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One-to-One Bible Reading: a simple guide for every Christian

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  1. great encouragement and practical suggestions Review / Tip by Jennifer Guo

    "[F]or generations we have been conditioned to think of spiritual growth mainly in terms of an event to go to, a program to register for or a class to take. The church often puts its creative energy into initiating events, programs and classes specially designed to win people to Christ and help them grow in the faith. And yet, as successful as some of these plans have been, we might still be missing out on something more dynamic – something more straightforward and right for this day and age – that returns gospel growth to the everyday fabric of personal relationship, rather than relying on church-run programs" (8-9, emphases original).

    In One to One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian,
    David Helm encourages believers to engage in intentional, regular one-on-one Bible reading with non-Christians, new Christians, and mature Christians. In this way, the church would reap the benefits of salvation of the lost, sanctification and strengthening of believers in the faith, and training of believers for ministry.

    In Part I, Helm provides the what, the why, and the how - making us aware of the evangelism and discipleship opportunities available, showing why the best way to take advantage of these opportunities is to engage in one-on-one Bible reading as opposed to waiting for church events and programs, and giving practical suggestions in how to get started and how to structure and navigate typical meetings. He also addresses the issue of preparation, first highlighting advantages to each approach, and then giving suggestions in how to prepare. This section ends with a very encouraging personal story of a non-Christian that Helm had built a relationship with who eventually became a Christian in the course of reading the Bible with him.

    Part II provides framework and ideas for getting started. Helm introduces two methods, one for beginners (the Swedish method) and one that is more advanced (the COMA method). The Swedish method basically entails looking for and discussing a light bulb (anything that stands out), a question mark, and an arrow (anything that applies personally). The COMA method involves discussing context, observation, meaning, and application. This section also provides suggested passages to study with each of the three categories of non-Christian, new Christian, and mature Christian (chapter 9), an introduction to the main genres of biblical literature with some tips for applying COMA method to each one (chapter 10), and an eight-week plan through Mark’s gospel with discussion questions (chapter 11). Appendix 1 provides a few resources for one-to-one Bible reading from the publisher (Matthias Media), again broken into categories of non-Christian, new Christian, and mature Christian. Finally, Appendix 2 provides more COMA questions for the major biblical genres, as well as an eight-week plan through Mark's gospel.

    This is a short and little book, and can easily be read in one sitting. For Christians who don't have much experience leading small group Bible studies or mentoring, it is an excellent resource that can encourage the believer to step out in courage and boldness to initiate a one-to-one Bible-reading relationship. Helm pastorally encourages the reader throughout the book that anyone can do this, that you don't need to know all the answers, and that ultimately it is God and the power of His Word that we trust. Coupled with intensely practical suggestions and sometimes step-by-step instruction (including several suggested reading plans complete with suggested discussion questions), this is a great resource for someone who might otherwise not know what to do and not ask someone to study the Bible with them.

    For believers who have led small group Bible studies and/or have mentored other believers, this book is very basic; you probably won't learn anything new, and you'll probably find that you've already implemented most of what this book suggests. Towards the end, I also found that a significant chunk was pages of lists of Scriptures and questions; again, for someone without experience leading Bible discussions, this is probably a helpful roadmap. For those who have the experience, it might seem unnecessary.

    The one thing I wish the author would have addressed is the matter of time. I would imagine that most who pick up this book are passionate about the local church and are already quite involved in many ways, including in a small group Bible study. Since it seems the author's vision is to see every believer also engaged in one-on-on Bible study with a non-Christian, new-Christian, and mature Christian (weekly, biweekly and monthly, respectively, as hypothetical suggestions), it can leave us thinking how in the world we could find the time for three separate individual Bible studies in addition to church Bible study, other ministry, etc.

    Overall, though, I do think the message of this book is a great one because all believers are called to engage in evangelism to the lots and building up other believers. One-to-one Bible study is an effective way to pursue these callings, and this book is a great manual for the task.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher for review. I was not obligated to provide a favorable review, and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. (Posted on 28/11/2013)

  2. He proposes that a simple framework of Bible reading and discussion (accompanied by prayer) Review / Tip by chris

    I received this book as a review copy from Matthias Media in exchange for an honest review. I was intrigued by the product description for One to One Bible Reading. As a result, I requested it. One of the things that has struck me the most in the Christian life is the importance of Bible reading and prayer. Ultimately, every single Christian work of literature should be examined in light of its biblical accuracy. Sadly, too many professing Christians derive their theology and practice from what extra-biblical authors say the Bible says, rather than looking at the Bible themselves to see if it actually does say such things. Helm seeks to rectify such a scenario in his present work.

