So true, Seth!! Just reading your “favorites”, I liked the running dog one, too ;-).
There are a hundred reasons why people don’t do one-on-one discipleship. In England, I met a vicar who wouldn’t meet on a regular basis with young people because of sexual abuse worries. The former director of one of the largest discipling ministries in the country advocated meeting one-on-three because it is more efficient. On the surface, this is appealing; think about it, you could triple your productivity by meeting with three people.
But for all that, you can’t replace the one-on-one meeting. There’s a place for small groups, but young people are crying out for identity. They want to know, “do you care?” They want your time, eyeball-to-eyeball. No cheap substitutes, well-intentioned though they may be. You don’t get your identity from your father or your mother when they are addressing you in a group, you and all your brothers and sisters. You get your identity when they treat you as an individual.
If you’re imparting sheer information, you can meet one-on-three or one-on-a thousand, it doesn’t matter. But if you’re more concerned with formation than information, spiritual formation that is, then you need to give feedback, you need to create the opportunity for vulnerability and personal affirmation. These are the staples of a one-on-one discipler.
Ten years from now when you and your disciple are living in different towns and no longer able to visit with one another regularly, it won’t be the facts that you imparted that they remember. When they think of you, they will remember the individual time that you invested in them. Their memories of your times together will encourage them as they enter new phases of life.