Well, it is normal to start reading a book or a Gospel at the beginning, so that’s where we start also. This week we’ll be looking at John 1:1-8. A couple pointers before we begin.
Whether you are meeting with just one person, or with a small group on Non-Christians, two things can help your time with successful.
First: Go through the Gospel of John with less Christians than Non-Christians – unless there are only two of you. This is a time for your Non-Christian friend to make discoveries, not to feel cornered or outnumbered by a group of Christians who want to convince him of something. If there are up to three Non-Christians, you should be able to do just fine by yourself. With four to six, you probably want to have one other believer with you.
Second: Have the same Bible or New Testament for you and each Non-Christian, and I do mean the same. Most Non-Christians will not know how to find a passage in a Bible. If you have the same New Testament, all you need to do is tell him what page you will be reading from. And you should read from the same version as well. Nothing is more distracting to a Non-Christian then to be reading along in a different version and find the words different. You don’t need to help them understand the difference between versions – just have the same one! And it might be best to use the NIV, which is written at an eighth grade reading level (NASB and ESV are higher than that so are harder to understand).
You may want to read John 1:1-18 out loud and let your friend read along with you. Some, and that would be a minority may feel comfortable enough to read aloud themselves. If that’s the case, make sure there aren’t any hard words that would have to been pronounced and understood. You have known the name Samaria for years, but that place didn’t come up in your friend’s World History class. Make sure your friend is comfortable.
Once you have read the passage, ask your friend for any initial thoughts. This is always the hardest part because you will never know what they may ask and say. If you don’t know the answer, just say so. But make sure you let them know that you will find an answer to provide the next time you get together.
Here are this week’s discovery questions:
For John 1:2-4 (He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. – NIV)
Question 1: Who do you think “He” and “Him” is in this passage? (The answer is way down in verse 17.)
For John 1:4 (In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. – NIV)
Question 2: What, in your opinion, is life? (Please do not get into a conversation about abortion!)
For John 1:12 (Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. NIV)
Question 3: Where do “rights” come from? (Most American Non-Christians are familiar with constitutional rights. But where does the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence, say that these rights come from?)
While I am only giving you three questions, each question can lead to further discussion, so be prepared to ask follow-on questions, like the one given for Question 3).
Remember, you’re objective is not to share the gospel during this first meeting, or even the next several. We’re asking the Non-Christian to consider who Jesus said He was and what He did. You will probably get the opportunity to share the gospel after talking through several chapters. Take your time and make sure your friend is comfortable!
And here’s a final note. You may have noticed that sometimes I capitalize Gospel and sometimes I don’t. That comes from my seminary training. When we discuss the first four books of the New Testament, Gospel is capitalized, just like Bible is. On the other hand, the message of the good news, the gospel, begins with a small-case letter (just like good news does). That’s not something to share with your Non-Christian; just for your own information!
As you get ready to discuss John 1:1-18 with your friend, make sure you spend ample time to prayer to prepare. You might also ask your small group or Sunday School class to pray for you when you meet with your friend.