This article provides additional guidance specifically for churches that want to start a one-to-one Bible reading discipleship ministry. Unlike other articles in the one-to-one Bible reading guide series, what follows focuses on practical, organizational steps a church can take to start a one-to-one Bible reading discipleship team.
To see the theological basis for one-to-one Bible reading discipleship, see One-to-One Bible Reading Guide, Part I
To see how to start a one-to-one Bible reading meeting, see One-to-One Bible Reading Guide, Part II
To see some resources to use in a one-to-one Bible reading meeting and a model meeting schedule, see One-to-One Bible Reading Guide, Part III.
Build a One-to-One Discipleship Team
By nature, the breadth of impact for a one-to-one ministry is proportional to the number of people involved. As a result, any church attempting to start a one-to-one Bible reading discipleship team will experience a tension between (1) the desire to have as many on the team as possible and (2) the need to have “qualified” Christians on the one-to-one team. Another difficulty in deciding who should be on the team arises when individuals, left only to their own self-assessment, esteem themselves to not be qualified for one-to-one ministry when everyone around them sees that they are actually “qualified” (and vice versa). In order to steer clear of pitfalls, rely on the collective wisdom of the local church to navigate who should be considered as candidates for the one-to-one team. The major steps in building a one-to-one team are:
- Make your own list of people who would be good to have on the team.
- Ask pastors, teachers, and small group leaders to identify people who would be good candidates for the team.
- Personally invite the people who have been identified. Let them know that someone recommended them for the team.
- The initial team should be made of reasonably mature, faithful Christians.
Train the One-to-One Discipleship Team
In order to get everyone on the one-to-one team on the same page, you will need to provide some basic training. This training is not meant to transform individuals on the team from immature to mature; the training should involve mature, qualified Christians and explain how the one-to-one team will operate, make it easy for them to get started, give them resources to make the task easier, and provide them with a defined support system. I recommend the following as a basic training outline:
- Three one-hour training sessions should be enough of a foundation to get a team of reasonably mature Christians ready to start one-to-one Bible reading.
- Session 1 – The What and Why of One-to-One Bible Reading
- Session 2 – How to Get Started and How to Conduct a One-to-One Bible Reading Meeting
- Session 3 – Resources and Discipleship Team Schedule
- Provide the One-to-One Discipleship Team with high quality, faithful resources.
- At the last training session, get a commitment: “In one month I will ask someone to read the Bible with me.”
- At the conclusion of the training, get a final count of who is committing to the one-to-one team.
Ask the congregation for anyone who wants to be discipled through One-to-One Bible Reading
Even after the training, a few one-to-one team members will still be hesitant to invite someone to read with them or they just may not have any good ideas of who to ask. Additionally, the rest of the church may not know that there is a one-to-one team that would like to help them grow by reading the Bible with them. In order to play matchmaker:
- Notify the congregation about the team that is starting up at the completion of the third training session.
- Ask the congregation to indicate that they would like someone to do one-to-one Bible reading with them.
- Use that list to make it easier for the One-to-One Discipleship team to find someone to disciple.
- Keep track of who is reading with whom; keep track of one-to-one team members that are free to read with someone.
- Leave room for one-to-one team members to autonomously initiate meetings with whomever they would like. This should make it easier for everyone; the purpose is not to be restrictive.
Have a Quarterly Huddle for the One-to-One Discipleship Team
One-to-one Bible reading ministry can be a really loose, almost out of control (in a good way) endeavor. Quarterly meetings are a way to inject order and provide a support system without hindering the work of ministry or burdening the schedule of the individuals on the team. A quarterly meeting could have the following agenda:
- Additional opportunity for training (e.g. “How to Nurture a New Believer”)
- Make sure the resources are working for them.
- Answer questions they might have.
- Poll to find out if any of the ones being discipled might be ready to disciple someone else one-to-one.
- Most important: give the team the opportunity to share how the Word is changing people’s lives, share ideas, and encourage one another.
Please contact me if you would like help in getting a one-to-one Bible reading discipleship ministry started or to discuss the subject further.