We are exhort and encourage others, based on the Bible.
"But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men . . . For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged." (1Corinthians 14:3, 31)
Paul gave special instructions to his close friend and fellow evangelist Timothy that he must be an example to other believers with his words, conduct, faith, etc.
Needless to say, we cannot be an example to others by having Bible studies strictly on our own. We must give attention to what the Word teaches so that we can save not only ourselves but others, which assumes regular interaction with others in the faith.
"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . .
"Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. " (1Timothy 4:12-13, 15-16)
The book of Hebrews says we should not give up on meeting together with other Christians for the purpose of worship and learning about God.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Teaching methods in the New Testament
How can we find out how early Christians conducted worship services? The book of 1Corinthians describes the worship services at Corinth:
"Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe . . .
"Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret . . . Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge . . . For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged . . . For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints . . . Let all things be done decently and in order." (1Corinthians 14:22, 26-27, 29, 31, 33, 40)
These important verses in the Bible were written to show how New Testament worship services were conducted. The Corinthians were doing it WRONG. In their zeal, everyone wanted to proclaim a doctrine, an interpretation, or give a revelation. There was too much chaos and confusion. Some spoke in foreign languages that couldn't be understood by the others. The Corinthians were admonished that services must be conducted with proper order and decorum, because God is not the author of confusion.
In Matthew 13 it says that Jesus' method of teaching His disciples encouraged questions and discussion. In Matthew 16 Jesus asked questions, to make sure the disciples understood:
"Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.' And they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'It is because we have taken no bread.' But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, 'O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? . . .'
"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' " (Matthew 16:5-8, 13-15)
When the apostle Paul visited a synagogue for services, he reasoned with them concerning the gospel and what the Bible actually taught. Open discussions about God's word were allowed in such settings.
"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures . . ." (Acts 17:1-2)
The Bereans were unique Christians. They didn't just accept what someone taught but checked the Bible to see if what he said was literally true:
"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:10-11)
The Bible's method of conveying and learning about the word of God, as well as how to have worship services, allowed for open discussions conducted in a respectful manner.
How to prepare and conduct studies in the home
The person who will lead a meeting should first pray about choosing a topic that will instruct and encourage other believers. Prepare notes with Biblical references and whatever help you need from sources such as reference books. The Internet is an excellent way to get ideas and gather the information necessary to hold a successful discussion about the Bible. One method of many in leading a discussion is to have those attending the study to read a passage based on a particular topic. After the passage is read others can then offer their comments. The important thing to keep in mind is to think about how others can be helped by what is taught and discussed. In the final analysis the Bible should speak for itself when conducting studies or hosting a home fellowship. The person or persons leading a discussion can stimulate a response from others by asking questions, reading or having the scripture read, and then stating or asking someone to state the answer.
Here are some tips for running a home fellowship or Bible studies:
No single person should dominate a service or study, or lead a discussion far away from its initial topic. One person speaking while all others listen, like attending a lecture, is NOT an effective way of teaching! Discussion helps clarify what is read and taught. Additionally, people should refrain from heating arguments. Such behavior can tear an otherwise fruitful meeting apart!
People who do NOT listen to others, whether they are the host of the meeting or one of the attendees, learn little if anything from the Bible and do not benefit others. Also, be aware of those who use meetings with God's people as a forum to push their own "pet doctrines."
- Please be mindful that many people may have to work the day after visiting a study or home fellowship meeting to worship God. Keep what is conducted to a reasonable period of time.