I know the title of this post makes me seem a bit narcissistic. And truth be told I probably am (although thankfully I’m a recovering narcissist, because of the grace shown me by Jesus). So why should you care about my New Year’s resolution?
Well, narcissism aside, I think my resolution this year aligns with the greatest assignment God has given to His Church in the Great Commission… to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
In pastoral ministry I am passionate about expository preaching in the pulpit and solid biblical teaching in the classroom. But as of lately I’ve also come to realize another important aspect to the church’s overall discipleship culture… one-on-one bible reading. That’s right. Nothing flashy or novel here. Just two believers in a local church who intentionally meet together for the purpose of encouraging each other in the Word. This could also be called one-on-one discipleship.
This year I want to intentionally seek out another person whom I can come alongside to do them good spiritually by studying the Word with them. As I thought about how much good this could do if such relationships permeated the entire church, I decided I should also share it with you in the hope that maybe you’ll seek out a younger or newer believer in your church for the purpose of helping them in the Word as well.
So what would this look like practically? What would we do? Where would we meet? Below are a few suggestions that I plan on implementing.
- Pick a book of the Bible to study together.
Before jumping in, I’d recommend some training on how to accurately study the Bible. If your church offers a course in biblical interpretation, take it! If not, I would also recommend this very helpful book to get you started.To start the New Year, I’m hoping to take someone through the book of Philippians. We’ll tackle it week by week discussing the major units and discussing what message Paul was intending to send to his original readers and how that same message bears on our lives today.
- Discuss last week’s sermon
If you are in a church where the Word is preached faithfully (and if you’re not, you should be!), then take extra advantage of the teaching you receive and discuss with the other person how together you guys are planning to apply this or that truth to your lives. Then hold each other accountable!
- Invite someone to attend a special topics class with you and discuss class material throughout the week
Lately our church has been offering what we call “Equipping Classes”. These classes cover topics like Introduction to the Bible, Biblical Interpretation, Exposition of Philippians, etc. If your church offers anything like this, invite someone to take the course with you and discuss the material outside of the class setting.
- Invite young couples or singles to sit in on family devotions
We don’t have to be overly dogmatic about this only being one-on-one. Invite a couple over or a single in your church and show them how the Word is important to your lives as a family. Let them see you read the Bible to your family and pray with your kids. I was blessed to have a pastor who did this with me, and it impressed so deeply on my heart that I want to lead my family in worship as well!
- Read a good Christian book together
Now be careful here. Just because a book is sold in your local Christian book store does not mean it’s a healthy book to read. I’ve seen plenty of prosperity gospel preachers fill the shelves at stores that should know better.At any rate, here are a few I would highly recommend: Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The Pleasures Of God by John Piper, The Attributes Of God by A.W. Tozer, The Prodigal God by Tim Keller, Basic Christianity by John Stott, and Who Is Jesus? by Greg Gilbert. For more book ideas, ask your pastor. Trust me, he’ll love to help with this.
A couple of more things you’ll want to remember is:
1. Be intentional– you won’t drift into a discipling relationship; you must seek the person out and invite them to study the Word with you.
2. Only disciple people of the same gender– this is just plain biblical wisdom.
3. Plan a day, time, and place– if you’re always waiting until the last minute to plan when and where to meet, you never will!
4. Disciple people you go to church with- this isn’t to say you should never disciple people who go to a different church, but there are many advantages to initiating this relationship with people you are already in church with: (1) you both receive the same teaching, so you can discuss it together, (2) it’s a great way to obey the “one another” commands in Scripture, (3) this rich web of relationships will increase the church’s health as a whole.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I’m new at this myself, so I still have a lot to learn! But let’s begin and commit ourselves for the spiritual good of others in the body!