First Steps is foundational follow up material to help ground new Christians in their faith, and to take their first steps in their relationship with God. Our desire is to ground new Christians in their identity in Christ and help equip them to share their faith with others.
The First Steps materials are designed to be relevant to the way most people learn:
- Connecting with others
- Discussing and sharing together around a key topic
- Considering their own life stories
- Identifying personal application
The aim of each session is to have a directed conversation around a key passage of Scripture. Your role as a leader is to guide the group in discovering truth together, you don’t need to be a teacher or a biblical scholar.
A good rule of thumb in this setting is to have the new Christians speaking 70% of the time and you about 30%. Your role as a leader is to allow the Holy Spirit to help them discover what the passage is teaching.
Each session has it’s own leader's notes which will give more detailed information to help you guide the conversation, cover key points and help the group to explore the main passage for that session. If there is a lot of discussion in some areas or the group needs more time to explore a particular concept, it’s ok to break the session into two parts and do it over two weeks.
The Framework for First Steps uses an approach known as Three Thirds. These three sections are ‘Look Back’, ‘Look Up’, ‘Look Forward’. These form the basic structure of each session and make it easy to remember and explain to others.
This is where the group spend time connecting, catching up and sharing how things have gone since the previous meeting. Group members get to show care for others and learn what it means to be accountable. It’s important to make sure everyone in the group is given a chance to share.
You may choose to have the group pray for each other after sharing, or you could write down what people share and pray together later. At first people might feel uncomfortable praying together but encourage people to have a go and as time goes on make sure it’s not just you praying. As people share, if there are ways the group can help with needs that arise, let people offer to do so. Do not do everything for the group members – let other group members step up and show tangible concern for their co-members and community. Some helpful questions for this stage are:
- What’s been going on for you since we last met?
- Is there anything you would like prayer for?
- Is there anything going on for you that we could help you with?
- What needs have you noticed in our community, in your family or amongst your friends recently? Is there something you/we could do to help with in that area?
- How did you go with the application from our last session?
- Who did you share with about what you learned in our last session?
- Were you able to help with any needs you had noticed and shared in our last session?
Look Up is looking to God and His Word. You’ll look at a passage of Scripture or review core concepts together and explore what it says and means. Begin by explaining the key purpose of the session, which can be found at the beginning of that session’s leader's notes. You’ll also need to read through the Scripture passage a couple of times. The first time is so people can hear it and have a chance to clarify any unknown words and the second time is to help reinforce what has been heard. It can be helpful the second time through for people to simply ‘listen’.
To help new Christians learn how to study the Bible on their own, we are trying to get them to ask a general set of questions of the passage. Some of these questions are:
- Was anything difficult to understand?
- Is there anything in this passage that is meaningful to you?
- What does today’s passage tell us about God? About people? About God’s relationship with us?
- How do you think this passage relates to the topical question at the start?
- Do you have any other questions or comments about this passage?
- How would you summarise what we have learned today?
Look Forward is the part of the session where the group clarify application points from the passage. They are also given the chance to think about with whom they can share what they are learning. Application points should hopefully flow naturally from the Look Up section as people have engaged with the key passage and discussed observations, answered questions and shared their own thoughts/ideas. We want to end strongly as the application part of the session is what will help truly ground a new believer in the truths of their new faith. The application should be simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). It should be clear enough that when the group meets again you can ask if they were able to do what they said they would do. Here are a few ways you can help people to identify Application points for themselves:
- Using an ‘I will’ statement. At the end of each session asking everyone to share an ‘I will statement ’, ie
- ‘I will thank God daily for the assurance I have of His Salvation’,
- ‘I will ask God each day to show me what need I can meet in the life of a loved one/friend’.
- Write down a lesson learned from today’s session.
- Identify who they will share with about what has been learnt today.
Closing out the session
At the conclusion, summarise the lesson. Then end in prayer for one another, that they would apply what they have learned, and be able to share the story with someone else. Set the time and place for the next meeting, and remind them to feel free to invite others to join the group.