One of the great joys of an intense season of outreach, such as our church just conducted for Open House Sunday, is following up on new Christians.
There is nothing more rewarding than to come alongside a new Christian and help ground him in God’s Word, encourage his faith, and guide him in new patterns of Christian living.
And there is nothing more needed for that young Christian either. Spiritual maturity, like physical maturity, doesn’t take place overnight. Neither does it take place the moment a person is baptized or attends three church services in a row. It takes long-term commitment from spiritual leaders to help someone grow in their faith.
Young Christians need an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. Throughout the New Testament, we see specific ways to nurture growth in young Christians.
Christian fellowship and hospitality
The local church is to be so much more than just a place where people come, listen to music and a sermon, and leave. It is to be a place where believers encourage one another in spiritual growth.
This is why the same verse that commands us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” also says, “but exhorting one another…” (Hebrews 10:25).
Encouraging one another in Christian growth is to be part of what it means to assemble together. And there is no better time to build these relationships than immediately after someone is saved.
Another way to encourage new Christians is through opening your home. Hospitality is all throughout the New Testament, and it is extremely helpful in establishing the new Christians in the faith. When my wife and I have new Christians over to our home, we often invite others who have been saved for a while as well—thus, helping the new believers begin to build other Christian friendships.
One of the most important truths to remember for a soulwinner who is encouraging a new convert is the importance of the local church in the life of every believer. A soulwinner should beware of being the only point of spiritual influence in a young Christian’s life. Although your friendship and care is vital, they need a local church as well. They need a pastor, Bible preaching, small group or class accountability, and a church family.
Encourage them to be faithful to regularly-scheduled services. Help them enroll in an adult Bible class or small group with others in a similar life stage. Introduce them to your pastor and to others in the church family.
Biblically speaking, a disciple is a committed follower of Christ, and discipleship is a life-long process of growth. John 8:31 records, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”
But practically speaking, a structured discipleship meeting can be immensely beneficial in getting this process jump started. Having a weekly discipleship program where a new Christian meets one-on-one with a seasoned Christian for structured instruction while having opportunities to ask questions and, in the process, develop a mentor-type relationship has been very helpful to new Christians in our church.
(We enroll new Christians in discipleship through the adult Bible class. This allows the class leaders to match a new Christian with a trained discipler from their class and to stay involved in helping nurture growth.)
But even a structured discipleship program is only part of the picture. Discipleship is more than a weekly meeting; it is a process of spiritual maturity that is produced through hearing preaching, developing a devotional life, being in a Sunday school or adult Bible class, and growing relationships in the local church. Be there to encourage a new Christian in this kind of growth.
Any investment that you make in the life of a young Christian, is a worthwhile investment. And, as you’ll discover, it not only encourages their growth, but it encourages your spirit! As John wrote in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”