The Trellis and the Vine, I knew the next book I wanted to get my hands on was One To One Bible Reading by David Helm. Since The Trellis and the Vine is about ministry getting back to basics (Christians discipling one another through prayer and Bible reading), it seemed logical to read a book that would help me know just how to do it.
I'm no stranger to one-to-one. I've found it so much more helpful than small groups at times as you really get to know the Word and the person you're meeting with at the same time. In my early days as a Christian, I benefited enormously from having mature Christian women meet with me over the Bible. If they are reading, then I say a huge thank you! Now that I'm not in a small group, I know that meeting with another Christian woman one-to-one would be a wise use of my time with eternal significance. I'm still thinking through things and praying for God to direct me to the right person (whether they be a non-Christian, new Christian or established Christian). One thing that has hindered me in getting started is: How do I go about asking someone? (I feel quite nervous just at the thought of it).
This is why One To One Bible Reading was such an encouragement to me. It addresses that very question and I loved the fact that the first step Helm suggests you should do is pray. Too often Christians advise each other to 'just do it' (stealing Nike's slogan for a minute) rather than asking our Father for His wisdom first. Start by praying that God will lead you to someone to whom He is already looking to reveal more of Himself (page 23). Of course, after you've prayed, you will have to bite the bullet and actually ask someone. There's no easy way around it, but Helm does encourage us to consider that although we may be scared of asking someone, that doesn't mean it is a scary thing for them to consider. The people who invited me to meet with them one-to-one may have been nervous about asking me, I don't know, but I was delighted they asked.
Another thing I really liked about this book is its flexibility. It doesn't give a 'right way' to do one-to-one, but offers a lot of suggestions. Some of these include the advantages and disadvantages of preparing a study and reading the passage before the meeting compared with just turning up and 'winging it' (like just reading together with no set plan or questions other than asking each other, "Did anything stand out?" etc). The choice is yours.
He also suggests that one-to-one does not have to be an open-ended commitment. It seems silly now, but this was a revelation to me at the time. You could meet with someone for six weeks or a few months and then meet with someone else. One thing he does recommend though is arranging a time for the next meeting after you've had your current one.
Part II: Frameworks and Ideas contains everything you need in regards of sample questions and passages to read depending on who you're meeting with (i.e. if you're meeting with a non-Christian, you may want to look at Mark's gospel, or if you're meeting with someone who is suffering, you may want to read Job or some Psalms). It looks at two well-known Bible reading methods - COMA (Context Observation Meaning Application) which I've used, and the Swedish method which was new to me. I skimmed over this section a bit, but I expect I will examine it more closely when I actually start meeting with someone.
It's rare to find a book with so much encouragement and helpful information contained in just 103 pages. It has given me much more confidence in pursuing meeting one-to-one with another Christian. I highly recommend this book for every established Christian.
It is available from the Matthias Media Australian store here.
There is also a US store here.