Answering the question “what are my next steps in following Jesus” is unique to every individual follower of Jesus. But there are specific steps you can take. The famous command from Jesus about what it means to become his disciples offers three categories of steps that we should look to as we answer the question. The New Living Translation render’s Jesus words in Matthew 16:24 this way:
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”
Other translations follow similar phrase patterns.
Another way to describe these steps would be like this:
- Seek God
- Step Out in Faith
Now, the problem with phrases as simple as these is that we can leave them in the abstract instead of acting on them. And then we’re in danger of paying lip service to a so-called-belief in words with meanings that shift based on our preferences and, worse, a spiritual life with little fruit, if any. But when we act on these ideas practically, we join with Jesus in cultivating vibrant faith! And not just in ourselves, but in others as well.
Jesus commanded his first disciples to “make disciples” and “preach the good news” and “be my witnesses.” And the context of his commands includes a worldwide mandate. Even so, the Early Church initially struggled with taking those next steps and sharing their faith throughout the world. But it wasn’t long before they figured it out. And so, we can all give each other a little grace as some of us discover this global mandate for the first time, and the rest of us recognize that maybe we’ve made our latest “next steps with Jesus” a little more self-centered or too locally-minded.
For more than 75 years, WorldVenture has had the honor of helping people take their next steps in following Jesus. And in that spirit, we offer some ideas for your next steps with Jesus using the Matthew 16:24 framework and even breaking them down into different levels of commitment: baby steps, short walk, and big leap!
1. Seek God – Seeking God requires prayer. WorldVenture was founded in prayer by faithful followers of Jesus who were–you guessed it–seeking God for their next steps of obedience. We know there are no successful next steps without prayer. So, why not try:
- Baby Steps – Go visit our Prayer Wall at worldventure.com/pray. You can leave a prayer request and pray for a few of the requests currently posted. You can even click the corresponding “I Prayed…” button for any particular request to encourage the person who wrote it that someone joined them in prayer.
- Short Walk – Download our latest free prayer guide to help you focus your prayers in a specific way for a particular time period. One option is to pray for Muslims in your neighborhood and around the world. Ramadan starts April 12, 2021, and that’s a great time to join with many other believers in praying for Muslims.
- Big Leap – Sign up for “Deepening Our Prayer Life,” a special training event to cultivate a richer, more vibrant prayer life. Led by our Director of Global Prayer Initiatives, this special event is happening on Saturday, April 17 and space is limited.
2. Sacrifice – Sacrifice means giving up things of value as gifts to God. It’s often the sacrifices we make that God uses to make it possible for others to take their next steps. And as it was for God’s people in the Bible, financial contributions are one of the major forms of sacrifice we can make as Christ-followers. Here are three ideas:
- Baby Steps – Make a one-time gift using our new and improved “Quick Online Gift” platform to one of WorldVenture’s many projects throughout the world. And if you’re struggling to choose one, you can give to the Global Mission Fund which supports every missionary and project in some way.
- Short Walk – Make an incremental increase in your commitment to a missionary you currently support. They’ll be grateful for your sacrifice.
- Big Leap – WorldVenture has some God-sized goals for reaching hundreds of the remaining Unreached People Groups (UPGs) and hundreds of thousands of people with the good news. Big sacrifices can make big impacts. Two of our funds that are instrumental to our goals are the Global Mission Fund and the Appointee Launch Fund.
3. Stepping Out in Faith – Many “next steps” in following Jesus are partly metaphorical. But some “next steps” are more literal than you might think. In any case, they involve taking a risk, often with implications for our relationships, because they move us from where others expect us to be to somewhere they weren’t expecting to find us. Often, it is we ourselves who are most surprised by how and where God moves us. Consider these steps:
- Baby Steps – Get on our social media or read our blog. Then share or forward an update or posting you find interesting to one or more of your friends and/or family online. Tell them why you found it interesting, why missions is important to you and invite them to look into WorldVenture for themselves. God may use you to help them make their next step in following Jesus.
- Short Walk – Ask God to put someone on your heart that might be a good fit for missions work and would benefit from taking their next steps with WorldVenture. You can even see some of the roles missionaries around the world are trying to fill on their teams. Then, invite them to fill out WorldVenture’s GO Form to request a brief consultation with one of our mobilizers. Most of the missionaries that WorldVenture has sent throughout the world learned about WorldVenture from a family member (including “church family!”) or a friend. Your encouragement might be the last bit of confirmation someone needs to hear to take that big leap into life-long missions service.
- Big Leap – Look, it could be you that God wants to send in-person to the unreached. Maybe you should be the one filling out the GO Form for yourself?
Whether you take baby steps, go for short walks, or make big leaps (or, more likely, a combination of some from all three), ask God “what are my next steps in following Jesus” and get started. Seeking God, Sacrificing, and Stepping Out in Faith are key to following Jesus. And as we’ve done for more than three-quarters of a century, we’d be honored to help you better follow Jesus as we go and make disciples of all nations, engaging the world for gospel impact. Because it is going to take multitudes of disciples compelled by the love of God and willing to risk all so that people are transformed by God. And every single one needs to start by taking their next steps with Jesus.