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Step 1:
Discipleship


Consider: What do you think it means to live as a Christian?

The Christian’s life is frequently described in the Bible in terms of a journey. Jesus calls us to “follow” him on this journey (Mark 1:17). Jesus tells us to walk the “difficult path” that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). Paul describes living as a Christian as a “race” in which Christ is the reward (2 Timothy 4:7). Christianity was first known as “The Way” (Acts 9:2). Christians must “walk in the same way Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6). And Jesus said that he himself is “the way” to God (John 14:6).

The twelve lessons in Next Steps are foundational “steps” for the Christian walk. They are not tasks we accomplish but life-long practices we learn, remind one another of, and continually follow our entire life.

Following Jesus
All of us as Christians are loved, saved, forgiven, and adopted because Jesus has called us to himself. Jesus called us to become his disciples. At the beginning of Mark’s gospel, Jesus called several men to become his disciples.

Mark 1:17
And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

This invitation from Jesus to his first disciples is also what Jesus has called us to and serves as a simple outline of what it means to be Jesus’ disciple: follow Jesus and fish for men. Next Steps are designed to help us grow as disciples, in the context of Christian community, by focusing on two categories: God's Word and God's Mission. In each lesson the “God’s Word” section emphasizes our discipleship and seeks to help us grow with other Christians as followers of Jesus. The “God’s Mission” sections emphasize our discipling and seeks to help us grow as fishers of men.

God’s Word
The essence of following Jesus is doing what he did and obeying what he commanded. Though Jesus is not bodily present in the world today, we have something that Jesus said is even better! Jesus’ Spirit is with each and every Christian, always, wherever we go. And we have the Bible, which is God’s Word, sufficient to instruct us about everything we need for the Christian life. We see what Jesus did and hear what Jesus commanded through reading God’s Word, the Bible.

Growing as a Christian
What does it mean to grow as a disciple? It is more than merely increasing in knowledge about Jesus and Jesus’ teaching. Growing as a disciple means we follow, we do, we obey, we practice what Jesus modeled and taught. Jesus said that disciples must be taught “to observe all that [he] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). When following Jesus we should immediately begin to obey each of Jesus’ commands as we learn them. Our maturity as a disciple is measured not by how much we know but by how much we obey.

Relationship with Jesus
Jesus is God; he is Savior; he is Master; he is Teacher. Jesus also said that he is our friend:

John 15:13-15
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Jesus wants a relationship with us. And we are his friends if we do what he commanded. Furthermore, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15).

Consider: If we have love for Jesus we will obey him. Why do you think this is so?

Grace and Discipleship
We follow Jesus because we are loved, saved, forgiven, and adopted. We do not follow Jesus in order to be accepted. In fact, nothing we do can earn us God’s acceptance. Jesus is the one who lived the perfect life of obedience to God, died in our place on the cross for our forgiveness, and rose to life for our justification. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. Along the journey of the Christian life we will sin, but just as God accepted us through faith in Jesus when we were broken sinners, so his grace will restore us and sustain us when we sin and fail.

What Did Jesus Command?
Jesus taught many things. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God and others (Next Steps 2). In fact, loving God is the foundation and motivation of following Jesus and is the purpose for our lives. Jesus taught us to pray (Next Steps 3). And through reading God’s Word (Next Steps 4) we can learn the many other commands of Jesus, including worship (Next Steps 5), gathering in Christian community (Next Steps 6), and offering (Next Steps 7).

Discipleship in Community
Jesus calls us to follow him in the context of a community of other followers. We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. Fellow disciples help us see, pay attention to, and understand Jesus’ commands in the Bible; they hold us accountable to his commands; and they remind us of Jesus’ grace when we fail to obey his commands. Next Steps is intended to be used in in the context of a small group of disciples.

Each Next Steps lesson will challenge each individual to share with the group how they need to concretely obey God’s Word that week. Group members will hold one another accountable by asking one another how they have obeyed what they learned in the previous lesson. And group members should enjoy Christian fellowship with one another by carrying one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, and praying for one another.


