Stages of Faith: Stage Two

Come and Follow Me

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).

This is Jesus’ second invitation to His disciples and marks the second stage of faith: Come and Follow Me. This stage begins when a person steps beyond just learning about Christianity (“Come and See”) and decides to follow Christ.

During this stage, people are learning to read Scripture and pray. They also begin worshiping and often serving in a Christian community. Unfortunately, too many get stuck here, focusing on the actions and the head knowledge of Christianity while becoming stagnant in their intimacy with Christ. They read their Bibles and say their prayers but have no sense of interacting with someone who desires a deep relationship with them. Everyone experiences this from time to time, but the danger for the people in Stage 2 is settling into thinking that this is as good as it gets.

The REVEAL surveys show that of all the stages, Stage 2 has the largest number of people. In some churches, people in Stage 2 make up to 50% of the congregation. And some of those people have remained in that stage for decades. They may actually fear intimacy with Christ because it means giving up control. When Christianity becomes more than church activities and God begins to speak, the believer can no longer control their spiritual walk. But that’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

This is the point at which people must move from being Marthas to becoming Marys. It is harder to sit still and simply be with Christ than it is to do things for Christ.

One crucial way church leaders can help move people from “Come and Follow Me” to “Come and Be with Me” is through small groups. Small groups get people more comfortable with the relational aspect of their faith. In this context, believers hear each others’ stories of intimate encounters with God and become personally challenged in their walks with Him.

The depth of the small group depends largely on the authenticity of the leader. If the small group leader isn’t authentic, neither will be group be. If, however, the leader has the courage to be vulnerable, he or she will create a safe place for others to open up as well. Honesty is quite often contagious.

Ministries that deal with addictions can also help move people past whatever blockage is hindering them from intimacy. These addictions may not be to drugs and alcohol; they could be addictions to anger, passivity, or control. Most people have a habitual sin that must be broken before they can experience new depths of intimacy with Christ.

If you’re a group leader, don’t focus on making people hear you; focus on helping them hear God. If your people don’t appreciate your teaching but begin to recognize God’s guidance, you are succeeding. Believers who have taken the initial step of following Jesus often have no idea where God will take them and what they will experience on their journey of faith. So just as Eli did with the young Samuel, teach them to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:9). And then get them excited for what could happen next.

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