    Helm identifies three different segments of people – unbelievers, new believers, and longtime believers. He proposes that a simple framework of Bible reading and discussion (accompanied by prayer) utilized in meetings with individuals in any of those three categories will be extremely beneficial. She even urges readers who feel intimidated such an arrangement to reconsider their reluctance. He urges them to simply ask someone – unbeliever, new believer, or long-time believer – If he or she is interested in such meetings. The worst that may happen is a person declines the offer. Helm reminds the reader that he or she will not have every answer to every question, and it is okay to do further research to find answers before the next meeting.

    I remember having meetings such as this during Bible college and growing immensely as a result. Somewhere along the way we begin to think we need more than the Bible and prayer. I appreciate the author's call to return to reading and studying the Bible together. He also urges prayer before inviting others to participate, and prayer during the meetings. The book has explanatory outlines of how to organize the meetings. Helm supplies an introductory approach and also a more in-depth approach. The author also tailors these approaches to be genre specific and supplies outlines which may be photocopied or downloaded from the Matthias Media website.

    I truly appreciate David Helm's accessible writing style and the approach to disciplemaking which he sets forth here. Again, there is nothing earth shattering here in this book. But, that was not the author's intention. Helm as a pastor and a Christian man is simply calling God's people to utilize what God has given to the church for her mission of making disciples. It should be obvious to every Christian that the most important things in the Christian life are the things we find ourselves neglecting the most – the Word of God and prayer – in our personal lives and relationships with nonbelievers and believers alike. I recommend this book as a helpful tool for making disciples in and outside of the local church. (Posted on 19/06/2013)

  3. Review - One-to-One Bible Reading Review / Tip by David Shaw

    When we read the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) we find one of the commands that Christ gives the church is to make disciples. A disciple is someone who follows Christ so we have the command to help others be sold out in service to Him. Sounds simple yet when you sit down and really think about it, it can be quit involving. One may not be sure where to begin. I believe we begin by simply reading the Word with them, helping them to gain a better understanding of God’s commands then showing them how to live it out. All other aspects of our life with Christ flow from living out Scripture.

    In David Helm’s wonderful book One-to-One Bible Reading he gives us clear advice on how to meet with someone to read the Bible. The first seven chapters give the what, why and how on reading the Bible with someone and the last four give great application. Usually when a book gives application I get nervous but not with this book. I could see using his ideas as I disciple others in studying Scripture.

    They have created questions you can discuss for each Bible reading you have with someone. They even have tailored the questions for sections of the Bible like the Gospels and Acts, Old Testament narrative, the epistles, etc.

    If you are serious about discipling someone (that should be all of us) and not sure where to start (that is many of us), this is the book for you.

    Disclaimer- I received this book for free from matthiasmedia for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site. (Posted on 17/06/2013)

  4. Simply the best disciple-making tool available! Review / Tip by Jim Drake

    It doesn’t take a whole lot of research and insight to understand the greatest weaknesses of most churches are evangelism and discipleship. Fixing those problems would cure most (if not all) of what ails us. Salvations, baptism rate, church discipline, regenerate church membership, giving, church planting, unity, doctrinal fidelity—all would be cured if we could just get our evangelism and discipleship problems fixed. Because of that, there are countless programs developed and books written on those subjects. I have benefitted from many of those books and many of those costly church programs can be very effective. But I believe the little book, One-to-One Bible Reading, by David Helm, can have more impact on your church than anything else.

    Why? Because of its biblical simplicity. The author does not just pay lip-service to the fact that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God—he really believes it and has built his whole evangelism/discipleship concept around it. The book is only 103 pages long, with over one-quarter of its pages taken by resource helps and copyable worksheets to aid in your reading. The concept is simple. If you have a friend who needs Jesus—read the Bible together with him. If you have a friend who is seeking answers—read the Bible together with her. If you have a friend who needs to develop her faith—read the Bible together with her. If you have a strong Christian friend who needs to develop as a leader—read the Bible together with him. It’s a very simple concept. That’s why the book is so short.

    Though it is a simple concept, it is an absolutely life, community and church changing concept. That’s why the author takes seriously people’s apprehension about doing it. No Christian would deny the power of the Gospel to save and transform lives. But at the same time, most Christians would be terrified to ask a friend or business colleague to read through the Gospel of Mark with them. The author removes much of that apprehension by clearly and simply describing the process. He also provides two simple methods of studying the text together, as well as Q&A sheets you can copy and share.

