Towards the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there’s a scene where Indy must complete a series of challenges to save his dad’s life. One of those challenges was called The Path of God. Indy stood at the sculpture of a lion’s head at a ledge that drops into a large canyon. His instructions were, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” It was, of course, impossible to jump across the canyon, so Indy came to the conclusion that it must be a “leap of faith” that was needed. Closing his eyes, he took one step off the ledge and found himself on a bridge that was camouflaged to look like the depth of the canyon. He then walked across safely.
The idea was to trust God and to believe that He will provide a path even if it can’t be seen. Taking a step of faith isn’t usually that dramatic — it is a climactic scene in an action/adventure film, after all! In fact, it’s often not dramatic at all.
What a step of faith is not
In an article for the MissionHub blog, J.B. Tanwell explains three things that steps of faith are not.
A step of faith is not a display of courage. When we think of taking a step of faith, we often think of something as dramatic as what Indiana Jones went through, where he had to be courageous enough to step off a cliff despite his fear of plunging down a canyon to his death. I can prove my faith by traveling to a country ravaged by a civil war and proclaiming the Gospel while trying not to get shot! On a lesser scale, it’s not about trying to impress people by showing you’re brave enough to tell anyone anywhere about Jesus. In fact, it’s not really about you at all.
A step of faith is not a test of spiritual fitness. Don’t measure your faith or devotion to God by actions to check off a list. This isn’t your Fitbit. “Am I reading enough Scripture? How much money am I giving? Do I devote enough to prayer each day? These are all good disciplines to develop, but Jesus himself was very suspicious of the underlying motives of people who treated these as tests of their spiritual fitness,” Tanwell writes.
A step of faith doesn’t have to be extreme. “You may know someone who shared the Gospel with a hardcore atheist last week. Is that a greater step of faith than your decision to invite someone over for coffee? No, because this is not a competition,” writes Tanwell.
What a step of faith is
You took the biggest step of faith of all when you became a Christian, when you took the step of believing that Jesus is the Lord and trusted Him for your salvation. After you take that big step of faith, you will have many chances to take other steps of faith.
At its core, a step of faith is a chance to trust God. It could be inviting a friend for coffee, praying for a family member, or sharing the Gospel with someone. It could be being intentional about what you post on social media. Whatever the step is, trust that God has a plan and that you are part of it, and remember that it’s not up to you. You can’t change anyone’s heart; only God can.
A step of faith is about walking with God. Sometimes you’ll see the fruit of those faith steps; other times you won’t. Sometimes you’ll feel close to God and like you are doing exactly what He wants you to do, while other times you might feel lost. The important thing is to keep taking steps and trusting God for the outcomes of those steps.
“What surprises me about following Jesus is that I have never taken a true step of faith that I later regretted,” Tanwell writes. “Some conversations that I initiated about Jesus felt frustrating. Some people misunderstood my intentions in asking them what they believed. But I never felt like God invited me to jump without also being there to catch me. Every time I trusted God with something or someone who really mattered to me, I felt closer to Him afterward.”
How to take a step of faith
Some of us don’t have a problem understanding what a step of faith is, but figuring out what steps to take is difficult. What can I do for God that will make a difference? What is the next right thing for me to do?
The MissionHub app was designed to help you take steps of faith as you walk with God on your own spiritual journey and join others on theirs. MissionHub suggests appropriate steps of faith based on where you are on your journey as well as based on the faith journey of the person you want to reach.
Do you have a friend who is spiritually curious? MissionHub might suggest asking your friend about her religious background or sharing your fears and anxieties with her as a way of building trust. Not sure of where a friend is on his spiritual journey? MissionHub might suggest asking him what gives meaning and purpose to his life.
When it comes to evangelism, we tend to think of faith steps as that big moment when we share the Gospel and ask if they want to pray to receive Christ. That is certainly a great step and an important one, but it’s not always the appropriate one. Sometimes your friend isn’t ready for that step yet. Sometimes you’re not ready yet. Every step of faith matters, no matter how small. Every conversation, every action, every social media post matters.
There are many different faith steps in MissionHub, but they are broken into four categories:
- Relate: Ideas to help you deepen the relationship and build trust.
- Pray: Ways to invite God into your relationship with this person.
- Care: Ideas to help you demonstrate that you care about this person.
- Share: Talk about what this person believes and ways you can help them know God.
The appropriate step of faith to take with a friend may simply be to relate to that person. Get to know her better. Ask her questions and listen intently, listen actively, listen like what she’s saying is important. People aren’t used to really being listened to in that way so it should make an impression. By listening, you will also learn more about your friend and will know what other steps to take with her.
