Book Review: 1-2-1 Discipleship-helping one another grow spiritually by Christine Dillon.
Reviewed by Alison Roberts.
If you have ever thought about meeting one-to-one (1-2-1) with someone, but weren’t sure how to do it, this is the book for you. I first read this book when I was feeling a bit daunted about doing 1-2-1 and found it invaluable. Christine Dillon, an OMF missionary who has worked in Taiwan for the past twelve years, has written a great resource which clearly explains what is involved in discipling another person.
The book is divided into four sections: ‘Understanding Discipleship’, ‘The practicalities of Discipleship’, ‘Passing on Useful Skills’ and ‘When is Enough Enough?’
Dillon starts by reminding us that as Christians we are all Jesus’ disciples and we are all called ‘to make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). She defines a disciple as ’a follower of Jesus who is becoming increasingly like Him’.(p.13)
As a disciple of Jesus, we should be growing in our Christian maturity- developing our knowledge, character, attitude and skills and helping those around us to grow also.
One way to grow in our Christian lives and to disciple others is to be meeting 1-2-1 with someone. Meeting regularly with one other person has a number of advantages to discipling someone in a group setting. One-to-one is much more flexible, you can decide between the two of you what to study, how regularly to meet and when to meet. You can adapt it to suit your circumstances.
I met with a woman when Rachel was a toddler. We would put the kids in front of ‘Playschool’ and do as much as we could before we were interrupted- we didn’t do much, but it was still encouraging!. When our girls were at school, I met with some mums at their place while their kids were sleeping. I have met people at our home and in cafes and chatted and prayed with people after a walk.
Meeting once a week or once a fortnight has worked well for me in the past. That regularity has been extremely helpful as it meant I got to know the other person really well (and vice versa) and as a result we were better able to encourage and challenge each other in our Christian walk.
Even once a month is better than not at all…. I ‘meet’ with a missionary friend every few months via the internet. We share what we have been reading in the bible and in Christian books, how we have been challenged and then pass on any prayer points that we have.
‘The Practicalities of Discipleship’ runs through the nitty-gritty of discipleship : how to choose who to disciple, working out their spiritual maturity and how to go about discipling them. It describes how to work out what to study together and different methods of studying the bible. It covers the way people learn and offers advice on how to deal with difficult situations.
‘Passing on Useful Skills’ covers how to train someone in different skills- personal bible study, evangelism and prayer and the final section discusses how to know when to finish meeting with someone and the importance of personal debriefing to address any issues. This section was helpful as I often see meeting with someone as a six month- one year commitment- It’s great if you can met with someone for that long, but it can feel like a big commitment, which may prevent people from having a go. Dillon suggests that you can just meet for six-eight weeks and then decide whether to continue or not.
Each chapter of the book ends with some reflection questions to help you think through or practise what has been taught in the chapter.
As the goal of discipleship is Christian maturity, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey we can all benefit from meeting 1-2-1 with someone. If you aren’t feeling super confident about it, start doing it with a friend. That’s what I did after I had had a break from it-we trialled different question options e.g. Swedish method to assess which ones we preferred. (see below for another example). We then went on to meet with other people.
If you aren’t currently meeting 1-2-1 with someone, can I encourage you to seriously consider it. Every time I meet with someone no matter how reluctant or tired I have been beforehand, I have always come away challenged and refreshed in my Christian faith. If you are interested, but are unsure of who to meet with, speak to someone on staff and they will be able to suggest someone.
Another example of questions to ask when reading a passage
The teaching method:
• What does this passage teach about
• The Christian Life
• What should we change in our thinking or behaviour?
• What should we pray about?