We live in a dark world that promises hope and life but ultimately can’t give true fulfillment. While we all hit bumps that can cause us to fall off the path, many are truly lost. They are searching for something greater, being called in many different directions, and hoping that the next voice they hear will change everything. The world promises that if they do everything on their own, they will find their way. But we know they are only one step away from God.
God is looking for people who will walk with others on this journey to find Him.
As Christ-followers, you and I have been His plan from the very beginning. Many of us can remember someone who walked with and guided us through times of struggle and need.
They sought us out, served us, and shared the love of God with us helping us to follow Him.
While many of us know this in our hearts, it’s easy to assume that most will find their own way to God. Others of us are learning for the first time through Jesus that we are God’s plan to rescue a broken world. Regardless of where we are on our own Christ-following journeys, we are all called to walk alongside others as they find and follow Jesus.
We believe that God is renewing this call for us to be people who Seek, Serve, and Share with others. They need us to walk with them.
Throughout this booklet, you will find out about how to walk with others as they discover Jesus in their lives. As Christians, this is our calling: to love and guide one another on the path to knowing and following Jesus. This is what the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20) is all about.
No matter if you are leading someone in your Home Team, a new friend from the coffee shop down the street, a co-worker, a fellow student from school, or a neighbor, walking alongside them could have a lifelong impact on their life. It will certainly have an impact on you as well.
We call this being a Trail Guide.
By definition, Trail Guides are people who lead others through the challenges of the trail ahead. They may not have even been on the trail before, but since they are ahead, they are leading others. They see what is coming first, step out on new paths, and help those along the way. They are an example to others by living a life of integrity. They don’t have to be an expert in the Bible, just willing to grow in their faith.
Trail Guides are Christ-followers who are willing to seek, serve, and share with others. When they seek others, they continually look for people who need guidance in their walk with Christ. Also, they want to serve others by helping to meet the mental, physical, or emotional needs of others. Finally, they take opportunities to share how Christ has changed their own lives.
Let’s keep it simple. There are people who we can lead all around us: in our workplace, in our schools, in our Home Teams. Keep these things in mind when you seek out those to lead:
• Keep your head up and ears open. You might hear someone say they wished they understood the Bible better or maybe they want to be a better parent. Those people are looking for leadership. If you tune your ears to listen for those cues, you will hear the call of someone needing a Trail Guide.• Don’t just look in the church. You can find someone who is looking to be led at your gym, favorite coffee shop, or on your kids’ sport teams. Put yourself in places where you know people who are one step away from God.• A great question to start with is, “How are you?”
Creating a perfect path for everyone would be impossible. We are all imperfect
and come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and hurts. So, it is important to have reasonable and open expectations when leading as a Trail Guide.
Trail Guides are obedient to Jesus. They trust the Holy Spirit and leave the outcomes to Him. If someone is open to meeting with you, determine how often you would like to get together. Make sure you have a regular rhythm to accomplish the goals you will set together. Think about setting a check-in point to discuss how the journey is going. You should plan to check in at the two-month mark and talk about what next steps make sense.
Here’s some encouragement to get you started:
• You can only lead from what you know.
• Be flexible.• Don’t be afraid of failure.• Be a good listener.• Leading others is messy.
As you begin this journey, it’s important to establish trust with them. Get to know them personally and ask about their life. Where are they in their spiritual journey? Are they a seasoned Christ-follower wanting to work on a particular area in their life? Are they a new believer who is starting from scratch?
Listening and getting to know where they are will provide context to their story; the key is listening and understanding.
TRAIL GUIDE TIP: At Pathway Church, we value stories! Jesus used parables and stories to drive points home and to explain His point of view. Share your story with them to open up two-way communication; this helps build trust and transparency in your conversations.
It’s hard for people to go on a journey when they have unmet needs; these can range from physical, emotional or financial needs. So, how can you serve them or find them resources? Keep listening and learning to know what needs should be met as they are taking their next spiritual step. Don’t be afraid to get help if the needs they have are beyond your ability. They may need resources for therapy or financial assistance.
Another need might require wisdom from someone who is a season or two ahead of them in life. It may be as simple as physical needs, such as a project at their house that would utilize your own skillset.
After their needs have been identified, the next big question is, “Are you ready to take your next spiritual step?
TRAIL GUIDE TIP: Are you stuck? Being a Trail Guide can have some obstacles along the way. Don’t get discouraged…reach out to a friend, church staff member, or another Trail Guide. They are there to listen, help, and give you resources.
This is a key decision on the path. What is the goal? To get to the right destination, they need to learn to follow Jesus in order to be a better version of themselves. This could mean working toward being a better parent, spouse, coworker, or leader. What does that look like to them? When you lead someone using this goal as a compass, true transformation can happen!
Here are some examples of areas of obedience and surrender:
• Processing bad spiritual experiences.• Getting into God’s Word and memorizing scripture.• Dealing with doubts.
Pray and watch God work—journaling helps see God in action.
After you discuss the end goal, talk about the steps that they need to take.
The most vital part of this process is checking in with them regularly while they are taking in these steps. Ask them how things are going and how you can help them. This will encourage them to stay on the path.
Another way to engage is to study the Word together. We all bring different perspectives when we study the Bible. Consider reading a passage together and breaking it down with the following questions:
• What can this story tell us about God?• What can this story tell us about people (or myself)?• If this is God’s Word for our lives, how can I obey it?• Who can I seek, serve, or share?
Open-ended questions also bring new thoughts and considerations for both of you. Here are a few recommended passages:
• John 2:13-16 NIV — Jesus Clears the Temple• John 3:1-5 NIV — Nicodemus: How Can a Man be Born Again?• John 3:16-21 NIV — For God so loved the world... • John 4:1-15 NIV — Jesus and the Samaritan Woman• John 4:46-54 NIV — Jesus Heals an Official’s Son• John 7:14-18 NIV — Jesus Teaches at the Temple• John 8:1-11 NIV — A Woman Caught in Adultery• John 11:45-48 NIV — The Plot to Kill Jesus• John 12:1-8 NIV — Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus• John 12:35-45 NIV — The Unbelief of the People
As you’re engaging in the Bible, consider finding out if they would be interested in joining a Home Team. There are all kinds of small groups to get plugged into: couples, singles, young adult, women’s, and men’s groups.
Once you start seeing progress toward the goals you all have set, give thanks to God for the milestones achieved. Now, you both need to establish the next steps or a new goal. Has this been a good season? Should you take another lap together in mentorship? Should they become a Trail Guide and lead someone else? Encourage them to confidently walk with others as they progress along in their journey with Christ.
In the end, have an honest conversation about where you both want to go from here.