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Next Steps

Every single person in their walk of faith should be taking steps. One of the reasons it is called a walk is because we are doing just that. Some of the steps are easily applied to everyone while others are much more individual. At Open Door, we have identified ten “Next Steps” that all of us need to take.

Salvation

Salvation is a single step. For eternal purposes, it is the most important step of faith that you can take. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8;2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12;3:16;5:24;Acts 16:31).

Receiving by grace through faith is what distinguishes Christ followers from all other religions of the earth. There are no steps to salvation. No good works or processes to get you there. No external approvals from people or committees. It is the free gift of God.

Baptism

Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission to make disciples and baptize them. Water baptism is an outward expression of an inward commitment.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a first step of obedience after you receive Christ as Savior and Lord. Baptism is a symbol representing your new commitment to Jesus Christ.

We believe it is a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. Colossians 2:12, “For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ.”

We also believe it is a symbol of our new life in Christ. In Romans 6:4 it says, “By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead so also we may live a new life!” Based on our understanding of these passages, we baptize by immersion at Open Door. All believers are encouraged to take this public “Next Step”.

Prayer

In every relationship, there are a variety of methods of communication. The same is true for your relationship with God. As you come to learn more about God and His delight in you, your prayer may be guided by examples from the Bible like the Lord’s Prayer or as simple as reviewing the day’s events with Him. Prayer is just talking to God, communication between you and your heavenly Father. Whether written or spoken, shouted or whispered, individual or corporate, prayer is your connection to God.

We are encouraged to seek the Lord in prayer (Matthew 7:7-12), no matter how small or great the need is.

There will be times you will feel like kneeling before His presence as you pray and times when your most authentic communication with God will be as you drive. You can take time alone to pray through a section of Scripture or spontaneously thank Him for the beauty of the day. Prayer does not have to be formal or informal, kneeling, standing, or lying before Him. As you will discover, prayer reflects your concerns, your gratitude, your challenges. It reflects you and your desire for God to provide you with the strength and wisdom to live a life that pleases Him.

God created you as you are and He wants to spend time communicating with you. Prayer is how you ask Him for guidance in difficult circumstances. As you open your Bible each day, ask Jesus to open your eyes and heart to see and hear what His Spirit is saying to you.

Study

The Word of God (the Bible) is where faith comes from (Romans 10:17) and endures forever (Matthew 24:35).

The Bible is often compared to an owner’s manual in many ways and the analogy is an appropriate one. Within the pages of the Bible, you will discover not only God’s plan for you and for the world, but also tangible and practical steps to experiencing the abundant life He promises in the Bible. Inspired by God and written over an extended period by various authors, the Bible is a remarkably consistent account of relationship — our relationship with God and with each other.

Bible study methods are as varied as the people who adopt them. Some choose a reading plan that provides them with guidelines to read a portion (New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs) or the complete Bible in a specific amount of time. Others will benefit from a daily devotional. However and whenever you read and study the Word of God, the essential element is that you are daily measuring yourself against its wisdom while catching a glimpse of the extravagance of God’s love for you. Remember that His Spirit will both reveal the verses’ meanings and empower you to live in a way that blesses you and pleases Him.

Giving

God designed the local church to be able to function and do ministry based on the generosity of believers. As you read the Book of Acts, it is clear that the survival and growth of the church was more important to people than their own comfort. Even in the Old Testament, the temples were built and the ministry was performed as people gave to God.

For many people, giving can be a huge next step. At Open Door, we believe there are two types of financial giving that people do. The first is tithing. Tithing is giving a set percentage of your income. The word tithe itself means 10%. We believe that both the New Testament and Old Testament support the practice of tithing. Tithing is returning 10% to God through giving to the church. Another part of giving is “offerings”. Offerings are giving above and beyond the tithe. This may be to special missions projects, our annual “Fit For A King” offering, building projects, etc.

God’s plan is for the message of Jesus to be spread and the local church supported through the sacrificial giving of believers. Consider taking this next step in your discipleship journey.