Tyler Ellis gave a TEDx talk about a listening experiment he conducted on a college campus. Over a two-year period, he interviewed 50 people, asking them questions about their beliefs without giving his own input. Half of those he interviewed wanted to meet up with him again to continue talking, with many wanting to hear what he believes.
“When we invite someone to share their experiences and beliefs, and we listen with genuine interest, we circumnavigate the wall of defenses,” Tyler says.
Building a solid relationship with your friend can be an important step of faith. People are more open to discussing faith with people with whom they have a strong relationship. There must be a lot of trust for such a vulnerable conversation.
Tyler used to hold meetings on campus where students could come to eat pizza, play games, and just get to know each other. Nothing intimidating. Jeff, a “fourth-generation atheist,” was invited by his roommate, Kevin, and decided to come because he liked pizza and poker.
When Jeff heard about Tyler’s listening experiment, he agreed to be interviewed so he could share about his beliefs as an atheist. After the interview, Jeff said he’d like to continue meeting with Tyler to discuss their different beliefs. Over two years, they met every week. By the time Jeff graduated, he had come to believe that some sort of god must exist, but he wasn’t sure it was the god of the Bible. But due to their strong relationship and their open sharing, a foundation had been built. Years later, Jeff sent Tyler a text saying he was ready to put his faith in Jesus. “I couldn’t believe it! I was running around the house yelling and dancing and laughing and crying,” Tyler says. Tyler and Kevin then met up with Jeff, prayed together, and Jeff was baptized.
To recap, here are some of the faith steps involved in Jeff coming to know Jesus:
- Tyler held meetings on campus
- Kevin invited him to a meeting
- Tyler talked to Jeff about his listening experiment
- Tyler asked Jeff if he would like to be interviewed
- Tyler interviewed Jeff and listened to what he had to say
- Tyler continued to meet with Jeff to discuss their beliefs
- Tyler and Kevin prayed with Jeff
- Kevin baptized Jeff
And that’s just what we know. I imagine Tyler was also praying for Jeff and I don’t know what steps of faith were taken with Jeff between when he graduated and when he came to faith. But the point is that there were many steps and they were all important, even if they seemed insignificant at the time. It’s also worth noting that it took faith steps from at least two people to reach Jeff, but probably more than that.
One of the most important things you can do is pray for or with someone. There is only so much you can do, only so much you can control. So raise prayer requests to our omnipotent God. Pray for God to work in the heart of your friend. Pray that He will provide opportunities to take steps of faith with her. When you do take a step of faith, lift that step up in prayer. If you don’t know of specific ways to pray for your friend, ask her. Even most atheists are willing to let you pray for them, and asking for prayer requests helps build that relationship.
During an Indigitous webinar last year, ACTS Group Executive Director Jeff Kreiser shared about how his family made a point of being good neighbors to the widow of Hindu faith next door. “She needs help in terms of her life, in terms of the garbage cans and different kinds of things,” Jeff says. His family makes an effort to help the woman take care of the various tasks she might otherwise struggle to handle alone. “We’re trying to show that we’re the kind of people who serve and give and love in the name of Jesus even as those faith conversations continue.”
Most people don’t care what you have to say until they know that you care about them. Of course, Jesus did this as well. During His earthly ministry, He not only gave sermons and told people about the Good News, but He also met people’s needs by healing people’s illnesses and feeding the hungry
If there is someone in your life who you want to know Jesus, think and pray about how you can pray for that person. MissionHub can help with suggestions as well. It could be something as simple as giving a compliment. It could be manual labor like helping with yard work, bringing them a meal, or picking up the kids from soccer practice. It could be quick texts or messages on social media to let her know you’re thinking about her. Whatever it is, this is a person whom God loves and by caring for her, you are able to demonstrate that love and build a foundation for explaining how she’s loved by God.
The most obvious step of faith you can take is sharing the Gospel. It’s what most people think about when they think about taking faith steps. This is really a form of caring as well, though. If you care for your friend, you want him to have a relationship with God. You want him to be able to experience the gift that you have, and of course, you want him to be saved.
Though you might be nervous, this part doesn’t have to be awkward. If you’ve taken the time to relate to your friend, pray for and with your friend, and care for your friend, there should come a time when it feels natural to share about your relationship with Christ. If you aren’t sure how to have that conversation, the GodTools app has a number of Gospel presentations as well as a tool that actually trains you how to have such conversations.
As you’re sharing, remember that the pressure isn’t on you. Your friend may accept Christ at that time. He may not. It might happen many years later, as with Jeff. But all of that is beyond your control. When you share, your job is to take the step of faith and share about Jesus; the results are up to God.
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Download MissionHub. Think and pray about who God is calling you to reach.
- Save some faith steps on MissionHub.
- During the week, take at least one step of faith.
- Let us know how it went!