One-to-One Bible Reading Guide, Part III: Resources for a Successful One-to-One Bible Reading Ministry and How to Structure a One-to-One Meeting

This article will cover resource strategy and resource lists that are helpful for one-to-one Bible reading ministry. If you have not yet, I recommend reading Part I: What is One-to-One Bible Reading and Why Commit to this Particular Method? and Part II: How to Start a One-to-One Bible Reading Discipleship Ministry from this One-to-One Bible Reading series.

Strategy: Read Books of the Bible in Context.

“The fact that the Bible is one book should have big implications for the way we read it. … With the exception of some of the Proverbs, the Bible does not contain isolated sayings (we should read it in context). I should be wary about dipping into it at random and extracting individual verses without any regard for their context. I am almost bound to misunderstand the Bible if I read it that way. Each verse needs to be understood in the context of the chapter in which it appears, and each chapter in light of the book as a whole. And there is a wider context we must consider as well: the whole Bible.”[1]

Tragically, there are Christians who rarely read books of the Bible in context. As a consequence, some are confused about what the Bible teaches and don’t know how to “feed” themselves from the Word. One-to-one Bible reading provides an excellent opportunity to expose readers to the Bible in context.

I have found that people generally desire to start with topical studies to pursue their particular questions and interests. It is good to help the folks you disciple by answering their particular questions. However, in my opinion, it is better for the one being discipled to commit to reading through a book of the Bible instead of jumping into a series of topical studies. Focus on book studies in your one-to-one meetings, especially initially. By all means, answer any questions that arise, but answer them as they come up and don’t let your answer to those questions dominate the meeting time. As you model it for them, they learn how to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. Then, they will be better equipped to find the answers to their questions that a topical study explores.

If you are meeting with a new believer, it might be necessary to start with an essentials study. For a one-to-one Bible reading relationship, I would only recommend a study of Christian basics if it is very short and efficient—no more than four sessions. Start Strong is a good, short study on the basics of following Jesus.

Resources: Where to Start and Specific Material That Works for Our Church

Where to Start

For a one-to-one Bible reading meeting, you will want to be ready with resources that are impactful, move the discussion along, and do not require a lot of preparation beforehand.

My recommendation is always the same for the start of any one-to-one Bible reading relationship: start by reading the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of John.  Matthias Media has an excellent Interactive Bible Study for Mark. This resource is easy to use, ensures that the conversation moves along productively, and doesn’t require hardly any preparation work outside of the meeting. The booklet is cheap and it is available in PDF format through www.gotherefor.com.

If you are meeting with someone a little more academically inclined, you could use the twelve week study of Mark from Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series.

Specific Material that Works for our Church

The one-to-one Bible reading discipleship team at our church almost exclusively uses Matthias Media material. The material is excellent, relatively inexpensive, and the majority is available in the all-you-can-eat subscription service at www.gotherefor.com. For book studies and abbreviated book studies we primarily use their Interactive Bible Studies and, to a lesser extent, the Pathway Bible Guides. Topical studies through Matthias Media abound as well.

Toolbox: Organization of Resources

While it is clear that I advocate for one-to-one Bible reading to be centered around books of the Bible, that is not to say that topical studies do not have a place in the list of one-to-one Bible reading resources.  Topical studies can be good companion resources to a book study (e.g. resources on theology, doctrine, apologetics, and anticipated questions) and they can provide a good break in between book studies (Bible overview studies). Additionally, topical resources are useful for meeting with new believers and unbelievers.

For the one-to-one Bible reading discipleship team at our church, I have provided a prioritized list of categorized resources starting with book studies of entire books of the Bible down to studies specifically for men, women, or parents, etc.  Here are the resource categories we use:

  1. Bible Book Studies
  2. Abbreviated Book Studies (Not entire books of the Bible; sections of books)
  3. Overview and Topical (e.g. Bible Overview, Prayer, Marriage, etc.)
  4. New Believers
  5. Apologetics and Questions
  6. Men Specific
  7. Women Specific
  8. Resources for Parents
  9. Theology and Doctrine
  10. Evangelistic Bible Studies

The Anatomy of a Meeting: Basic Meeting Agenda

For the discipleship meetings to be a success, everyone will want to know how long the meeting will last, what will happen, and what they should be prepared to do. Having an agreed upon agenda for each meeting helps accomplish that. Obviously, you will have the freedom to structure it however you like, but I recommend the following for a basic meeting agenda:

  1. Quick catch up; share life (10 minutes)
  2. Brief prayer and thanksgiving
  3. Read and discuss the Bible (30-40 minutes)
  4. Mutual prayer requests and prayer (10 minutes)

Have fun. Enjoy fellowship. Don’t do all the talking. The Word of God is living and active and anyone who seriously engages with it will be changed by it and have a response.

Please contact me if you would like help in getting a one-to-one Bible reading discipleship ministry started or discuss the subject further.


Footnotes:

  1. Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture, InterVarsity Press, 2002, selections from pp 14-18

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