Membership

The church – the Church of Jesus Christ – is comprised of all believers worldwide. The local church is comprised of believers in Christ who have joined together for the cause of Christ. Your local church plays a significant role in your spiritual life. In most cases, the local church is the primary source of Bible teaching, worship, discipleship, accountability, admonishment, encouragement, and fellowship.

There is no mandate for local church membership in the Bible, nor is it excluded. Church membership is a way of officially identifying oneself with a local body of believers. Church membership is a statement that a Christian is in agreement with that local church and is willing to be identified as a representative of it. Church membership is also valuable for organizational purposes and a good way of determining who is allowed to vote on important church decisions and/or who is involved in official church positions and functions. Church membership is not required of Christians. It is simply a way of saying, “I am a Christian and I believe Open Door Church is a good church.”

Life Groups

We read in Acts that as the early church exploded with growth, there were two types of gatherings among believers: in the temple and in homes. The temple could accommodate large gatherings of people much like a worship service can today. But the gatherings in homes were much more intimate and just as critical. Both gatherings are still vitally important to the church today. We believe the local church should get larger and smaller at the same time.

Life Groups offer us an opportunity to meet in smaller settings that allows for more personal and intimate friendships; an easier understanding of discipleship; care for and prayer for one another’s needs; an atmosphere of accountability and encouragement; as well as a place to live out what we hear in our Sunday worship gatherings. Life groups give you an opportunity to ask questions and work out answers to issues each of us are dealing with. When we worship together both in large settings such as Sunday morning and smaller, Life Group settings, we live out what God intended for the church to look like and we grow more quickly in our relationship with Christ.

Serving

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus clearly states his role and intent here on this earth was to serve: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. In one of the last lessons that He would teach the disciples prior to His crucifixion Jesus taught to serve others as He washed their feet. His desire for us today is to love others and to show that love by serving them.

At Open Door, one of our core values is serving people. There are two avenues to serve people: 1) serve on a team doing ministry inside the church, usually for our Sunday celebrations, or 2) serve on a team or individually that helps people in our community that may have no relationship to our church. Both of these are important and significant to the ministry of the church. We truly believe that we should be “Leading the world to God through service”.

Leading

John Maxwell says that leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less. To some extent, each of us has a circle of influence. As believers it is critical that we understand that all of us are leaders and we should leverage that for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. For many people, part of that is taking a more defined or designated role of leadership.

True leaders are servants first. Romans 12:8 tells us that there is a spiritual gift of leadership. It is sandwiched between the gifts of giving and mercy. Both of those are required to be a good leader. One of the next steps you may take is to enter into a formal role of leadership. These things may include taking more responsibility in a ministry area that you are already involved in or beginning a new ministry based on something that God is speaking into your heart. It could also include serving as a ministry leader, a deacon, elder or possibly even vocational ministry.

John Maxwell also says that everything rises and falls on leadership. If that is the case, the long term viability of the local church and the expansion of God’s Kingdom is dependant on good leadership. Do not allow fear to stop you from being the leader God designed you to be.

 Sharing Your Faith

One of the main reasons we remain on this earth after we have decided to follow Christ is so that we can be witnesses to others about Christ. Jesus chose to leave His legacy and the responsibility to tell others about Him in the hands of flawed people: us, His followers. The truth is, all of us are flawed. As Jesus sat on the sea shore with Peter following the resurrection, He looked at Peter and told Him to feed the sheep. Just a few days prior Peter denied he had even known Jesus. Jesus told all of the disciples that they would be empowered to be witnesses. At the crucifixion, they had all deserted Him.

It is one of the most important Next Steps, but often the most difficult and for many, one they never take. You do not need to be a Bible scholar or a pastor or have attended seminary to tell others about Jesus. What you need to do is tell your own story. The story of your own brokenness and the grace, mercy and healing that you have personally experienced. He commissioned us in Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Share your faith today!