Getting Grounded as a New Christian
FOR THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN
10 POINT COMMENTARY FOR THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN
I have often wondered about the new Christian and why they come for a while then disappear. The family ends up joining the church and then a month or so they start missing services and in time they quit coming altogether. Why? What has happened to retaining our new people? All too often it is because we got 'em in, they got saved, baptized and we showed them the way to a pew and let them sit back to enjoy the ride. A conclusion I have come to is we do not disciple new converts to the extent they need, thus this ten point commentary as to growing the new Christian. This is what they need and what we need to do as the Church.
1. GET GROUNDED IN THE WORD
OK, so today one walks the aisle at invitation time and accepts Christ as Saviour, what do you do? Yes, I am in agreement there needs to be a pastoral followup. The pastor can make sure that new convert knows exactly what they have just received. This is usually done right there on the spot. What I like to find out is do they have a Bible? Is it the same Bible as what your church uses? I make this a point of necessity not an option! They need to be in accordance with what that local church's standard may be. This is not to start a debate of which version to use but to have the person seeing the same text used by the preacher and church body.
How to start them on their reading and studying of the Scriptures. Personally I like to get them started by the book of John. Have them start reading Genesis and the Old Testament all the way through. But start with the book of John, read a chapter or two per day along with a chapter or two from the Old Testament. Once done with John go to Romans, the "constitution" of the Gospels, then the book of Acts. At this point they return to Matthew and read the New Testament through including the three books read earlier. My experience the new convert gets the direction he needs right away in his new journey through God's Word this way.
2. SALVATION NOW BAPTISM
Pastors, deacons, elders, your new convert is now at the point of baptism. How long do you let them go? Again, experience and time says as soon as you can. Meet with the new convert in his house or at the church and discuss with them following their Lord and Saviour in His death, burial, and resurrection. Let them know this is the first step in their growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am not saying save 'em dunk 'em and let 'em go as I have seen. Afterwards there is a lot of discipling to work with them.
3. Grounded in Church
For you the new convert, you may have just accepted Christ now what? Now is the decision of what church are you going to attend? More than likely that is the one you just gave your life to Christ while attending. However there are times you came as a visitor to a church in another town or state. You were gone away from home and now you need to find a church. Ask for help from the Pastor of the church you were saved in. Ask him to suggest churches in your area. He may not have an answer right a way but should be more than willing to research the churches in your area. Find a Bible preaching, Bible teaching church. A church that makes the Bible it's only source of doctrine.
Learn to pray! Be constant in prayer. Prayer is our talking to God. He is our source and our strength. He alone needs to be our guide. Communicate to God daily. Charles Stanley wrote the book years ago, "Handle With prayer" I suggest this book to all new converts and those with a sparse prayer life. Find a place to be alone, taking away the distractions that may be around you. Sitting, standing, kneeling to me does not matter. Just find a place of solitude and there offer up to God your praises, cares and needs. Give you all to God during this time. Do not do it hurriedly but take your time, clear your thoughts and give God the glory he deserves for saving you. Your time with God in prayer lets you be free to grow in communication with him.
Be open to discipleship. Having a matured Christian discipling you is a very great weapon for your maturity in growing for God. The Pastor himself or a deacon, or a selected person by pastoral counsel will know just what you need to grow while being discipled. Church, have a discipleship program for new converts. Speak to them early on in their new life style. They need to know there will be a major difference in their life now. They are becoming a "new creature in Christ" it is our duty to see them through it. I do not agree with discipleship being done without the church. I believe new converts need discipled within that local church, keeping true to the doctrines and standards of that local body. Exceptions can be made when a pastor knows there is like faith and order outside his local church discipling the new convert. That though is like stated an exception.
6. Give It Time
You have started your journey, just accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour, now what? You have found a church, been baptized and discipled, now what? You have started reading but do not fully understand what you read, what are you to do? Keep on Keeping on! Keep doing what you know is right and true. You will not know 100% of 100% immediately. Many of us after several years still cannot explain everything there is to know from God's word. Some will be strong here others there. Your progress depends on you and the one discipling you. How long that takes is up to both the discipler and disciplee. Your knowledge will grow in time as you study and remain obedient to the Word of God. Give it time!
Attending the church of your choice upon salvation is a must. You need that growth provided by being with other Christians. This is an act of obedience and a must for growth. All the discipleship programs and praying you may do will be limited in effectiveness if you are not obedient to attending your local church.
8. GET INVOVLED
Get involved in your local church. Attend all the services and events your church holds. Sing in the choir, join the men's or women's groups. Get into Bible study groups and share your experience. This leads into point 9.
9. SERVE THE CHURCH
Find out where you may serve in the church. You may become an usher or greeter, you may have a gift of working with young children or even take time in nursery. A wise pastor or nursery leader will have you get involved but only for a short period or as a sub. Your growth and attendance in the service is most important in your growth state. Help with youth outings, giving them time outside of the church service and Sunday School time. All of us are important to the local church, but, you as a young Christian, must take top billing to be serviced. This does not mean you will not be able to serve, but serve wisely as instructed in what you do so you grow in the best way possible.
10. KNOW YOUR TESTIMONY
You are young in the body of Christ. You are growing but not ready to witness to people outside of the church. What do you do? KNOW your testimony, know what happened to your life the day you got saved. Then share it with others. You may not have all the Scriptures to say or how to say them, but, you know what you did when you got saved. Share that with others and let them know if they still have questions your pastor will be more than happy to meet with them. You have planted the seed let a wiser Christian now take over. This will be a great witness to your maturity and testimony.
Finally, remember you are not saved unto the church or by the church but unto and by the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Welcome to the greatest journey you will ever have!
I realize most of this is very simple. It HAS to be for the new convert. Even the elder of the church does not need to complicate the Gospel. It is to be open to all that come and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.