How About One-to-Two Discipleship?

I realize that one-to-one is the gold standard in discipleship - and for good reason.  I wonder, though, if there isn’t a place for one-to-two or even one-to-three?   After all, Jesus often took Peter, James and John aside together for intentional teaching or experiential training together. 

Here are some reasons you might consider, from time to time, meeting with two girls together rather than only one.

1.       Have you ever met with a girl who is exceptionally quiet?  Maybe she is timid.  Perhaps she just doesn’t process your questions quickly.  Maybe she is a little intimidated by you!  Whatever the reason, getting her to open up and share her heart or express her thoughts feels like pulling teeth.  A third person might eliminate some of the awkwardness or pressure she feels.  As she listens to her friend share, it gives the timid one a little longer to process.  Hearing someone else may help her put her thoughts into words. (Note:  You will still need to work to draw her out and ensure that she doesn’t hide behind her friend’s thoughts and feelings.) 

2.       Meeting with two girls together adds another set of eyes, ears and another voice.  They will likely know things about one another you have not witnessed.  They can add affirmation or give a different perspective.  It is an added level of accountability.  Also, they will likely see each other in between meetings where they can continue to talk about what God is doing.

3.       It is a great way to model discipleship. What does it look like to cast vision for someone?  How do you have a hard conversation?   How do you learn to ask questions in order to draw someone out and get to know them on a deeper level?   We don’t usually learn METHODS as well when something is being done TO us, but when we can watch it taking place with someone else, we get to observe how it is done.  At any given time, one girl is observing how you are discipling the other girl. 

4.       It can be practical and strategic.  Discipleship is not about efficiency; however, in larger ministries there are inevitably a lot of women around who are eager for help, and not enough staff or upperclassmen available to meet with them.

5.       There is often more fun and more energy with an added person in the mix.

If you decide to try it:

  • Be sure you choose two women who have a natural affinity with one another.  Are they in the same small group?  Maybe they live in the same dorm?  Both on the worship team?  I would not choose two who are best friends, but it is helpful if they have some things in common.  I would even suggest telling one girl you would like to include another.  Give her two or three options and let her choose the third person.
  • From time to time, meet one-to-one with each of them separately.

Five Big Ideas for Discipleship


  1. The goal of meeting with someone is transformation not merely information.  When I was young and just starting out, someone asked me, “What do you want to see God do in the lives of your students?”  I was stumped.  I could have given you a long list of all the things I wanted my students to DO:  show up on Thursday nights, join a small group, have their quiet time, attend the fall retreat.  But why exactly?  How would you answer that question?  I realized I needed to take some time to think and pray about my vision and philosophy of ministry.  Do you long for her to know and love Jesus deeply?  Do you want God to have full and unhindered access to her life and heart?  Are you eager for her to develop a heart that trusts him?  Is she slowly maturing to become aware of the needs of others?  Howard Hendricks once said, “When God measures a man (or a woman), he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.”   That is transformation.  If this is true then . . .
  2. Praying for her is the most important part of preparing to meet with her.  Only God can work real and lasting change in someone’s life.  He will, however, kindly use you to lead and guide her if you will talk to HIM, before you talk with HER.   
  3. It is important to cast vision for her.  What do you see that she doesn’t yet see about her life? What are her gifts and strengths?  Where is there growth and change, even if it is small?  Where is God at work?  What do you think God wants to do in her?  What has he already done?  Where is she living with courage?  Who is she becoming?  Say those things out loud to her. 
  4. Listening equals loving.  These two things are so closely related that they are practically indistinguishable to most people.  (My paraphrase of a quote by David Augsburger.)  Cultivate the skill of asking good questions to draw her out.  I have discovered that if I listen well, sometimes students will discover their own answers, or perhaps discover the real question. “My dear (sisters), take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  James 1:19  
  5. People pleasing and/or perfectionism are toxic in discipleship relationships.  By this I mean your people pleasing and perfectionism!  You must deal with these tendencies in your own life. Here are a couple of warning signs to watch for:  Do you get angry when she doesn’t take your counsel?  Do you feel like a failure when she doesn’t show up to small group or the ministry picnic?  Cautionary note:  She is HIS disciple, never yours.   You cannot strong arm or manipulate someone into spiritual growth.