A local church is on the planet to make disciples, not merely help people “make decisions” for Christ and then leave them alone and uncared for.
Sadly, in some churches people are led to “receive Christ” but are not challenged to grow in their new journey with Him. In these churches, leading someone to faith is treated like “the end,” as if the church has fulfilled her responsibility when someone becomes a Christian. But the moment of salvation is “the beginning” of new and eternal life, the beginning of living in a new kingdom and serving a new King, the beginning of knowing Christ.
Thankfully, the Lord continues to raise up leaders who are committed to shepherd people beyond the moment of salvation. They understand that the Lord uses the body of Christ not only in the moment of justification but also in the process of sanctification. There are two essentials for a local church to have effective ministry to new believers:
Jesus gives us the image of being born again to describe what it means to become His and enter His kingdom (John 3:3). Because of Christ, new believers are now a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are brand new.
When someone is born physically, a passionate parent provides care and attention. The newborn is held, fed, and loved. Of course, as the child grows, the child is taught to walk, to feed himself, and to make choices. But those first few months and years are so critical. Only a negligent parent leaves a newborn to fend for himself. Though none of us parented perfectly, our passion for our kids drove us to provide care and nurture. In the same way, those born into the kingdom need care and nurture. And those churches passionate for new believers, though not perfect, will seek to provide it.
While the research is nearly a decade old, in our research behind Simple Church, we discovered that vibrant and growing churches were much more likely to have a clear plan for new believers. The plan may be a new believer’s small group or class. It may be helping the person connect to a group in the church. It may be a more mature believer is asked to care for the new believer. The plans vary, but as a whole the vibrant churches had a plan to follow-up with and care for those who indicate they have become Christian.
Do you have a passion and a plan for the new believers the Lord births in your church?
I am really excited about a new resource we have developed, and are developing, with a team of local church leaders who are passionate about disciple-making. The Disciple’s Path will be a series of studies designed for groups or one-on-one discipleship. There will be six studies in the series (The Beginning, The Way, The Call, The Truth, The Life, The Mission). The first is called The Beginning and is designed for new disciples. I think it is incredible content and would work great in any setting you have designed for new believers.
During this five-week study, young disciples will explore the foundations of following Jesus and find answers to the questions all disciples are asking, including:
- What does it mean to be a disciple?
- How do I make Jesus the center of my life?
- How do I connect with God in a deep and personal way?
- What does my relationship with Jesus look like in community?
- How do I model Jesus in my everyday life?
Each session incorporates teaching, conversing, learning, modeling, practicing, and reporting. The disciple-maker teaches and models some practice of a disciple, which leads to conversation that guides the disciple to practice what was taught and modeled; then the disciple-in-training reports to the disciple-maker what was experienced, leading to another transformational conversation.