of availability on Friday and Saturday evenings this time of year, we had our Graduation Banquet for our high school seniors this past Sunday following the morning worship. It worked well in an unintentional way—we had 40+ visitors from a variety of denominations and backgrounds who came to morning worship and Bible class before attending the banquet. Talk about retooling! We have our Christian Evidence seminar coming up this weekend with Kyle Butt. Did you know that if you have a Facebook Page for the church, you can boost an event for as little as $25 or as much as you want (we budgeted $100) and target people in your area over the course of time the ad runs? We’ve had almost 5000 people who have engaged with our advertisement (some negatively but some positively) for this event, and I anticipate a really good turnout. Pray for us.”
Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama: Do you know what free transportation to church, a warm greeting, visitor bag, Compassion Cards, meals, and Bible study produce? Please welcome Robin Williams into Christ who was baptized last Wednesday evening. In addition, after Keith and Lynn Ritchie took a visiting family to lunch last Sunday, they had their first Bible study using Back to the Bible on Tuesday. Just two more studies!
Sevierville church of Christ, Tennessee: Kevin Ruiz reports, “Hello Rob, our study of the third Back to the Bible booklet with Antonietta, the young woman from New York, ended with her decision to be baptized into Christ. It was an evening of gladness and many smiles. Also, we were able to provide benevolent assistance to the local resident who visited with us last Sunday and will continue our studies with Jamie during the Bible class hour tomorrow morning. Her children enjoyed Bible class and will be back again tomorrow as well. Several ladies worked together to provide lunch for Jamie and her children following the morning assemblies last Sunday, and it was an enjoyable time for several families to visit with her and the children. Compassion cards are going out to multiple contacts as we aim to show the love of Christ with the hope of saving souls.”
Mercedes Drive church of Christ, Alabama: Ms. Linda Barger began visiting the first Sunday after the House to House School of Evangelism seminar in February. She was invited by longtime friends who are members at Mercedes Drive. Twice widowed, Ms. Linda’s life has known much difficulty and loss, but that does not show in her bubbling, optimistic personality. It had been several years since she had attended worship with a local denomination, and she was looking to “get back into church.” At her first visit, she was glowingly positive about the worship and about the church’s welcoming spirit. She attended regularly for the first few weeks, with her presence only hindered by sickness or by family needs.
Her sincerity and zeal were tangible, even contagious. Her fingers did the walking during every sermon, searching every scripture to see if those things said were so, particularly concerning those ideas that varied from what denominationalism had taught her. She welcomed the invitation to come to the house for dinner, and when the conversation naturally flowed to a personal Bible study, Ms. Linda leapt on the opportunity.
Each study took some time because she was so filled with questions and comments. With her it was best to start with fundamentals concerning the evidence for God and the Bible’s authority. She was a sponge, frequently noting how she had never been taught such truths, how others needed to hear the same message, and even mentioning during one study the possibility that her prior religious beliefs had not actually been soul-saving. During the pivotal study, just before examining baptism, she said, “You know, you are making me a Christian with this study.” Yes ma’am: that is the goal. Thirty minutes later, after seeing the difference between biblical truth and her previous beliefs regarding salvation, she came to the question of when to be baptized. ‘Right now. Here. Now.’ She was. At least a dozen members rushed to meet us at the building to welcome the newest member entering into God’s family. God’s Word had done the work. Linda was reborn. Heaven rejoiced, and so do us saints here on earth.”
Cowetta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum reports, “We have continued several studies this week. Tonight, Mike baptized Meghan. She decided after going thru BTTB that it was time for her to place her Lord on in baptism in accordance with the scriptures. We have several studies scheduled for the week ahead! God is good!”
East Ridge church of Christ, Chattanooga: Charles Cochran reports, “We are continuing to work with our evangelistic efforts. We began the second phase of the work. Sixteen people met to take names to visit. The Compassion Card ministry is going well. We received a letter from a couple we sent cards to. The lady is not a Christian. She was so thankful for the cards. We continue to have studies. Luke Griffin and I are going out tomorrow night for a second House to House visit with a lady. Thanks for your encouragement.”
Hillsboro church of Christ, Tennessee: Shelby Moorman, their preacher, along with the elders have begun the cultural change to focus the congregation on evangelism. They passed out the HTHSOE bookmarks on Sunday to write down ten families each person wanted to reach this year. On Sunday night they started the Compassion Card ministry.