But Isn’t One-to-One Bible Reading Inefficient? (Part Three)

Kevin Halloran

Content Specialist,
February 04, 2020

This is Part Three of an interview with Sean Martin on One-to-One Bible Reading. Listen to the entire interview below or read Part One or Part Two of the transcript. Part Three begins at 12:25.

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Kevin: I think many would agree that one-to-one Bible reading is a great ministry idea, but feel their lives are too packed already with pressures of life and ministry. They might even say, “This isn’t an efficient use of time because I’m only meeting with one person. When I preach a sermon, I preach to the whole congregation.” What would you say to that person?

Sean: I would say a few things. First of all, may God keep us from the place where we think we are too busy to make disciples. All Christians are called to make disciples. That’s the command of the Lord Jesus—it’s not an option.

May God keep us from the place where we think we are too busy to make disciples.

One-to-ones are great because it is a simple way to make disciples. You meet with someone an hour a week. Meet them in the early morning if you need. I used to meet with a guy who was a very busy banker. We met every Friday morning at 6 am. It was hard for both of us to get up that early, but that was the only time we could carve out in the week for it, so we disciplined ourselves to do it. I remember many Fridays feeling sorry for myself when the alarm went off at 5:30 am to go to the one-to-one. I’d be thinking on the way “this is really early,” but every time once we got going, we said at the end “it was worth it.” It’s always worth it.

We’re never too busy to make disciples. The question you have to ask yourself in ministry if you are too busy is are you letting the urgent overtake the important. We can feel that emails are urgent or texts or meetings, and yes, we need to attend to those things. But what we’re primarily here to do is make disciples. That’s important. I want to make sure that the important overtakes the urgent in my schedule.

It’s like going to the gym. You might feel too busy at first, but you have to get yourself going. Once you go and have momentum and are seeing results, you want to make time for it.

As far as it being strategic because you’re only meeting with “one person”—you’re not meeting with one person. We should have a training mindset in ministry. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

This verse presents four generations: 1) the Apostle Paul 2) Timothy, his protégé 3) faithful men who are able to teach and 4) others.

Once you start meeting one-to-one with somebody, I lay out the 2 Timothy 2:2 vision from the start: “This one-to-one doesn’t stop with you. I’m going to start meeting one-to-one with you, we will do this about two to three months, and at that point we’re going to have a conversation together and I’m going to encourage you to find two people to meet with and read the Bible with.” And what happens is by the third month or so, people are beginning to see the benefit, they’re enjoying it, they’re seeing a change. I ask them to think about one or two people they can have a one-to-one with. That one person starts meeting with two, and I tell them to challenge the people they meet with. Before you know it, the one-to-one that you started has grown exponentially.

You could start a Bible reading movement in your church.

You could start a Bible reading movement in your church. You could start a Bible reading movement in your high school if you’re doing this. You could start a Bible reading movement in your community.

It’s never about just one person, if you bring the training mindset into it, you can have a Bible reading movement all over.

Kevin: One thing I’ve heard you mention Sean is that you Facetime or Skype with guys we train if scheduling or proximity are issues, technology can make it very easy.

Sean: Absolutely it does. Sometimes it can’t be face-to-face. There’s a young man in ministry in a Central Asia country who wants to talk regularly about certain issues. We read through Scriptures and talk through things regularly. FaceTime allows us to do that.

There’s also a young man who moved to Brazil recently who is going through rough lives in life and ministry and again, I just had a chat with him over Facebook Messenger Video. It’s not quite the same as face-to-face (we are physical beings) but still, if Facetime and Messenger Video are what you have, it is an effective way to shepherd people around the world. It’s terrific. I wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise—letters take a long time!

Kevin: Thanks for the encouragement, Sean. And I know you wanted to recommend a resource on One-to-One Bible reading.

Sean: I would recommend to anyone who is thinking about one-to-one Bible reading or wanting training to read One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm. It’s an absolutely superb book—I think it’s the best I’ve seen on the topic and I recommend it to everyone.

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