“Is your ministry geared more toward Christians or non-Christians?”
If I drank a Red Bull every time I was asked this question, I’d be more sleepless than a first-semester freshman during orientation. The question exposes the prevailing assumption among many Christians that believers and non-believers are fundamentally different and have different needs.
But 14 years of campus ministry have confirmed one fact: The greatest need for Christians and non-Christians alike is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So whether you’re leading an evangelistic Bible discussion or encouraging your outreach team to press on in winning lost souls, your best tactic is to talk about Jesus and his death and resurrection as much as possible.
To help you along your way, here are 9 suggestions for Bible studies you can lead to motivate your core students and staff with the gospel of God’s grace. These studies don’t all teach how to do evangelism, but they will inspire your team with why.
1. Ephesians 2:1-10 – Exhibitions of God’s Grace
Observe Paul’s flow of thought: You were dead, but God made us alive and raised us up with Christ. You deserved his wrath, but now you’ve been saved by grace. Amazing. And why did God do it? Verse 7: “So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” That’s right, you’re a trophy on display for your campus.
2. Exodus 3:1-4:17 – Dealing with Fear
God has seen his people’s suffering, and he will rescue them. He allows us to participate in the rescue mission, but we fear so many things. We fear we’re not qualified (3:11-12). We fear we might not be able to answer their questions (3:13-22). We fear they won’t agree with us (4:1-9). We fear we’re not skilled enough (4:10-12). We don’t want to do it (4:13-17). But God pictures his promises in a bush that burns without being consumed. He is a consuming fire, but he preserves those for whom Christ died.
3. Hebrews 11:1-12:3 – Jesus Wants Your Faith, Not Your Works
When reading through the faith hall of fame, we sometimes miss the fact that it’s a faith hall of fame. It’s not a works hall of fame. It’s not a list of strong people who did great things for God. It’s a list of weak people who trusted that God could do great things for them. We shouldn’t try to imitate the heroes of old. They’re cheering us on, encouraging us to fix our eyes on Jesus. He endured hostility so he could win us as a prize. Can we endure a bit of ridicule to win others to him as well?
4. Daniel 1 – How to Win Your Campus
Four young adults study the liberal arts for 3 years at a secular boarding school. Sound familiar? Of course, they didn’t want to be there. A tragedy led to their enrollment. But they settled down and served the community. They started small in choosing their battles. In the end, they won big. They outlasted not only Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but also Babylon’s empire (verse 21). And their influence was still felt 500 years later when Persian officials came to worship the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2). For a more detailed study, see my post at The Gospel Coalition.
5. 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – Preach the Word
Paul’s final charge—his dying breath—was to preach the word. He called on God and Christ Jesus as witnesses to this charge. And why does he say we should preach the word? Because Jesus is coming to judge (verse 1). Because men are turning from the truth (verses 3-4). Because generations are passing (verses 6-8). We need new heroes to raise the banner and fulfill the ministry on campus.
6. Exodus 13:27-14:31 – Just Keep Moving Forward
God led the people to the Red Sea so they wouldn’t change their minds and return to Egypt. They had no other option but to keep moving forward. But how? Only a miracle could pull them through. And what’s the prerequisite for a miracle? An utterly impossible situation. When God performs miracles on campus, he’ll first need to put you into an impossible situation. He already rescued you from your slavery to sin; what could be more impossible than that?
7. Acts 25 – Confident Innocence
Paul is the prisoner and Festus is the official, but Luke narrates the tale as though the roles were reversed. Festus is lame and insecure. He needs great pomp to make himself feel better. On the other hand, Paul is confident because he is innocent. His innocence centers on a “certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive” (verse 19). Because of Jesus, Paul was innocent in the highest court. No human court could challenge such innocence, so he was free to appeal to Caesar and testify to the work of Jesus along the way.
8. Luke 10:1-24 – Because Your Names are Written in Heaven
This passage comes pretty close to providing a “how-to” for evangelism. Prepare for opposition. Depend on the Lord. Seek people who respond to the message of the kingdom. Move on if they reject your message. As you go, you’ll see people turn to Jesus and demons quail before him. But don’t rejoice in these things. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
9. Matthew 13 – How God’s Kingdom Works
We share the message that God’s kingdom has come in Christ. We observe people’s response to the message, evaluating carefully over time (verses 1-23). We should expect that some who join us are not really with us (verses 24-30, 36-43). But the kingdom will grow (verses 31-33). We treasure the Lord’s kingdom (verse 44) because the Lord first treasured us (verses 45-46). The kingdom is not just a treasure to be sought, but a merchant who seeks.