I’ve really enjoyed Phillip’s walk through the pastoral epistles and especially the focus on what kind of community the Gospel calls us to be. I think I can speak for the other elders when I say that one element we would love to see flourishing more at Sylvania is intentional community. However, for this to become a cultural reality, ingrained in the fabric of church-life at Sylvania, it must grow naturally not forced. Nevertheless, that does not mean that there should be an absence of structure upon which it can grow.
To have a community like the one we have been hearing taught through on Sunday mornings, it is fundamental that we get to know each other in a deeper manner. It is impossible to meet needs, encourage, challenge, etc., someone if we don’t know the needs, the efforts, or the struggles of others within the body. For fellowship to be truly Christian, it must center around Christ, and not be a social endeavor, merely.
A Call for One to One
One of the practical means of overcoming this hurdle (and there are others) is what is known as a “One-to-One” Bible reading. Tammy and I have encouraged the young adults in the College and Career class to be engaged in these studies with each other and with older adults in the congregation for years. Guys with guys and girls with girls. Titus 2 is the model.
Not only are they great for getting into a book of the Bible and thinking through what is being said more deeply than casual reading, but when you engage the Text at this level with someone else you get to know how that other person thinks, learn from their perspective as you walk through Scripture together, and are invited to a more intentional prayer for each other.
I do not want you to think that this is a labor-intensive study. It is not. In fact, I encourage our group to come to their meetings not having read the passage over which they will be covering. Sometimes, we miss the big picture for the brush strokes. These meetings are meant to be 30 minutes to an hour at most. Here’s the format we generally follow:
- Begin with prayer. Pray for wisdom, discernment and a heart to see the beauty of Jesus, your common bond, in the passage.
- One of you reads the passage out loud. Usually, we plan to read from one heading to the next (“pericope to pericope” for the raised-pinky crowd).
- Take 10 minutes of silent thought as you read through the passage again and look for three things:
- Light bulb: What strikes you about the passage?
- Question mark: What is hard to understand about the passage? Is there something you would like to be able to ask the author?
- An Arrow: Is there something that applies personally to your life?
- Each person should right down at least one thing under each question, but no more than three.
- Go through each category and take turns discussing what you’ve seen.
- Pray together about what you’ve learned.
That’s it. I usually bring a spiral notebook (or a tablet if I’m feeling trendy), a pen and my Bible.
Keep the Notes!
I keep my notes from these meetings and review them from time to time. I also try to write down interesting thoughts and insights gleaned from the person with which I am meeting. They make great outlines for teaching times later.
As you get more familiar with doing these types of studies, you can add additional questions. I like to also ask: What does it tell me about God? What does it tell me about me (mankind)? What is it calling on me to do?
The One to One book has a sample framework for the Gospel of Mark and additional instruction on other methods of Bible study. It’s a great book. We try to keep a stack of them on hand for the visitors in our class.
Great, Now What?
So, you’d like get into one of these studies with someone at Sylvania, but you just don’t know anybody to ask. Have I got a deal for you!
If you would like to get involved in one of these studies, please let me know. I would love to help you help us in building the community at Sylvania. Young adults need mentoring. Older adults need to be pouring into the generation coming up after them. It’s just what we’re called to do as the Body of Christ. One to Ones are a great method for making some of that happen. I hope you will join us.