King Solomon once wrote, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17). So, how can two men or two women sharpen one another in a way that glorifies the Lord and promotes true Christian growth? Too often, it’s easy for times of “fellowship” to remain superficial – chatting about the latest sporting event, opining about current news, or engaging in other “water cooler” conversations. Certainly there’s a time and place for such discussion, but such times don’t inherently promote the metal-to-metal refinement King Solomon envisioned.
So, how can we cultivate such mutually beneficial relationships? There is no magic pill or task list that, once taken or completed, yields such growth. It doesn’t take well-refined programs or detailed structures (although these have their place). Rather, Christ has given us means and ordained certain contexts that he intends to use in order to make us more like himself.
The means of God’s Word brought into the context of relationships with fellow followers of Christ is a primary way the Lord nurtures his people. The union of Word and relationships occurs on a large-scale in our corporate worship. It occurs at a smaller scale in our Sunday School classes and other gatherings. It also exists even more personally as two or three (or more) believers get together to read and discuss Scripture together, to wrestle with one another about how the truths of Scripture impact their daily lives, and to pray for another. This page is directed to that more personal context. Here you will find some tools that you can use with a fellow believer to structure a time of one-to-one (or slightly larger) discipleship and accountability.
One-to-One Resources and Tutorials
- One-to-One Bible Reading. The tagline for this book is not under-speak: a simple guide for every Christian. The book is just that: a short, easy-to-read guide to reading Scripture one-to-one with another person that every Christian can put into practice. The volume provides two different methods for reading and discussing Scripture with someone else, and it includes suggested plans for a short program of reading. Also available in .epub and .mobi formats. [$, a limited number of free hard copies are available at RBC]
- Reading121.org. This 4-part online course covers the content of One-to-One Bible Reading (above), just in a different format. You can work through the material on your own, with another person, or with a group of friends. Each session is designed to last 45 to 60 minutes and contains printable PDF documents to allow you to engage with the material at your own pace. [Free]
- COMA Questions. The questions are designed to help two (or more) believers read, think through, and apply a passage of Scripture. Different questions are provided for different types (genres) of books in the Bible. Also included are eight sets of questions for selected sections through the Gospel of Mark. These particular questions through Mark are designed to be used evangelistically with an interested non-Christian. [Free]
- Factotum on Prayer and Bible Reading. The name sounds funny, but don’t let that stop you! This short article offers additional thoughts and encouragements related to one-to-one Bible reading. [Free]
- Note: the ideas presented in the resources above can be adapted for groups of 3 or more. Likewise, the small group reading resources below could be used as guides for just two people.
Small Group Reading and Study
- Pathway Bible Guides. Each study contains a Bible reading and a series of questions designed to help you consider key ideas in the passage read. The publisher describes these guides as “simple, straightforward Bible study material,” and “simple without being simplistic; no-nonsense without being no-content.” From Matthias Media. [$, samples are available to look through at RBC]
- Interactive Bible Studies. The majority of these study guides cover a book of the Bible (or part of a book, or a couple of books in the case of shorter books). There are also a handful of topical studies. The studies in this series are designed to be more detailed than those in the “Pathway Bible Guides” series and to promote “interaction” with the Scriptures. Also from Matthias Media. [$, samples are available to look through at RBC]
- Good Book Guides. These guides cover a book of the Bible (or portion of a book) and are intended to aid you in finding the meaning of a passage of Scripture, in fitting the the passage into the big picture of the Bible, and with applying the truths of God’s Word to your life. From The Good Book Company. [$, samples are available to look through at RBC]
- LifeChange Studies. These studies focus on a single book of the Bible and provide questions and supporting material to promote understanding what the text says and what it means. Recommendations for further study are provided in the margins and at the end of each study. From NavPress. [$, samples are available to look through at RBC]