Every college minister I know has one tried and true method they incorporate into their disciple-making strategy: one-on-one meetings. If the job is to make disciples, it is just about impossible to find a better way to do it. Students are far more willing to get personal and share in a one-on-one setting. They can lower their defenses and talk about what’s really going on in their lives. They are better listeners when they aren’t worried about the distractions of a group. That kid that won’t pray out loud in Bible study? He just might if you can get him alone.
One-on-one meetings are amazing! The problem for many of us, as leaders, isn’t knowing the why, however. The problem is what comes next—the how.
I know I’m supposed to meet with students, but what are we supposed to talk about?
The truth is that there are a lot of things you can do in those one-on-one meetings, an almost infinite amount of ground you can cover. Even if you have had some training or personal experience, choosing what to do can feel like an overwhelming task. Because there are so many options, you can get stuck trying to narrow it all down. It is fertile ground for decision paralysis.
On the other end of the spectrum are the many who are thinking, “Whuuut?! Options? I got nothing!” If you are one of those who want to start meeting with students individually but feel like a blank slate with no clue what to talk about… Don’t panic! There are all kinds of ways you can use that time productively.
There are so many options I don’t know which to choose!
Set the Goals
What you need is a plan, and the best way to come up with a plan is to start with the end in mind (thank you, Steven R. Covey). So, instead of asking yourself what you’re going to talk about together, think about what you want to accomplish with the time. From a spiritual leadership standpoint, are there:
- Specific topics you want to address?
- Skills you want to impart?
- Disciplines you want them to practice?
- Concepts you want them to learn?
And, conversely, from a personal standpoint, are there:
- Issues they need to address?
- Goals they want to achieve?
- Struggles they need to share?
As you think through these questions, you should get a better idea of what you want to do with the time you are being gifted when a student agrees to meet with you regularly.
Structure the Time
Personally, I like structure. For that reason, I have the student work through the Personal Development Plan Worksheet. It forces students to think through various areas of their life and begin to take ownership. After they fill it out, we talk about their answers. The idea is to build clarity and understanding so we can establish accountability through the weeks ahead. That’s the personal side of our meeting."The idea is to build clarity and understanding so we can establish accountability through the weeks ahead." -Jon Smith #collegiatedisciplemaker The Magical One-on-One Click To Tweet
I also like to go through material with them, a book or Bible study that serves to equip them in some way. Tactics by Gregory Koukl, Habitudes by Tim Elmore, and Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer are a few of my favorites, but there are a plethora of others that might be more appropriate for you and the students you meet with.
Finally, I pray together with them. Out loud and for one another. Prayer has been appropriately called “a Christian’s vital breath,” so we talk about prayer strategies more than once and learn how to do more than just ask God for stuff. For me, that’s a critical component. For you? That’s up to you to decide and that’s the beauty of it. There’s more than one right answer.
Seize the Differences
One last thing…
Every student is different. They have different personalities, gifts, talents, struggles and temptations. Similarly, you yourself have been uniquely gifted and equipped by God for this task—don’t forget that. What works for me might not be suitable for you, and what works for one student might be useless to another. Discipleship is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and it shouldn’t be overwhelming either. Don’t be afraid of the differences; seize them. He who has called you is faithful and able.
One-on-one… you’ve got this.