“O Jehovah, . . . the very essence of your word is truth.”—PS. 119:159, 160.
SONGS: 29, 53
1, 2. (a) What work did Jesus make the primary focus of his life, and why? (b) What must we do to succeed as “God’s fellow workers”?
JESUS CHRIST was a carpenter and a minister. (Mark 6:3; Rom. 15:8) He perfectly mastered both trades. As a woodworker, he learned how to handle the tools of the trade, to turn lumber into useful products. As a teacher of the good news, he skillfully used his keen knowledge of the Scriptures to help the common people understand the truths of God’s Word. (Matt. 7:28; Luke 24:32, 45) At 30 years of age, Jesus laid aside his carpenter’s tools because he knew that being a minister was the more important occupation. He said that the work of declaring the good news of the Kingdom of God was one reason why God sent him to the earth. (Matt. 20:28; Luke 3:23; 4:43) Jesus made the ministry the primary focus of his life, and he wanted others to join him in that work.—Matt. 9:35-38.
2 We may not be carpenters, but we certainly are ministers of the good news. That occupation is so important that God is involved; we are called “God’s fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:4) We acknowledge that “the very essence of [Jehovah’s] word is truth.” (Ps. 119:159, 160) That is why we want to be sure that we are “handling the word of the truth aright” in our ministry. (Read 2 Timothy 2:15.) To that end, we keep honing our skills in using the Bible, the principal tool that we use to teach the truth about Jehovah, Jesus, and the Kingdom. To help us succeed in our ministry, Jehovah’s organization has designated other basic tools that we need to be very familiar with. We refer to them as being in our Teaching Toolbox.
3. On what should we focus during the remaining time that we have to witness, and how does Acts 13:48 help us to do that?
3 You may wonder why it is called a Teaching Toolbox and not a Preaching Toolbox. To “preach” means to declare a message; but to “teach” means to sound that message down into a person’s mind and heart, so that he will act on what he learns. During the remaining time that we have to witness, our focus must be on starting Bible studies and teaching people the truth. That means earnestly looking for all those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life” and helping them to become believers.—Read Acts 13:44-48.
4. How can we know who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life,” and how can we find them?
4 How can we know who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life”? As in the first century, the only way to find those people is to give a witness. Thus, we need to do just as Jesus instructed: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving.” (Matt. 10:11) We do not expect insincere people, haughty individuals, or those with no spiritual inclination to respond favorably to the good news. We are looking for people who are honest, humble, and hungry for the truth. We can liken this search to what Jesus as a carpenter might have done in looking for just the right wood for making furniture, doors, yokes, or other things. Once he found suitable material, he could get his toolbox, use his skill, and make the item. We must do likewise as we endeavor to make disciples of honesthearted people.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
5. What do we need to know about the tools in our Teaching Toolbox? Illustrate. (See opening pictures.)
5 As in any toolbox, each tool has a specific purpose. Take as an example the carpentry tools Jesus would have used. * He needed tools to measure and mark lumber; to cut, drill, and shape the wood; and to level, plumb, and fasten the pieces. Likewise, each tool in our Teaching Toolbox has a specific purpose. So let us look in our toolbox and see how to use these essential tools that we have been given.
TOOLS TO INTRODUCE US
6, 7. (a) How have you used the contact cards? (b) What dual purpose does the congregation meeting invitation serve?
6 Contact Cards. These are small but effective tools that we can use to introduce ourselves to people and direct them to our website, where they can learn more about us and even request a Bible study. Thus far, over 400,000 online Bible study requests have been received on jw.org, and hundreds more are requested every day! You can likely keep a few contact cards with you to take advantage of opportunities to witness as you go about your daily activities.
7 Invitations. What we commonly refer to as the congregation meeting invitation serves a dual purpose. It states: “You are invited to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Then it gives the option of doing that “at our public meetings” “or with a personal instructor.” Thus, this tool not only identifies us but also invites others who are “conscious of their spiritual need” to study the Bible with us. (Matt. 5:3) Of course, people are welcome to attend our meetings whether they accept a Bible study or not. If they do attend, they will see and hear what we have to offer in the way of true Bible education.
8. How important is it for people to come to at least one of our meetings? Give an example.
8 It is important that we continue to invite people to attend our meetings at least once. Why? They will see a sharp contrast between the spiritually rich environment at our meetings and the spiritually devastated condition within Babylon the Great. (Isa. 65:13) Ray and Linda, a married couple in the United States, noted this some years ago. They decided that they needed to start going to church. They believed in God and felt a spiritual need, so they began going to all the churches in their city one by one. There were scores of churches and many denominations. From the start, the couple decided on two conditions that had to apply to any church they might join. First, they would have to learn something during the religious service, and second, the members of the church must look like people who claim to represent God. After several years, they had gone to every church in town, but they were sorely disappointed. They had not learned anything, and the churchgoers were far from dignified in their appearance. After walking out of the last church on their list, Linda went to her job and Ray went home. On his way, he drove by a Kingdom Hall and thought, ‘Why not go in and see what they’re all about?’ Of course, that was the best experience of all! Everyone at the Kingdom Hall was warm and friendly and dressed very appropriately. Ray sat in the front row and loved what he learned! It was just as the apostle Paul said about the person who comes into a Christian meeting for the first time and declares: “God is really among you.” (1 Cor. 14:23-25) Ray attended every Sunday after that; then he came to every midweek meeting. Linda also began attending, and while in their 70’s, they accepted a Bible study and got baptized.
TOOLS TO START CONVERSATIONS
9, 10. (a) Why are the tracts easy-to-use? (b) Explain how to use the tract What Is the Kingdom of God?
