There are few things more exciting than seeing a friend being brought to new life in the Lord Jesus Christ! It’s often the culmination of months and years of praying, […]
There are few things more exciting than seeing a friend being brought to new life in the Lord Jesus Christ! It’s often the culmination of months and years of praying, asking and answering questions, despairing, persevering and generally stressing about the fact that he/she hasn’t yet had her eyes opened to the beauty of our God, Father, Son and Spirit, through the gospel. The problem is that for all this time, we have been focused on one thing – that moment when God works in our friend’s life to enable them to trust the Lord Jesus – so much so that when they do take that step, it can leave us feeling slightly wrongfooted and even panicky – ‘err… OK, that’s brilliant…. (BUT WHAT DO I DO NOW?)’
I think there are four key things we want to help new Christians to do…
1. Get established
The first thing that needs to happen when sinners come to know Christ is that they need to get established. By that I mean that they need to grasp the significance and implications of what God has done in uniting them to Christ by faith, and to make sure that they have understood the basic ‘building blocks’ of Christianity. So, for example, it’s vital to get the fact that God is Trinity; that he has drawn us into a relationship with him; that he has changed us, is changing and will change us (and will never let us go); that we are now part of the church, the ‘body of Christ’ and that from now on, every part of our lives is to be lived under Christ’s authority. And how does this happen? I think it is very important for new Christians to meet up with someone – like you! – to work through these key areas during the first few weeks and months of their Christian life.
2. Get connected
As important as it us for you (or someone else) to meet one to one with a new believer, in the long term it is even more important for them to be connected with a local church – somewhere where the Bible is clearly explained and the gospel clearly taught and applied, and where there are people to be encouraged by and to encourage. Christianity is a ‘team sport’, and even though we come to faith as ‘individuals’, it’s important to realise that as soon as we trust Jesus, we come part of his family. Sometimes for new Christians, their first taste of church is fantastic, and they are amazed at what they’ve been missing. At other times, it can be really hard ‘breaking in’ to a new group – starting to feel at home in a local church family may be a real struggle. That’s why it’s so important that we do everything we can to help our friend get connected.
3. Get into good routines
It may seem obvious, but it is very important – we need to help new Christians get into healthy routines – making church a priority in their week, becoming part of a regular small group, reading the Bible every day, thinking over how life is going, praying consistently for God to do his gospel work in them and others… The challenge is that many people have had no experience whatsoever of the rhythms of the Christian life before becoming Christians, and so all this can come as a bit of a shock (and even seem a bit legalistic). We can help by patiently explaining the reason behind these patterns and encouraging our friend to stick to them.
4. Get ‘going’
The final way we can help new Christians is by encouraging them to start serving others right from the start. The primary way in which we do that (both for other Christians as we’ll as those who don’t yet know Christ) is by speaking the gospel into their lives, but there are loads of other opportunities to serve other people for the sake of Christ in the local church. One thing we can do is gently point our friend to those opportunities, and then help them to serve well. That may mean helping to ‘train’ them as we explain what’s expected of them or cheering them on or simply encouraging them to keep going when it’s tough. But whatever it looks like, the main thing is that we encourage new Christians to ‘go’, by serving others as Christ has served us. The early days of walking with Jesus can be challenging, exciting, bewildering and just plain hard. That’s why we need friends to walk with us, and to help us to get set up for the long haul, connected with a local church, with healthy routines and a desire to serve other people.