Church leaders must think strategically and thoughtfully about how to help new believers live out their journey with Christ.
By Kyle Wiltshire
Whenever you start a new job or begin attending a new school, there are always more questions than answers. What type of people will I be working with? Who do I sit with at lunch? What will life be like here?
Work and school are incredibly important, but consider how new believers feel after they give their lives to Jesus. They are excited about what the future will hold, but they have no idea where to begin. Because of this, we who are in leadership in churches and have been walking with Jesus for longer need to think strategically and thoughtfully about how to help new believers begin their journey with Christ. Coming to faith in Jesus is the starting line; the discipleship journey is the rest of a person’s life.“Coming to faith in Jesus is the starting line; the discipleship journey is the rest of a person’s life.” — Kyle Wiltshire Click To Tweet
In Follower: Beginning Your Walk with Jesus, I wanted to help new believers and church leaders have an idea of where to start the discipleship process. Although the book was written with teenagers in mind, the principles apply to people of all ages.
The following are eight areas of concentration for church leaders to keep in mind as they disciple new believers:
Sure, new Christians have already taken this step of faith, placing their lives in the hands of Jesus and trusting Him for salvation. However, it’s important to help them dig down and have a more thorough understanding of who Jesus is, what He did for them on the cross, and how their new faith in Him orders everything else in their lives.
For those of us who have been followers of Christ for years, the Bible is familiar and a great comfort. For a new believer, it can be intimidating. Where do I start? Why does the main character not show up until midway through the book? Did all this stuff really happen? Helping new believers have a grasp on God’s Word helps set them up for a lifetime of growth in their walk with the Lord.
Prayer is simply talking to God and listening for His response, but it’s not that simple for a new believer. They might wonder: Do I speak out loud? How do I hear God’s voice? How long do I need to pray? Honestly, these are questions long-time believers struggle with too. Giving a framework for what prayer is and simple tips on how to begin goes a long way to help new believers as they start their faith journey.
We walk into a sanctuary or church building and know the drill. We might even have a place where we like to sit every Sunday. But new believers are often puzzled about what is going on in that room with the singing. Worship is more than singing; it’s our heart’s response to God and His greatness. Helping new believers confidently participate in something that is so familiar to us is important in helping them develop a sustainable faith walk.“Helping new believers confidently participate in something that is so familiar to us is important in helping them develop a sustainable faith walk.” — Kyle Wiltshire Click To Tweet
The church is more than a building; the church is the people of God. However, the people of God have an important role to love, support, and help one another. When new believers don’t receive these things, it’s easy for their growth to be stunted. The church must be the church from day one to help new believers grow in their relationship with Jesus.
The Holy Spirit has gifted each person to serve within the church, even new believers. Helping them identify their spiritual gifts gives them a great chance to begin serving right out of the gate. However, churches must also reach out as they reach in. It’s crucial for new believers to see their calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. Their new faith is not just for them. God intends for them to live out their faith by serving others both inside and outside the body of faith.
Every believer has been entrusted with gifts, resources, and time they must fully submit to Christ. The notion that God has called us to give a portion of the things we’ve been given back to Him is foreign to those who have been outside the faith. Seeing ourselves as stewards, rather than owners, helps us hold loosely the things of this world. It is important to help new believers understand this.“Seeing ourselves as stewards, rather than owners, helps us hold loosely the things of this world. It is important to help new believers understand this.” — Kyle Wiltshire Click To Tweet
Sometimes evangelism comes easier to new believers than it does to those of us who have been Christians for a while. They are excited about their newfound faith and want others to know the One who saved them. Encouraging new believers to share Jesus with others and giving them some help in knowing how to do that is important. Their passion might even rub off on other believers who have become complacent.
If a runner lined up to begin a race, heard the starter gun fire, and began running, only to stop after a few feet, they wouldn’t accomplish the goal of the race. The aim is to finish, not just begin.
We don’t want people to just start a journey with Christ. We want them to run to the finish line and receive a “well done” from the Lord. And we play a crucial part in their journeys. We can help them navigate their first steps with much more clarity and purpose when we walk with them. We are all followers of Jesus at different stages of the race. Let’s all run as if to win, supporting one another to the finish line, especially our new brothers and sisters.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Kyle is a content specialist for Lifeway Students.