the weblog of Alan Knox

The Next Step

Posted by on Nov 15, 2010 in church life, community, discipleship, edification, fellowship, gathering | 8 comments

The Next Step

As some of my readers know (and some may not know), when our church meets together, the teaching is a little different than the teaching (preaching?) when most churches meet. What do I mean? Well, typically, our teaching is in the form of a discussion.

Generally, we have an agreed up subject or passage of Scripture. Someone agrees to teach that subject or passage. What that means is that that person facilitates a discussion concerning the subject or passage. The amount of lecture combined with discussion/dialog depends on who is teaching / facilitating our teaching time.

Since more than one person is speaking, the teaching can get very specific. Someone may ask a specific question that affects what the person is facing in life. Another person may make a completely different comment, but just as specific and just as personal to that person or to someone else.

The last time we met as a church, we met around tables. When we do this, along with the teaching I described above, the person leading our teaching also gives us a question or topic to discuss around each table (with 6-10 people at each table). In this way, even more people take part in the teaching, and even more specific and personal questions or applications or problems or comments are considered.

This type of teaching is much more direct and more personal and (I think) more discipling than any other that I’ve ever experienced. But, there may still be something missing. Let me try to explain.

Margaret, my wife, and I were talking about the teaching and our time together. Later, we also talked with another couple who are our close friends. We all agreed that something is missing, and that’s the next step. The next step would be for the teaching to move beyond words and concepts into action.

Let me give you an example. Suppose, for instance, that we’re talking about reaching out to our neighbors, coworkers, family, etc. with the gospel. As we talk about this subject, several people may offer specific examples of opportunities that they’ve had to share the gospel with others. Others, then, would probably share that they know that they need to share the gospel (and they may even have someone specific in mind), but they struggle with doing that. We would probably encourage that person, and even pray for him or her right then.

But, what about the next step? What needs to happen next? Well, someone needs to come alongside that person and help him or her to share the gospel with the other person that God has brought to mind. And, that could happen right away.

Imagine, we’re sitting together as the church (either around tables or in a circle), and someone expresses a struggle with sharing the gospel with a neighbor. We encourage the person and pray for him or her. Then – the next step – someone offers to go with that brother or sister (perhaps at that very moment) to share the gospel with the neighbor. Or, perhaps someone else offers to take the struggling brother or sister along on a trip to the food pantry when the gospel is often shared.

There are so many possibilities, but it means taking the next step – the step away from concept and toward action.

I think this is an important step for us (and any church and all believers) to take. Why? Because discipleship (becoming more mature in Jesus Christ) is not only about concepts. Instead, it’s also about obediently following Jesus Christ throughout our lives.

Have you ever been part of a church meeting when people took the next step, and actually acted to help a brother or sister right away (it doesn’t have to be with evangelism, it could be with anything)? What do you think?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-15-2010

    This next step can be done easily, it is really just a mutual responsibility step or accountability step.

    I’ll talk about the end of the assembling then the beginning.

    After the discussion time on the passage of scripture, have everyone come up with a few “I will… ” statements. Each person will express a specific and measurable action to do (or stop doing) in response to the passage.

    The group can then decide if, as a group, they want to implement a “We will… together.” statement.

    Also, make a review of the prayer needs at the beginning of the service and have a discussion of what you can do to be an answer to that prayer.

    Finally, ask each person to name someone they know that needs to hear or know the scripture you learned together. Ask them to seek out those people in the week to share.

    This sets the place holder for ministry (service) and evangelism (sharing God’s story)

    Next meeting before the discussion time. Ask people to relate what they did in response to the message. Recall together what each person said they would do, and ask each person to share. Recall the names of the people that needed to hear and ask for the groups to share what happened when they related God’s word to others.

    This is a strong dynamic for moving from passive learning to active obedience. There is a warning though, people who do not do their “I will…” statements, and who do not share with others, will slowly drop out of attendance. It is kind of a self-selecting process. This does naturally purify the church, though.

    The big benefit is that the great majority of members will become active in a way they haven’t been before because of the mutual responsibility of obedience.

  2. 11-15-2010

    Thanks for the post. It’s hard to believe that just as I think I’ve broken away from tradition to biblical truth the Lord uses someone like you or Dr. Black to show me that I still have a long journey ahead. I see the importance of what you’ve shared. What’s the typical ratio of instruction/facilitation/discussion at your church?

  3. 11-15-2010


    For some time, we have (individually and occasionally corporately) returned to a previous week’s passage/topic to discuss if (or how) someone may have implemented it. My hope is that our turn to action becomes much more spontaneous and immediate.


    It depends upon who is teaching. Some people prefer to lecture, while others prefer to initiate more discussion. However, there is always some amount of discussion involved, and there is always someone to lead/facilitate that discussion (who typically speaks more than others). (I’m not saying this is the way teaching must happen; but, this is the way that has worked well for us in our context.)


  4. 11-15-2010


    “Then – the next step – someone offers to go with that brother or sister (perhaps at that very moment) to share the gospel with the neighbor. Or, perhaps someone else offers to take the struggling brother or sister along on a trip to the food pantry when the gospel is often shared.”

    That is a large, and essential, part of what I would call discipling. Without that we are certainly not making disciples, who can make disciples.

  5. 11-15-2010

    I don’t understand how spontaneous and immediate is any further up the path than consistent and regular.

    Maybe I misunderstood something.

  6. 11-16-2010

    Two examples that come to mind. Well, I’ll preface them by saying that our family is memorizing James this year and I’ve been struck as we’re in the trenches of all these “be doers not just hearers” verses by the irony of the words becoming “rote”. My kids have shown me (without knowing it) that the Holy Spirit takes care of turning hearing into doing when I get past my flesh.

    1) I have felt led for a long time to take our kids (5, ages 10 to 6) and visit eldery people who might be lonely or sad. I kept making excuses or would just forget and move it to the bottom of my “list”. I finally told the kids we were going to visit a nursing home each week in the area. This was a bold move right there, because I know from experience that once I say something out loud, they don’t LET me forget. So I called a local home to make sure it was ok, and they left a message with the activities director. She never called. The kids never let up — “did you call her again?” “When are we going?” “Let’s drive around til we find another one!”. Long, amazing story, short, we go each Friday after lunch and have already developed relationships with several, faces light up when they see the kids, and my children have humbled me with their “doing” of the word.

    2) At a recent fellowship gathering (in a home), updates to life issues were being shared after the discussion time, and one couple was facing terrible timing and stress with house sale/baby due/job search/etc. Only the wife had come; the hubsand had decided to stay home and try to pack some more. One of the men immediately said, “as soon as we’re done praying, I’d like to take a carload of men over to him and we’ll see how we can help/encourage him.” And they did.

  7. 11-16-2010

    Aussie John,

    So, if we are not helping each other live out these principles, then we are not discipling one another, regardless of what we’re saying when we meet. Is that what you’re saying?


    I suppose “consistent and regular” could be the same as “spontaneous and immediate.” I was thinking of something like Heather’s #2 above.


    Our family and church has been practicing your example #1 for some time. I hope we can get to your example #2.


  8. 11-16-2010




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