Can I Do One-to-One Ministry?
YES, GOD’S GIVEN YOU AUTHORITY TO BE A MINISTER!
Did you know that, if you're a member of a local church, you have biblical authority to minister? In First Thessalonians 5, speaking especially to those not serving as pastors, Paul urges the church: “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak” (v. 14). See, Paul encouraged the ordinary members of the church to be doing this, not just the leaders!
Here’s another illustration of this authority in action. Jesus, in Matthew 18:15-20, laid out four steps for a church to follow in dealing with a stubborn sinner. Notice the nature of the first two. The first step is for one believer to meet face-to-face—one-to-one!—with the sinner. This is exactly what Paul meant in saying “admonish the idle,” being done here in a one-to-one context! Ideally, no pattern of sin would ever get past this stage of discipline, because every sin would be confronted by just one person, in a private one-to-one gathering, and be repented of immediately. Notice what happens when the sinner remains stubborn, though. The whole church isn’t brought in yet. Jesus calls for another small gathering of just two, or three, believers to minister by confronting the sinner again. To put it differently, when Christians are helping one another follow Jesus one-to-one, it guards both church unity and the reputation of Jesus.
The point here is to call attention to the fact that in both of these stages, just two or three ordinary Christians are gathering to do ministry. And when they do, gathered as even just two or three, they do so with the authority of Jesus himself because he is among them (18:20). And if Jesus grants his own authority to gatherings of even two ordinary believers for admonishment, it stands to reason that he grants the same authority when they gather for encouragement or help to one another.
It doesn’t matter how learned or old you are! If you are a Christian, a member of a local church, you have the authority to minister to others.
YES, GOD’S EQUIPPING YOU TO BE A MINISTER!
Maybe some of you reading this are thinking, “I can’t be a minister to other people!” Maybe you’re young. Maybe you’re new in the faith. Maybe you struggle with theology or don’t yet know your Bible that well. And if you were being asked to meet with another Christian and minister to them out of your own cleverness or vast life experience, you’d be right. But you aren’t, for two reasons.
First, if you’re a member of a healthy local church, God has given you leaders: pastors, elders. Their job is not to do most of the ministry in the life of the church. As a church member, that’s your job! The elders’ job is to train you to do it. Paul made it clear to the Ephesian church that Jesus “gave...the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). So first, you’re equipped because God gave you leaders to equip you.
And second, God gave both you and those men what you need to be equipped with! The tool that pastors and elders use for this equipping ministry is God’s own Word, the Holy Scriptures, which are “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in all righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So second and even more important, you’re equipped because God gave his sufficient, ministry-preparing Word to equip you.
So if pastors or elders are given for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12), if they are commanded to preach the Word and read Scripture publicly (2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Tim. 4:3), and if they, following the apostles’ example, are actually to devote themselves to that ministry of the Word and prayer as opposed to other things, then their public ministry of the Word is God’s way of equipping you. Are you a committed member of a local church (Heb. 13:17)? Are you obeying God’s command to meet regularly together (Heb. 10:25)? If you are regularly gathering around God’s Word with God’s people, then you’re being equipped.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MIGHT HAPPEN?
Since you have God’s authority, and are being equipped by the Word, to minister to other believers, and since they have God’s authority, and are being equipped by the Word, to minister to you: what do you think might happen if you gather with another believer around God’s Word, deliberately, for the purpose of helping each other grow? Is it possible God might do something in you, and in the other person?
God’s Word will not return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it (Isa. 55:1). So it’s more than possible!