When it comes to discipleship, people need more than abstract concepts; they need sequential steps.
One of the things I think we do poorly in ministry contexts is motivating people to change without giving them clear steps to improve. Sure we provide many options for maintaining activity within our programs, but are they sure how they need to go forward to make progress?
Jesus ministered to all people, but he provided specific instructions. The Gospel authors often shared unique and precise instructions tailored to each situation. You can easily see this dynamic in the openings pages in the Gospel of Mark.
- Jesus told a group of disciples exactly what to leave behind and start doing (Mark 1:17-18).
- He clarified the next city of ministry for them and didn’t give into others’ expectations (Mark 1:38).
- He instructed the leper to perform the biblical expectations after he healed him (Mark 1:44).
- Mark records in chapter 2 direct instructions to the paralytic and the tax collector.
- And it goes on after that.
Think about the leper for a moment. Jesus told him to apply the truths of Scripture. He was to obey after he was redeemed. But it was specific. I imagine after years of quarantine, he probably had a long list of what he wanted to do, but Jesus gave him a particular set of steps of what he needed to do.
I point this out to you because I think people are longing for precise instructions. Instead of abstract concepts, they need sequential steps. We can clarify what they need to do next by evaluating where people are.
If you listen to our announcements in church, there are numerous steps people can take. There are so many options. Sometimes, amid our opportunities, people can lose the clear path they need to travel.
As you minister to people, evaluate where they are, and help them clarify the preferred destination, and provide a clear next step to start down that route. Whether a sermon, conversation, counseling session, teaching lesson, etc., offer sequential steps to people. They know they need to change, but they might require you to spell it out for them. Let each of us evaluate the message we communicate and ensure that people know what to do next.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.