My new computer arrived. I was so excited and eagerly opened the box. Then I suddenly felt overwhelmed and confused. I glanced at the manual and realized it only increased my confusion. At that point I knew the answer was to call an expert.
After experiencing the joy of receiving Christ, many new believers are left feeling overwhelmed and confused. Discipleship is the key, but how does one begin?
Philippians 1:6 tells us that God is committed to working in our lives until he has completed what he set out to do. You can have a significant role in His work in the lives of new believers, informally, one on one, or in a group. Successful nurturing is taking the initiative to share the basics of the Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
Teach them about three key relationship areas: their relationship with God, their relationships with other Christians, and their relationships witih people who don’t yet know Jesus personally.
1. New believers need a vital relationship with God. It will enable them to stand firm and take action. Knowing Jesus can become the most exciting relationship a new believer has.
- They will need assurance of salvation (I John 5:11-13). Affirm that they have been completely forgiven and accepted by God (Ephesians 1:7).
- They need to know God by studying the Bible, which is the primary way God communicates with us. The goal is to teach them how to feed themselves, discovering God's plans and provisions in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16,17). This will make them dependent on God, not just on others.
- They need to communicate with God through prayer — sharing their thoughts, needs and desire to do his will (Philippians 4:6,7).
- They need to know how to maintain their fellowship with God by dealing with sin (I John 1:9) and appropriating the filling of the Holy Spirit by faith (Ephesians 5:18). The Spirit-Filled Life is an excellent resource for helping them learn to rely on God daily.
2. New believers need relationships with other Christians (Hebrews 10:25). As you disciple them with warmth and encouragement, you will model how they can give and receive with other Christians. Emphasize the importance of attending a local Christ-honoring, Bible-teaching church. Introduce them to other Christians and encourage them to form friendships.
How to Choose a Church is a great resource to help them figure out where to connect.
3. New believers need relationships with non-Christians. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean they have to trade in all their “heathen” friends for Christian ones. They can maintain many of the same relationships, but must choose wisely about where and when to meet so they don’t end up making compromises. Encourage them to discover and learn to share their testimony of faith. If they start sharing Christ early in their walk with Jesus, it will become a more natural part of their Christian experience. When they start leading others to Christ, spiritual multiplication happens, transforming many more lives.
Nurturing new believers is a rewarding first step to launching them on their lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus and finding their unique role in the mission he gave us.
For more on how to encourage new believers, read Discipleship 101.