Who Should I Find to Gather One-To-One With?
The first step in gathering one-to-one is, rather obviously, to find someone to gather with! In order to help someone else to grow while being helped yourself, you should look for just three “qualifications” for your gathering partner.
Find Another Christian
First, find a fellow Christian believer. The purpose of gathering one-to-one is mutual growth. You’re looking not only to help someone else grow but be helped yourself. An unbeliever can teach you some things, but she or she isn’t (yet) either authorized or equipped by God through his Word to help you grow, and so won’t be able to admonish or encourage you the way a fellow believer would. So for the purpose of being helped to follow Jesus yourself, another believer will help you far more.
This is not, at all, meant to discourage you from meeting with an unbeliever over God’s Word if you have the chance. Far from it! It’s just that gathering with an unbeliever isevangelism, while gathering with a believer is mutual discipleship. These are different and distinct kinds of ministry. So if God gives the opportunity, why not do both, with different people?
Find A Member Of Your Own Church
Second, find someone in your local church. Paul, speaking of the local church, told the Corinthians: “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). When developing or using one’s spiritual gifts, the Christian’s first priority has to be building up his or her own local church. So, when looking for someone to gather with one-to-one, seek the good of your church in doing so!
It’s in those local churches that we are gathered around God’s Word, equipped through the ministry of that Word by elders, and held accountable by the congregation. A person in your own church is hearing the same Word every Sunday as you are, is being called to the same practical applications as you are, and has been given, by God, to you to “stir [you] up...to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).
Meeting with another member of your local church helps foster that church’s love and unity and strength far more than meeting with someone outside of it.
Find Someone Of Your Own Gender
Third, find someone of the same gender—with one exception, which we’ll talk about first. If you’re married, or if you’re actively preparing for marriage, then this kind of one-to-one ministry with your spouse (or spouse-to-be) is, really, what you should be doing anyway—so hopefully this will be of help to you! Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves his Bride the Church (Eph. 5:25), and one way Christ loves the church is “washing” her “with the Word” (5:26). If Jesus loves his Bride by giving his Word to her, so should husbands. Wives, too, like all believers are called to “admonish... encourage...[and] help” (1 Thes. 5:14) their husbands as fellow-heirs of the grace of life, which surely includes using God’s Word to do so.
But outside of marriage (or active preparation for marriage), it’s wise to find someone of the same gender for gathering one-to-one. For the most part, this rule avoids any possible perception of impropriety. It minimizes any misunderstanding by one person about the motives of the other person. It avoids the distraction of romantic attraction. Many biblical applications, many prayer concerns, and most rebukes or corrections are best shared with a person of the same gender.
Some Other Suggestions
With those three qualifications in mind, you should feel free to ask pretty much anyone in your church! That said, maybe try to meet with someone who you wouldn’t normally spend much time with! Someone of a different age, perhaps? Someone of a different cultural, ethnic, or racial background? Someone in a completely different career field? If you’re married, perhaps with a single (or vice versa)? If you have children, perhaps with a person who doesn’t? Is there anyone in the church who doesn’t seem to have relationships with a lot of people yet? Try to build up one another, and build up the church, by building fellowship across the whole congregation one-to-one around God’s Word!
More in Pastoral Blog
May 17, 2018God's Grace & Union School of Theology
May 12, 2018The Bible Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt
May 6, 2018Read Individual Passages in Light of the Whole Bible