Here are a few frequently asked questions along with our best attempts at answers for you to read. You can also download and print these questions and answers [pdf, 55kb]. If your question is not asked here, please feel free to contact us with it.

Q. This is called reading “one-to-one.” Does that mean it only works with one other person?
A. No, not really. If you are reading with a natural pair (e.g. married couple, best friends), reading with two or even more people is certainly useful. And especially in cases where the goal is training people to read with others rather than reading with non-Christians or young Christians, group work can be a really efficient way of reading. Just remember, the more you grow the group, the more you trade in each person’s ability to be in intimate dialogue with you. As such, we strongly urge you to keep the group as small as possible.

Q. It seems like there is a relational cost to asking somebody I know well. How do I get over the awkwardness of introducing this very concrete idea of how we should spend time?
A. This is an indication that the people with whom it is the hardest to get started are the people who are closest to us. First, we would encourage you to pray. Of course, pray that the person would be receptive. But also, pray that you would count the cost and willingly embrace the results either way. Second, we would encourage you to look for the right opportunity in the course of normal conversations rather than setting out to ask the person by the end of the week. Third, do everything you can (especially logistically) to protect the relationship and show the person that you are acting out of love.

Q. Do I need to be prepared to read one-to-one? Or can I handle it on the fly?
A. You can do it either way. There is some undeniable value to preparing. But most people do not want too much preparation. They might become suspicious of your agenda as being something different than simply reading the Bible. We would encourage you do some preparation or, at least, read the text. This will help you avoid “impressionistic” reading that distorts the text. Also, the study questions in the book and on this website can serve as both preparation questions for you and discussion questions when you meet (or one or the other).

Q. Why do you start with the Gospel of Mark?
A. We like it because it is short and simple. Most people who have not spent a lot of time in the Bible really need something that has a simple structure and conclusion. It is also good, especially with non-Christians, to be in a Gospel. Of course, you will know what is the right book (or section of a book) to read with someone. So, go for it!

Q. Do I need to be connected in physical space in order to read the Bible one-to-one?
A. Not necessarily. We know of people who are reading one-to-one across the world, literally, using Internet video-conferencing tools (e.g. FaceTime, Skype). But this only really works on the basis of a previously established relationship. As long as you have the established relationship, you can definitely read one-to-one online.

Q. What comes after reading the Bible one-to-one?
A. Life in community is important. Reading one-to-one is not a strategy for evangelism or discipleship that marks some kind of discernible achievement for the people who participate. That is, you don’t graduate from reading the Bible one-to-one. Rather, it is a way of strengthening and expanding relationships. So, for some, the next step is read another book of the Bible with the same person. For others, the next step is challenging the other person to read with someone else. Reading one-to-one is simply a way of enriching a community of believers around Scripture.

Q. What about reading other things?
A. Reading other things is good. Churches make use of popular books, commentaries, and other literature all the time. We are all for it. But none of it is the Bible. As such, we strongly encourage everyone to dedicate some time to intentional conversation about God’s Word. Maybe it’s a season. Maybe it’s all you do from now on. In either case, there is immeasurable value to being in the foundational document of our faith and organizing relationships around it at least some of the time.

Q. What if I discover we have denominational or theological differences?
A. On the one hand, reading one-to-one allows you to focus on just the Bible. If you know you disagree about certain secondary issues, then you might just agree to treat each other with charity and focus on just the text in front of you. Of course, this means you will want to be wise in how you select what texts to read together. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to really focus on the essentials of the Christian faith. People from other religions often enjoy reading one-to-one as a way of understanding, in the context of a personal relationship, the Christian faith better. It takes trust and it takes time, but it is definitely worth it.

Q. What if the person really disagrees with the text or how I am reading it? What if they begin to manipulate the text to suit their own agenda?
A. Live differences are important. Remember, we are assuming something of a relationship here as the foundation. If you have the relationship, you can both agree that there are some fundamental differences in how you are reading the Bible or the conclusions you are reaching. Sometimes, the right course is to continue. In love, let the person travel with you and keep firmly, but lovingly, making the case. Other times, it may become clear that the other person is not interested in a dialogue or what you or the Word of God has to say. In those cases, it might be time to shut it down and move on.