Leading Small Groups

When Spiritual Seekers Join Your Bible Study

Have you considered creating an atmosphere where believers and spiritual seekers can engage in discussions about Jesus?

Jonathan Moynihan

Staff member Dan Litchfield prepares a fire before the young men of the University of Vermont arrive for the weekly fireside meeting.

Besides the freezing temperatures and over-sized camp chairs, this Cru Bible study has something else making it even more unique -- its most-consistent attendants are non-Christians.

"Students arrive eager and willing to engage in spiritual discussion and to open up about life,” says Dan.

With believers and non-believers getting together for a study, it is a delicate balance to ensure both are being challenged and sharpened.

Learning to relate to non-Christians is an experience that produces fruit for years to come, he points out.

Dan comes to their meetings with questions and a plan, but emphasizes the need for freedom in discussion. "They won't come unless they think you care more about them than your agenda," says Mike Bazemore, another staff member.

Non-Christians in a Bible study may say something that's theologically incorrect, Dan notes, but the key is to bring it back to the text of the Bible, saying, "Let's see what Jesus says.”

"It's not my job to defend the Bible. If I do that every time they say something incorrect, they're never going to want to share what they think," says Dan. 

Through Mike and Dan's efforts in creating an open atmosphere, non-Christians are engaging in discussions about Jesus.

Next Steps

Here are a few ideas to help you re-think your own small groups so that seekers feel welcome and able to participate.

  1. Would a non-Christian feel welcome in your group? If not, how can you adjust the format so that both Christians and non-Christians are challenged to grow?
  2. Is an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability the norm? If no, why not?
  3. Are you willing to set aside the agenda in order to follow where the Holy Spirit leads?

Need an idea for what to read or discuss? Consider a book like "More Than a Carpenter” when studying the Bible with non-believers.

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