Monday, May 17, 2010

One-to-one: Chapter 4

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 4 - Meeting Regularly to Study the Bible: Before You Meet

De Witt starts the chapter covering some basic practical matters:
  • how you ask someone to meet with you
  • how their spouse may feel about it (if they are married)
  • how often to meet (weekly or fortnightly)
  • how long to meet for (maybe 6 months to start and then re-assess)
  • what to study (eg. book of the bible, a Christian theme using various bible passages, or a Christian book on a bible theme)

She makes the point that studying the bible directly (without a guide) should be the norm. If we look at themes, we can inadvertently turn towards our hobby horses rather than searching the Scriptures. Similarly, looking a Christian book should be done so that it can turn you back to the bible.

I must say I found this point helpful to think through. I meet in a triplet of wives to support each other, and we have gone through a book last year and this year. This challenged me that our next thing, and perhaps our priority from now on, should be looking at the bible together.

The rest of the chapter covers how to actually prepare a bible study that you would do with someone when you meet one-to-one. She starts from the beginning, assuming no real knowledge of how to prepare a study - this is very helpful. There is no way we could accuse her of encouraging us to read the bible one-to-one with someone, but not providing us with the tools to do so.

Her suggestion is that for a non-Christian, you should start with Mark’s gospel. This is what my husband has been doing for years when he meets up with non-Christians on uni campuses. It’s what I have started to do this year also. Both he and I can testify to how much we learn each time we do it, let alone how exciting it is to read it with someone else.

She also gives suggestions for after that, perhaps Colossians or 1 Peter, and the outline of a brief ‘course’ of foundation of faith. A lot of these ideas are expanded in Chapter 8 (Resources) where she has provided some sample bible studies.

Then she deals with the details of writing a bible study - trying to get understand the overall point of the passage, observation (what the passage says), interpretation (what the passage means), application (what the passage means to me) and then putting all this into a bible study format (questions).

It was at this point that I thought this book would also be of great benefit to bible study group leaders. In fact, I wonder if the best form of training for potential bible study group leaders is to ask that they start a bible study with one person - a one-to-one relationship.

To think about:
  • If you already meet with someone one-to-one, do you think you put enough emphasis on bible study - both as the focus of what you do together, and with the amount of time you give to preparation before the meeting?


Miss M said...

Thanks for the helpful review Wendy. I wonder what you think of her suggestion that the leader or initiater of the 1;1 should prepare the study first. Is it possible to instead just meet and open the Bible and read and pray? And maybe take away questions to look up and investigate during the week before coming back together? And in this modeling that God speaks directly to us in his word - showing how we go about working out what it says? I've been wrestling'with this for a while. I know that some women don't feel confident unless they have prepared first, but is there a model of almost a 'shared quiet time' that is also valid and helpful and would give other women more confidence that they could actually do that>

Rachael said...

Hi Miss M,

I agree with you. I think that when one person has prepared, especially if it is a study with questions, that this can be quite intimidating for the other person. I much prefer just opening the bible together and together learning from God. If there are questions that come up that you haven't prepared for... all the better... a chance to model how to go about answering those questions.

The resources that are mentioned to use when preparing for the meeting would be great to have on hand and use together.

Perhaps there are times when preparing a study is appropriate...

Wendy said...

Thanks for the comment Miss M and the reply Rachael. I thought about this a number of times as I did this series, and nearly addressed it in my final post. I touched on it in Chapter 1 – where I said De Witt said in 1:1 it is more normal for one person to have more knowledge and experience as a Christian from which the other can learn. I found this distinction helpful as I read this book, because what she was saying didn’t always easily fit into the framework of a peer relationship.

I kept wondering how the catch up between two peers or friends could work in her framework. I think it doesn’t work very well. When I think of times I have read the bible with friends/peers we have just opened God’s word and looked at it together and tried to nut it out.

However, I think there are still circumstances where a little preparation is appropriate and preferable. Say you are reading through Mark with a non-Christian. Most people would probably prefer to be a little aware of what is coming up next (eg. so that when you get to Ch8 – you can be prepared to also ask “Who do you think Jesus is?” after Jesus has asked Peter). A little preparation means you know what the likely issues are that will come up in discussion and you have had a chance to think about them.

I also suspect it is a little personality and confidence driven. Some people doing 1:1 would have more confidence in their ability to think on the spot and to drive a conversation where it should go. Others will feel ill-equipped to do some of this without some prior thought.

It also depends on the purpose of the 1:1 relationship. If you are purposely leading someone through the bible to investigate Christianity, or working through a series on Christian thought or doctrine (eg. predestination), with it obvious that you are the ‘leader’ of the two, preparation is probably a good idea to ensure you are actually dealing with the appropriate passages and issues etc, without guessing on the spot.

But I do also like the idea of modelling just opening Gods word together and seeing what we learn. I can see value in both methods depending on circumstances.

Thanks for the comments!