First Steps in Growth
If the person is willing to meet with you regularly:
1. Encourage the person to talk about how things are going
2. Pray with the person about current needs and intercede for needs of others that the person cares about
3. Encourage the person to talk about new insights, particularly what is being learned in the pastor’s baptism prep class.
4. Provide resources like Christian music and books, practical websites
5. Bring the person together with other Christians: Bible studies and sharing groups
6. Help the person assimilate into church life, based on the person’s interests (choir? care ministry?)
The immediate needs for a new Christian are in the areas of assurance of faith and beginning the Christian life-style. Here are scripture verses you can look at together in those first few weeks:
I. The first days: Assurance
One need during the first days of a new Christian is the need for assurance.
So if the person is willing to study scripture with you, you can point out the Basis for Assurance:
The moment a person became a Christian, the following things became true immediately. these are the very things that a new Christian tends to have doubts about, so showing their scripture basis helps him to resist these doubts. These principles are also known as “our position in Christ.” Sometimes the person doubts these because of feeling unworthy: the fact is that God gives these unconditionally and they do not depend on our worthiness. Sometimes a person imagines these things depend upon additional effort: the fact is they are given freely and immediately upon believing, and they are additionally reconfirmed in baptism. Sometimes the person doubts because he expects a certain feeling: these things are objectively true whether we feel them or not. The greatest assurance is to know these things are ours no matter whether feelings come or go.
You can introduce these concepts with the following verses, and don’t feel you need to do them all on the same day:
1. Your relationship with God is secure. Romans 5:1 says we are right with God through _____.
2. All of your sins are forgiven. Acts 10:43 Forgiveness is assured for all who ______.
3. You have new life (you are born again). 1 Peter 1:3-4. says that you know you have new life not because of a feeling, but because Jesus ________.
4. You already have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 says you have eternal life because you have ________.
5. You are in God’s family (you are a child of God). John 1:12 says you are a child of God because you have received ______, which means that you _______ in him. (“His name” is a polite first century way to indicate “His person and authority.”)
6. You have the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3:2 says you have the Spirit not because of some action you took, but by _______ what you heard (that is, the gospel message).
7. You are already part of the church, even before you “join” one. Romans 12:5 says you are part of Christ’s body because you are __ Christ.
The person may run into Christian teachers who may say that the person does not have one or another of the basics listed above, unless they do something else beyond trusting in Christ, so it is good for the new Christian to know that that Bible says these are already true for the believer. When the person does not feel like one of these is actually present, don’t point to feelings, and don’t tell the person to “do something,” but point to the promises in God’s Word. Faith in these promises can be expressed in a prayer such as, “Even though I do not feel like I am forgiven, I thank you that God’s Word says I am forgiven.” An inductive study of these concepts is found at What I Become Through Faith in Jesus.
II. The First Weeks: the Christian’s daily life.
You can demonstrate and explain the basics of the Christian Life style. This life style is meant to preserve the new Christian from guilt and despair, and bring the promised new life from objective reality into experience.
1. Instant forgiveness. The Christian will feel guilt, but it is not necessary to experience guilt for more than a few moments. As soon as one is conscious of a failing, one can immediately tell God one is sorry for doing wrong, and depend on God’s promise for forgiveness. Look at 1 John 1:8-9. God promises to _____ those who confess their sins. See devotions on Forgiveness on Devotion page.
2. God’s Word as food. If needed, show the person how to look up Bible verses. If the person needs an overall introduction to the Bible, see Introduction to the Bible. You can model how to read the Bible as a part of daily life. The goal is not how much one reads, but to think about what each section says. After reading a section, ask What does God want me to do? Why is it that I have not always done so? (this gives you new insight into your sinful nature are need for forgiveness). Thank Jesus for forgiving your failings in this area, and depend on him for help in this area. For a Bible reading Guide, see How to Read the Book of Mark. Look at John 8:32: God’s Word will set you _____.
3. Regular Prayer. We can have an ongoing conversation with God about our needs, feelings, and problems. We can base prayer on Bible verses: if you see a command, ask God to forgive you for the times you have not done it, and ask for strength. If you see a promise, thank God that this promise is true. Look at Philippians 4:6-7. God promises ____ to those who pray. Introduce the idea of using Paul’s prayers by personalizing each sentence. For example, the verse “I ask that the Father will give you the spirit of wisdom” would be phrased, “dear father, please give me the spirit of wisdom.” Paul’s prayers are at Ephesians 1:16-19, Ephesians 3:16-19, and Philippians 1:9-11. These prayer-thoughts can also be said for others: “Dear father, please give ___ the spirit of wisdom.” More on Prayer.
4. Church Participation. Though we are a part of Christ’s church immediately upon believing, we lack many of the benefits unless we actually are present. God assures us of forgiveness through Holy Communion. We support one another. Our faith is strengthened as we repeat the Bible truths in the songs and statements. We get deeper insights into our sin and God’s power through the sermon. Look at Hebrews 10:24-25. Is gathering together just a human idea, or is it God’s desire for us? More on church at God’s Plan for Fellowship.
5. Telling Others. Many writers say that the early weeks of a new Christian are the time when he can have the greatest influence on those around him who are not yet Christians. You can support this in prayer: look at Colossians 4:3. Even Paul desire that others ____ for him so he would know what to say. Take the person with you as you witness. Introduce and memorize key witness verses, such as Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23. Introduce the Teach Yourself to Witness page.
(An inductive study of the concepts above is found at The Christian Life Style.}
To select further Bible studies together, see Finding Bible Studies page.
See Power Points of Christian basics at Faith Builders