Walking on the water toward his disciples, Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:27-32).
Never belittle Peter for his doubt because at least he was willing to try. I much more admire someone who has tried and failed than someone who sits in the boat, warm and content. Just two chapters later, Peter jumps into the fray and is the first to confirm Christ’s Deity, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16). Jesus blessed Peter for his reply. Shortly thereafter, with fresh confidence, Peter begins to rebuke Jesus and the Lord says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Granted, Peter made his share of mistakes. But his willingness to try, and even fail, supplied him with insight that few other apostles possessed.
Believers don’t become disciples of Jesus by simply gaining more knowledge. Rather, the biblical knowledge must be mixed with obedience. Maturity in Jesus means practically using that knowledge and taking the next step in life and ministry.
Each person is on a different step in the journey. For the new believer it might mean joining a cell group, participating in the group, and then taking the discipleship equipping. For an experienced cell member who has taken the equipping, the next step is being part of the leadership team. But there are additional steps: leading the cell, coaching cell leaders, being part of the pastoral team, and even planting a church.
Wherever you are on the journey, take the next step that is appropriate for you. The famous Chinese maxim holds true: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” What is the first step you need to take?
In the upcoming months, we will examine more closely what it means to be an fruitful cell member, leader, coach, pastor, and church planter, dedicating one month of blogs to each of these steps/ministries. But for the month of June, let’s look at the general principle of taking the next step. If you’d like to receive these blogs daily in your email inbox, press here. We’ll examine:
- Week 1 (June 03-09) The general principle of growing in faith by taking the next step. There are different levels of discipleship but unless the person takes the next step, they won’t grow in Christ.
- Week 2 (June 10-16): Some people want to run fast, but they have failed to succeed in the past. I think of the runner who wanted to give the news to David when fighting Absalom. He wanted to run but didn’t have the knowledge/message. He wasn’t fully prepared. To gain the knowledge, people need to be willing to first be in a cell, go through the equipping, become part of a team, and so forth. This is true of developing leaders, coaches, pastors, and church planters. They have succeed in whatever step they are currently on to then move on to the next one.
- Week 3 (June 17-23): The importance of encouragement. For people to take the next step, church leadership needs to create an atmosphere of encouragement. Trying and failing is not the problem; it’s failure to even try. It’s best to give a person lots of encouragement before offering any critiques. People won’t step out unless they’re affirmed.
- Week 4 (June 24-30): Clarifying the next step. Many churches are fuzzy and don’t clearly define the next step. The best cell churches have a clear path for future ministry and leadership. We’ll take a look at those steps during this week of blogging.
What is the next step that you need to take? Share your experiences here.
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