Leading in the church is hard.
Yet there really is nothing better in the world than seeing Jesus give people new life.
Seeing people be born again and decide to follow Jesus is why we labor so hard in ministry. If we are honest though, there is often one question that many of us and our churches have but don’t ask. And when we fail to ask it, we are guilty of not making disciples like Jesus has called us to (Matt. 28:16–20).
What do we do now with someone who has just become a Christian? Having a game plan and answer to this question is what allows us to make disciples and fulfill the great mission that Jesus has given us. Here are some simple things to think through to ensure your ministry has an intentional plan to grow new believers.
1. TEACH THEM TO ENJOY GOD’S GRACE
The first thing is to teach them to enjoy God's grace. Jesus is the greatest giver and has given you a new life (John 10:10). You have a God who has made you into a new creature and has given you a new heart (2 Cor. 5:17). New believers must be grounded not in an attitude of getting busy for Jesus, but rather rooted in the sweetest reality of all; you are a child of God, loved more than you can ever imagine.
New followers of Jesus need to know that the Holy Spirit now dwells in them and is already at work changing their desires. This is great news because it means that being a Christian is not a self-reclamation project in which you have found a new way to get your act together. Jesus saved you and will finish what he started, freeing you from Satan, sin, and death (Phil. 1:6).
There really is nothing better in the world than seeing Jesus give people new life.
Often people are saved and quickly are told all the things they now need to start doing—but if they are not oriented to abide in Jesus (John 15:4–7) first, they will become prone to think that Jesus is most concerned about how they perform and achieve, rather than living in light of God’s endless grace based on what Jesus has already achieved for them.
2. ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET INTO THE BIBLE
God has been kind to tell us all about himself in the story of the Bible. It should be your highest priority to make sure anyone who meets Jesus at your church has their own Bible.
It can seem a bit intimidating and overwhelming to think about where to start in reading the Bible, so help them to relax. Remind them that there is no test, and they have the rest of their life to dig in. A good place to start is the book of Luke in the New Testament and then read through to the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation. Encourage them to invest in a good study Bible, which has tons of little notes, articles, and additional insights on the entire Bible. These are often invaluable for a new believer as they help them explore the setting of the Bible and more fully grasp what is going on in whatever passage they are reading.
3. INVITE THEM INTO COMMUNITY
New believers must be taught that the church is not just a weekly conference, but a family. They need to see that as a Christian, you are made to be in relationships with others. It is in these relationships that you will grow in your love for God and for people (Prov. 27:17).
Often people are saved and quickly are told all the things they now need to start doing.
Being a disciple of Jesus is not an individual thing. Meaningful relationships with other Christians will massively shape you and help you grow as a disciple of Jesus. The New Testament has over 50 “one another” verses that refer to loving one another, serving one another, encouraging one another, and praying for one another. Each of these commands requires relationships with other Christians.
Pastor Andy Stanley says that “circles are better than rows,” and it is by leading new believers into community and meaningful relationships with other believers that they are most likely to stay committed and stick to the local church. It is the responsibility of church leaders to make sure it is easy and clear for new believers to access and get into community groups.
4. INVITE THEM TO JOIN THE MISSION
We must tell new believers that their life matters and has deep purpose. Jesus has now called them to be part of the incredible mission of making disciples (Matt. 28:16–20). All of us have a part in this, and every part is important and valuable (1 Cor. 12:12). There are skills, talents, and resources that Jesus your Lord has entrusted you to use wisely to help this mission to see more people meet Jesus and hear the good news of his gospel go forward. Teach them this is an amazing invite and not a burden. We are not doing ministry for God, but with God—and this distinction makes all the difference in the world.
New believers must be taught that the church is not just a weekly conference, but a family.
Jesus is not so much concerned about how much you have or how talented you are, but that you are faithful with what he has given you. Have them think about where they can begin serving and giving at their local church.
This is often where ministry leaders fail to give enough direction and clarity, believing that new believers will do better if we keep the bar low and don’t ask too much of them. Quite the opposite is true, however. Most people leave the church because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality. It is the role of church leaders to help new believers find how and where they can serve; not just for the sake of the mission, but so that they will continue to grow up in the faith.
5. TEACH AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS
New believers frequently have a great sense of zeal because of the change Jesus has done in their life. Tell them to tell everyone they know that a miracle has happened: God has saved you and given you new life! How amazing it is that you have met Jesus and he has taken away your sin so that you can have eternal life and joy. Jesus is all, he is the King of kings, the Maker of all creation, and filled with amazing love! And you know him!
They don’t have to be a Bible expert, have all the answers, or be able to explain everything about God—they just need to tell their story. They are now a witness to how amazing Jesus is, so they can tell everyone this great news. Remember that the early church did not pray for all the answers or comfort in face of all the persecution they were facing, or declare they needed a few years to get themselves cleaned up. Rather they simply prayed for boldness to share with everyone about Jesus (Acts 4:23–31). Help new believers see that evangelism is part of their life with Jesus right from the start.
In all of this, tell them that Jesus loves them, their church loves them, and there is grace upon grace for all of God’s children.