    At the risk of seeming superfluous, other than the Bible, I can think of no other book with as great a potential to radically change your life and your church as this one.

    Paperback: 103 Pages
    Publisher: Matthias Media (April 1, 2011)
    ISBN-10: 1921441984

    Matthias Media provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. In no way did that influence my opinion of the book or my review.
    (Posted on 11/06/2013)

  5. Must Read! Must Do! Review / Tip by Jim Orr

    Bible reading made simple! That’s another title for an excellent little book that is actually called One to One Bible Reading. The subtitle says it well: a simple guide for every Christian. That is exactly what you will find as you read it. By the way, it’s also an easy read. You will finish it in one sitting! The author is David Helm, a pastor in Chicago, and what you will read is the result of his own personal ministry of Bible reading with others.

    The basic message of the book is that every Christian can read the Bible with another person and gain understanding of God’s message. The early part of the book establishes the purposes of reading one to one: evangelism, discipleship, training, and relationship. You can do your reading with someone who is not a Christian, someone who is a new Christian, someone who needs training for ministry, or someone with whom you wish to strengthen your relationship. The focus is on God’s Word.

    Helm then gives two different approaches to studying the Bible with the other person. One approach, the Swedish Bible Study approach, using simple diagrams of a light bulb, question mark and an arrow to highlight areas where a person is either impressed by something in the passage (a light bulb), has a question about something he/she does not understand (a question mark), or sees a specific application to their life (an arrow). These items are then discussed between the people involved.

    The second approach uses COMA questions, where the readers focus on specific questions relating to Context, Observation, Meaning, or Application. This approach is a more advanced and in-depth way of studying the Bible.

    The appendix of the book gives you some general questions to ask for the various genres that you find in the Bible (narrative, poetry, expository, prophesy, etc.). These questions are also available through the publishers website for free to be printed as needed (much better than copying the pages from the book!). The questions are based on the COMA Bible study method.

    Allow me to share with you my own personal experience using the One to One Bible Reading approach. I have used it in small groups as well as one to one. I have used it with my wife. Though I have tried both approaches to studying the Bible with someone else, the COMA method has been particularly effective in getting to the meaning and application of the passage after determining context and doing the important work of observation.

    I have been blessed by the insights I have gained as I shared thoughts with those who are reading with me. It does not require a great deal of preparation (you can do all the work when you are together or in advance, your choice!), nor does it require one person to be the teacher and the other a student (both are students, learning together!). Yes, there will be times when you will want go deeper by studying other resources (commentaries come to mind), but there is plenty of “gold” to mine right there in your Bible.

    This book is an excellent tool to be used for evangelism and discipleship. I cannot give it any higher recommendation. Get a hold of a couple of the books and share it someone else so that you can begin the life-changing process of allowing God’s Word transform your life and the life of someone important to you. (Posted on 28/05/2013)

  6. Quick easy read packed with helpful, applicable information. Review / Tip by Dana with The True Vine Online

    I ordered this book to assist with writing a bible reading program for our website ( and small groups. I absolutely love this book! It is straight to the point, packed with applicable information that you can use right now! Thank you. You are all invited to visit our website to view my full video review. Thanks again. (Posted on 25/01/2012)

  7. Clarification Review / Tip by Tony Payne, Matthias Media, Publishing Director

    We're always grateful when readers point out typos or mistakes in our resources so that we can fix them up in the second printing. Some eagle-eyed readers of "One-to-One Bible Reading" have pointed out a gaffe on page 61 that is worth saying something about briefly. A sentence on that page reads: "The epistles are first- and second-century letters, all written in Greek".

    For those who know about these things, this sounds like a pretty liberal view of the composition of Scripture--suggesting that some of the New Testament epistles weren't written until the second century (i.e. after the lifetime of the apostles). Just to reassure you that we haven't started to go wobbly, this is not the view of David Helm (the author) nor of our editors here at Matthias Media. We're all convinced that the epistles were written in the first century!

    How the 'second-century' reference got there in the first place, we're not entirely sure. Dave Helm thinks it might have been a slip of his pen due to the academic context at the University of Chicago in which he ministers. And how the phrase got all the way through our editorial process without someone noticing it, I also cannot explain. (Well, I can. We messed up!)

    Needless to say, we will fix this in our second printing.

    Tony Payne
    Publishing Director (Posted on 20/06/2011)

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