Gathering One-to-One: An Introduction
EVERY MEMBER A MINISTER
Picture a church where every member is a minister.
Don’t picture a seminary chapel, or a pastors’ workshop! No, think of an ordinary church, full of ordinary Christians who are all acting as ministers to one another. Imagine everyone in that congregation regularly stirring up one another to good works. A church where all believers—no matter their age, or education, or Bible knowledge, or Christian experience—take personal responsibility for helping those around them follow Jesus. A body of believers where each person is not only open to encouragement and admonishment by others, but actually, deliberately, goes out of their way to meet with others who have permission to speak into their lives.
What kind of church would that be? A church growing in maturity and Christlikeness, empowered for outreach and evangelism, and freed from having to “program” everything in the church? A church where needs would be anticipated and already met long before coming to the attention of pastors? A church where workers for Christ’s harvest would regularly rise up, having already gained critical experience in face-to-face discipleship as ones who both helped others grow and were themselves helped to grow?
That’s what Gathering One2One is all about. It’s a discipleship project designed with the hope of fostering this kind of culture in the life of the church. It seeks to see any, and every, Christian believer, regardless of their maturity or learning, equipped to help others grow and being helped to grow by others. The aim is to see every member of the church taking the initiative to meet with other members, one-to-one and peer-to-peer, to minister to each other.
GATHERING ONE-TO-ONE IN THE BIBLE
God gathers his people by, and around, his Word. The prophet Isaiah foretold a day where God would “say to the north, ‘Give up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold’” (Isa. 43:6a), commanding them to “bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth” (v. 6b). Isaiah merely echoed God’s words to Moses in Deuteronomy 4:10, where Moses recounts that “the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words...” This is why, in the New Testament church, pastors are commanded to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2) and to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim. 4:3). There is nothing more vital to the Christian life than gathering as God’s people around the public preaching of God’s Word. That’s where discipleship begins, where the saints are equipped for ministry.
Gathering around God’s Word as God’s people is not something that only happens when the church meets as a whole body. The New Testament shows how Christians who have already been equipped by good preaching can extend this gathering ministry to a one-to-one (or a one-to-one-to-one “triad”) context, as well. Remember the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8? God sent Philip to do one-to-one Bible reading with this high Ethiopian court official! Two men were gathered by the Holy Spirit around the Word of God, and the result was a growing disciple of Jesus. This Philip, who God used for this face-to-face ministry—he was no apostle; he wasn’t a pastor or elder in the church. In fact, his job in the church had been to do other stuff to free up the apostles for Word ministry and prayer (Acts 6:1-6)! But he didn’t need to be a pastor for God to bless this one-to-one Bible reading for his glory.
Another New Testament example of such “smaller-than-small-group” ministry is found in Acts 18:24-26. A sharp young Bible student named Apollos comes to Ephesus and preaches Jesus in the synagogue, but isn’t fully up to date (18:25). So Paul’s friends, the couple Priscilla and Aquila, take him aside and correct him gently (v. 26). What kind of ministry was this? This wasn’t a pastoral correction; after all Priscilla, being a woman, wasn’t a pastor or elder (cf. 1 Tim. 2:12). No, this was ordinary believer-to-believer ministry around the Gospel, the Word of God.
These examples are simply offered as evidence that ordinary Christians, regular church members, have a vital and powerful ministry to one another when they gather one-to-one around the Word of God.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll answer a few questions about this kind of ministry: can I do one-to-one ministry? What are the advantages of one-to-one ministry? Where do I start? What should we do when we meet? And we’ll provide some practical tools for you to use as you gather one-to-one to help each other follow Jesus.