GOD'S MISSION

Jesus told us that if we follow him, he will make us become fishers of men. This means that like fishermen, we cast out the gospel of God’s love in Jesus to everyone we can in obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28, “make disciples.”

God’s mission:
John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

God’s desire:
1 Timothy 2:3-4

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God wants all people to be saved, and anyone can be saved if they believe in Jesus. But they need to hear first!

Romans 10:13-15
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

Consider: Who did God send into your life to tell you about his love and gospel?

Every disciple of Jesus is called to be a fisher of men! Every Christian is called to fulfill God’s Mission. Therefore, God’s Mission is our mission.

Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

God desires that people from every nation (meaning every ethnicity and language) will be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians we get to be a part of this global mission. It starts with making disciples among those in our own house and those we encounter in daily life and extends to the ends of the earth. Making disciples--discipling--is a core part of our discipleship.

Practically, how can we start? Here are three practical ways to begin doing God’s Mission right now!

1. Make a Prayer List
Take out a piece of paper and pen, or open a note app on your phone. Silently and by yourself pray to God and ask him to help you think of every family member, friend, coworker, neighbor, acquaintance, or anyone else in your life who is not a Christian. Write down their names. How many names are on your list? Set a goal to pray for the people on this list everyday. First, pray that God will give you wisdom in how to share the gospel with them, and opportunities to do so. Second, pray that the Holy Spirit will prepare them to hear the gospel message by giving them a heart that is hungry for God, so that when you share the gospel with them, they will put faith in Jesus.
Prayer List:

2. Prepare Your Testimony
In order to make disciples we need to share the gospel. One of the best ways to share the gospel is by first sharing our personal testimony. This is what Jesus told a man in Mark 5:19, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Let’s take a few minutes to brainstorm what God has done for us individually, and how he has changed our lives.

One way to prepare your testimony is to follow this simple outline: (1) What was your life like before you met Jesus? (2) How did you come to encounter and believe in Jesus? (3) What difference has Jesus made in your life? (Example: I was looking for happiness through success at work but felt empty… My coworker told me about Jesus… Now Jesus has given purpose and meaning to my life…)

Be authentic and honest as you share what God had done for you. Your unique story of God rescuing you is miraculous and effective for helping others know Jesus.

Practice sharing your testimony with someone in your group.

3. Share the Gospel
After you've shared your story you need to share Jesus' story. One of the ways you can share the gospel is by inviting someone to study First Steps with you. First Steps is a 5-part Bible study that can be facilitated by anyone, anywhere.

Just like following Jesus is meant to be done in community, so God’s Mission is meant to be done in community. In each Next Steps lesson, we will set a goal to share the gospel with someone and pray for one another. Additionally, we will hold one another accountable and encourage one another along the way.

Let's make a goal and pray with one another right now! Looking at your prayer list, choose 1 to 3 people with whom you want to share your testimony and the gospel, in the next two weeks. Share their names with your group and pray for one another and the people you just listed. Next time we will ask one another how it went!

The Christian life, like a race, is not without struggle. Sin and the effects of sin make the Christian walk a challenge, but Jesus is always with us, as he promised. The Biblical teaching summarized throughout Next Steps will help guide your steps as you follow Jesus and fish for men. This small group of Christians will also undoubtedly be a great encouragement throughout the journey.
Consider: What do you think it means to live as a Christian?

The Christian’s life is frequently described in the Bible in terms of a journey. Jesus calls us to “follow” him on this journey (Mark 1:17). Jesus tells us to walk the “difficult path” that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). Paul describes living as a Christian as a “race” in which Christ is the reward (2 Timothy 4:7). Christianity was first known as “The Way” (Acts 9:2). Christians must “walk in the same way Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6). And Jesus said that he himself is “the way” to God (John 14:6).

The twelve lessons in Next Steps are foundational “steps” for the Christian walk. They are not tasks we accomplish but life-long practices we learn, remind one another of, and continually follow our entire life.