9 Tracts. We have eight easy-to-use tracts that work very well as tools for starting conversations. Since these tracts began to be released in 2013, some five billion of them have been printed! The beauty of these tools is that when you learn how to use one of them, you are able to use all of them because they follow the same format. How can you use a tract to draw a person into a conversation?
10 You might choose to use the tract What Is the Kingdom of God? Show the person the question on the front as you ask: “Have you ever wondered what the Kingdom of God is? Would you say it is . . . ?” Then ask which of the three answers he would select. Without saying whether his choice is right or wrong, open to “What the Bible Says” on the inside, and share the featured scriptures, Daniel 2:44 and Isaiah 9:6. If possible, continue the discussion. Last, point out the follow-up question on the back under the heading “To Think About”: “What will life be like under the rule of God’s Kingdom?” That will provide the basis for your next conversation with the person. When you meet again, you can refer to lesson 7 of the brochure Good News From God!, which is one of our tools for starting Bible studies.
TOOLS THAT STIMULATE INTEREST
11. What are our magazines designed to do, but what should we know about them?
11 Magazines. The Watchtower and Awake! are the most widely published and translated journals in the world! Because they have broad international exposure, the cover subjects are designed to appeal to people everywhere. We should use them as tools to stimulate a person’s interest in what really matters in life today. So that we can put these magazines in the right hands, however, we need to know the intended audience for each journal.
12. (a) For whom is Awake! designed, and what is its objective? (b) What success have you recently had with this tool?
12 Awake! is designed for readers who may have little or no knowledge of the Bible. They may know nothing about Christian teachings, they may be somewhat distrustful of religion, or they may be unaware that the Bible has practical value. A primary objective of Awake! is to convince the reader that God exists. (Rom. 1:20; Heb. 11:6) It also aims to help the reader build faith that the Bible “truthfully is . . . the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13) The three cover topics for 2018 are: “The Way of Happiness,” “12 Secrets of Successful Families,” and “Help for Those Who Grieve.”
13. (a) For whom is the public edition of The Watchtower designed? (b) What success have you recently had with this tool?
13 The Watchtower, public edition, focuses on spiritual matters for those who have a measure of respect for God and his Word. Although they may have some knowledge of the Bible, they do not accurately understand its teachings. (Rom. 10:2; 1 Tim. 2:3, 4) The three cover topics for 2018 answer the questions: “Is the Bible Still Relevant Today?,” “What Does the Future Hold?,” and “Does God Care About You?”
TOOLS THAT MOTIVATE
14. (a) What purpose do the four videos in our Teaching Toolbox serve? (b) What success have you had in showing these videos?
14 Videos. In Jesus’ day, a carpenter used only hand tools. These days, however, woodworkers also have power tools—saws, drills, sanders, nailers, and more. In addition to printed publications, we now have beautiful videos to show people—four of which are in our toolbox: Why Study the Bible?, What Happens at a Bible Study?, What Happens at a Kingdom Hall?, and Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are We? The videos that are less than two minutes in length work well on the initial call. The longer ones can be used on return visits and with those who have more time. These wonderful tools can motivate people to study the Bible and attend our meetings.
15. Illustrate the impact that watching one of our videos in their own language can have on people.
15 To illustrate, when a sister met a woman who had moved from Micronesia and whose first language is Yapese, our sister showed her Why Study the Bible? in her language. When the video began playing, the woman said: “This is my language. I can’t believe it! I can tell from his accent that he is from my island. He speaks my language!” After that, she said that she was going to read and watch everything in her language on jw.org. (Compare Acts 2:8, 11.) Consider another experience. A sister in the United States sent to her nephew overseas a link to the same video in his language. He watched it and e-mailed her: “The part about an evil power controlling the world particularly caught my attention. I signed up for a Bible study.” He lives in a country where our work is restricted!
TOOLS TO TEACH THE TRUTH
16. Explain the specific purpose of each brochure: (a) Listen to God and Live Forever. (b) Good News From God! (c) Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today?
16 Brochures. How can you teach the truth to someone who has limited reading ability or who has no literature in his language? We have just the tool for that—the brochure Listen to God and Live Forever. * An excellent tool for starting studies is the brochure Good News From God! You can show a person the 14 topics that are listed on the back cover and let him tell you which one interests him the most. Then start the study in that lesson. Have you tried this approach on your return visits? Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today? is the third brochure in the toolbox. It is designed to direct students to the organization. To learn how to use it on each Bible study, see the March 2017 issue of Our Christian Life and Ministry—Meeting Workbook.
17. (a) What is the specific purpose of each study book? (b) What is required of all those who advance to baptism, and why?
17 Books. After a study has been started in a brochure, you can at any point switch to the book What Can the Bible Teach Us? This tool will broaden the person’s knowledge of basic Bible teachings. After completing that book and if the student is making spiritual progress, continue the study in the book How to Remain in God’s Love. This tool will teach the student how to apply Bible principles in everyday life. Remember, even after their baptism, new ones need to continue their study until completing both of these books. This will help them to have a solid foundation in the truth.—Read Colossians 2:6, 7.
18. (a) What does 1 Timothy 4:16 encourage us to do as teachers of the truth, and with what result? (b) As we make use of our Teaching Toolbox, what should be our goal?
18 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have been entrusted with “the message of truth of the good news” that can lead people to everlasting life. (Col. 1:5; read 1 Timothy 4:16.) To that end, we have been given a Teaching Toolbox that is filled with just what we need. (See “Teaching Toolbox.”) May we use these tools as skillfully as possible. Each publisher can decide which literature in the toolbox to introduce to an interested person and when. But our objective is not just to distribute literature; nor should we leave literature with people who show no interest in our message. Our goal is to make disciples of people who are honest, humble, and spiritually hungry—people who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”—Acts 13:48; Matt. 28:19, 20.