Imagine meeting weekly for 3 – 4 months over coffee or tea with someone who is eager to discover what a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. Conversations focus on understanding the Bible, salvation, the Holy Spirit and resurrection, righteousness and justification, peace with God and the peace of God, the realm of grace, freedom from punishment and the freedom in discipline. They are true conversations, not lectures. You have a guidebook, your “Traveler” gets a Traveler’s Notebook. We have often found that the Traveler has not really begun the journey. He or she has never surrendered to Jesus, and we can help them understand better what salvation is, and commit to Jesus.
The Bible describes the beginning of new life as a transition from death to life. Paul writes, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. . . and raised us up with. . . Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6) When a person surrenders his or her life to God, he or she is reborn. Life is renewed – all of life – and everything is changed. We start a new journey and since everything is new, we try to make sense of life from the perspectives of our old life paradigms. To start well – and finish well, we need a Journey Guide.
You have been walking The Journey, committed to Jesus Christ long enough to be a Journey Guide for someone just starting The Journey. If not, you are a “New Traveler,” and need a Journey Guide. A Journey Guide is a more experienced, (same gender) fellow traveler. Imagine walking someone into God’s Kingdom, introducing him or her new life! People respond to the Good News at several different levels. A few in America have been searching for God for a long time, and they finally hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. They realize Jesus is who they have been looking for and surrender their whole life to him, wholeheartedly. Many more people are more focused on finding peace or recovery or release from depression or an answer to anxiety. They hear the Gospel and expect that if they accept salvation they will experience immediate relief. When relief doesn’t come or doesn’t stay more than a few days, they are confused. Others begin attending a church or go to a “crusade” at the invitation of a friend or relative and sense that to really belong, they need to respond to the invitation to begin a relationship with God. Others, especially young people, respond to God because their friends have responded. They may have established a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, or they may be a “spiritual miscarriage.” Only God knows all who have been born again, who have Renewed Life.
If you have never been a Renewed Life Journey Guide it may be because in our churches when someone enters The Kingdom he or she may be given a follow-up CD or encouraged to get into a “New Member’s Class.” Many new travelers are just challenged to attend church regularly. We can do better! One of the questions asked by researchers on ministry for the Willow Creek Community Church was, “Which type of spiritual community experience is more important in helping you grow in your spiritual journey?” The choices were small group, spiritual friend, mentor. Of the respondents who were “Exploring Christianity” who described themselves as “I believe in God, but I’m not sure about Christ. My faith is not a significant part of my life,” 39% endorsed “small group” and 54% endorsed “spiritual friend.” (Hawkins and Parkinson, 2007)
You can be a “spiritual friend.” Here’s how: Ask around and you will likely find someone who is fairly new to faith in Jesus. Ask him or her if when the pastor introduces a Scripture reference your friend can find it before the pastor starts reading it or explaining it to the congregation. If not, ask your friend if he or she would like a guide for The Journey. If you are a new Traveler, please take the initiative to find a Journey Guide – someone in your church who will agree to walk with you into God’s Kingdom.
The links below open a Renewed Life Journey Guide discussion book and a Traveler’s Notebook. Notice that these are not a curriculum but they are discussion books. A curriculum is a guidebook for a teacher. These are discussion books so you have much more flexibility than you would with a curriculum, and you don’t have to be a trained teacher. A discussion may have to be interrupted or curtailed, so you can pick up next time you meet where had to leave off. Discussions can go on as long as both people want them to. They can range beyond their intended start, and come back to continue. And in a discussion, you both need to listen as much as you talk. After a discussion, you can ask yourself, “What percentage of the total time did I talk?” If the accurate answer is “Less than 50%,” you are guiding well. Most of the Journey Guides who have used this discussion book have found that each discussion takes two sessions of about an hour each.
Hawkins, G. L. and Parkinson, C. (2007) Reveal Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Association