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Public Church Practices: One to One Relational Meeting

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene the congregations and then invite them to practice the artforms of the Public Church Framework in their contexts.

Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework. It is the movement out into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ stories. In this movement, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor for the neighbor’s sake. We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four layers, or four different practices to hear the neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the fourth layer of accompaniment, a relational one to one.

two people talking on an outdoor bench

A One to One Relational Meeting

What is a One to One?

A one to one is an intentional, curiosity-driven conversation with someone you want to know, or get to know more deeply.  The primary purpose of a one to one conversation is to build or deepen relationships. Some of the secondary purposes of a one to one include, uncovering their interests and values, gathering information, and more clarity about themselves.

A one to one is:

  • A conversation with another person for an agreed upon length of time
  • Getting to know the other person and being known
  • A chance to go deeper in conversation
  • A way to understand what someone cares about and why

A one to one is not:

  • An interview with rapid one-sided questions
  • A date or sales pitch
  • A recruitment device with a set agenda
  • Surface level small talk
  • A opportunity to preach to or convert someone

Why do we do a One to One?

There are many reasons “why” we do a one to one relational meeting. One core theological reason is that we believe in a God who is relational and a God who created humans in God’s image. To know another human more deeply, is to get a glimpse of a fuller picture of who God is.

Practically speaking, another reason for why we do one to one meetings, is because they are effective ways of getting to hear the neighbors’ stories first hand.

How do we do a One to One?

A one to one could happen in a varitety of ways and locations. Below is an outline of the key ingredients to a one to one realtional meeting.

1. Plan a time to meet.

When you are inviting someone to meet with you, introduce yourself, explain why you want to meet with them, and ask if you can have 45 minutes of their time.  Make it clear that you are coming to hear their ideas, and not to sell them on anything.

2. Prepare for the conversation.

Think about what you might already know about the person, and what you want to know about this person.

Prepare some thoughts about how you want to introduce yourself.

Brainstorm, or choose, which types of questions you’d like to ask them.

Here are some example questions:

  • What is your vision for a loving, good world? Who do you see making that happen?
  • What brings you joy? Hope?
  • What keeps you up at night?  
  • What kind of church do you want to be a part of ? 
  • What kind of community do you want to be a part of?
  • What do you love about this neighborhood?

This handout from the Episcopal Church has many more question suggestions that are context specific: One-to-One Relational Meeting.

3. Conversation

When you gather for your conversation, introduce yourself and explain why you are there. Begin with a few simple question to develop a relaxed conversation.

Pay attention to what the person seems interested in and excited to talk about. Ask follow-up questions about these things. Listen for things that could lead in to a longer story.

You may find that you and the person you’re visiting with have things in common, feel free to acknowledge those similarities and share briefly about yourself to build trust and connection, but always return the focus to your partner. The person visited should speak about 60% of the time together. People are often flattered, and honored to share about their experiences.

4. Closing

Be respectful of the person’s time and end at the previously agreed upon time. Take a moment to jot some notes down afterwards. It is better to take notes after than to take notes during the conversation. Think about what they shared with you and what you learned about them.


To learn more about a One to One Relational Meeting, check out this helpful handout from the Episcopal Church, or this more detailed handout from the ELCA