3 Circles: A guide for a five-touch, follow-up discovery Bible study with unbelievers

July 29, 2019

In Acts 17, Paul communicates the gospel in a contextually appropriate way and the response is pretty typical: some mock, some believe and join with other disciples, and some want to hear more (Acts 17:32-34). My experience has been that many fruitful disciples come from this third group — the ones that want to hear more before they consider surrendering to Jesus as Lord and Savior. The 3 Circles tool is a helpful guide for how to consider doing a follow-up Bible study for those who “want to hear more” about Jesus.

The 3 Circles tool provides an opportunity to get to the core of one’s entire being — their worldview. There have been countless studies on how worldview is formed in people, but the Bible is God’s view of the world. So regardless of how one’s worldview is formed, the Bible will undoubtedly do three things to everyone’s worldview given space, time, consideration and the Holy Spirit’s work. God, through his Word, will affirm, correct or dismiss all aspects of any person’s worldview. The 3 Circles opens doors for conversation, and a follow-up Bible study following some of the big questions will help draw out beliefs that are deeply held (Proverbs. 20:5). A helpful follow-up Bible study for people who “want to hear more” can follow a framework similar to this (see www.viewthestory.com):

  1. Creation: Every worldview has an origin story and within that story are the themes of purpose, direction, boundaries and desire. The Bible describes those things in Genesis 1 and 2, to which the rest of Scripture consistently refers back. You can draw the first circle throughout the study.
  2. What went wrong: Almost every worldview has some sort of articulation of what is wrong with the world and the reasons for it. In Genesis 3, the Scriptures lay out, from God’s perspective, what went wrong. The effects are described on virtually every page of the Bible, and can be seen in every day of our existence, but it’s important to know how it began before we can begin to see if there is any hope. You can draw the second circle and the arrow leading to it throughout the study.
  3. Is there any hope (pt. 1): Virtually every worldview describes hope for a broken world, whether it be more education, more love, more religious activity, or “be good for goodness sake.” God’s hope begins in Genesis 3 and can be traced all the way through the Hebrew Scriptures to the person of Jesus. Depending on what you learn about the interested listener, you can utilize any major theme or any story to help build bridges or confront strongholds within their worldview. Ideally though, tracing the storyline through Abraham (Genesis 15), David (2 Samuel 7) and the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) helps any listener see that God has made promises. The question is, will He keep them?
  4. Is there any hope (pt. 2): The Bible answers with a resounding YES! The Gospel writers show that Jesus truly is the fulfillment of all God’s promises to Israel, and then through Israel, to every tribe, tongue and nation. A few passages highlighting this theme are Matthew 1, Matthew 27 and Matthew 28. Pulling a string of pearls together helps listeners see this isn’t just you “trying to get them in your church,” but God pleading through you to be reconciled to Him, become a new creation altogether and then be repurposed to be an ambassador of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). You can draw the third circle and the arrows leading in to, and out of, it throughout the study.
  5. How will it all end: Every worldview deals with the end. Whether it’s karma, annihilation, nothing or a renewed heaven and earth — everyone believes something about what happens to us when we die. The Bible puts forth in Revelation 21-22 the fullness of the purposes of God, restored and renewed in and through Jesus. You can discuss the first circle, along with some key differences, to explain throughout the study.

This is one way you could conduct a follow-up study with the 3 Circles as a helpful guide. The key is letting the Holy Spirit guide the discussion. That typically looks like asking the questions, seeing what God says about it and then letting the person wrestle with how the Holy Spirit is communicating to them about deeply held beliefs. He will either affirm, dismiss or correct based on the Scriptures. And if this Word is met with faith in the hearers, they too will move from “we want to hear more” to believing, joining and taking up the responsibilities of all you’ve already shown them in Scripture.


by Josh ReedAdult Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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