Resources for New Believers
Connecting converts to Jesus, the Church, and their faith
When people make a decision for Christ, how are you helping them? What are you doing to make sure they follow through with their faith? As the Church, it is our job not only to help people make decisions but to make disciples. That begins at the point of salvation.
There are a dozen or more ways on a Sunday morning to lead people to Christ. I’m not going to reopen the debate about whether or not we should have people pray a “repeat after me” prayer. And I’m not concerned here with advice on how to help motivate more unbelievers to make a decision. Perhaps I’ll share about that in a future column.
For now, I want to talk specifically about what you can do to help those who have made a decision. No matter how you determine who has made a decision — whether by a show of hands, a plea to come forward, or names on decision cards — once you identify new believers, you must equip them to follow through.
Something in Their Hands, Something to Do, and Some Next Step to Take
The first thing you should do is pray with new believers. The best way to do that is in an area away from the worship center where they can speak one-on-one with someone. That’s when you should put something in their hands: a Bible, of course, but also some literature explaining their decision. A devotional or some other book they can read each day is best.
Next, give them something to do. The first step should be baptism. Statistics show that those who are baptized shortly after deciding to follow Jesus will stick to their faith longer. Provide a way to baptize new believers immediately, if possible. If not, schedule regular baptism services so converts can go public soon after making their decisions.
Then, move new believers toward their next steps. That includes becoming a part of your faith community, but it also means following a discipleship pathway. Make the process for getting on this pathway clear and easy. The purpose of all of this is to make it as simple as possible to follow Jesus.
There are some other ways you can help converts get off to a great start. Here are three questions you should ask when setting up a process to resource new believers in their faith:
1. What Event Do You Want Them to Attend?
Make sure new believers have a way to meet with you. This event is basically a way to meet the pastor. It doesn’t have to be a one-on-one meeting, nor should it be. Provide an opportunity for visitors to get to know you, the church, and the vision better.
Making a decision for Christ is the most important moment of any believer’s life.
This can be as simple as coffee with the pastor, as detailed as a class they attend, or as formal as a dinner you host. The more often you have this event, the less structured it should be. For instance, if “meet the pastor” is a weekly event, maybe just have a place for coffee and snacks after service.
Once a month could be a lunch on Sunday afternoon. If the event is every six weeks to three months, make it more substantial, including a catered meal.
The best avenue for this event is to pair it with an assimilation class. You can invite new believers to share their own stories while you share the story of the church. Then explain how you will help them take their next steps, whether that’s salvation, baptism or membership.
2. What Relationship Do You Want Them to Build?
The primary way people will grow as disciples is through relationship. When they make a decision to follow Christ, you should make mention of your small group ministry. And at your meet-the-pastor event or newcomers’ dinner, make it a big part of your presentation.
Small groups should be something you advertise constantly. In growing churches, it can be difficult to meet new people. And if someone has just made a new decision to follow Christ, they’ll be looking for help. Provide easy-to-follow steps to join a group, and make sure that information is highly visible.
Another great way to build relationships is through a service team. You may not need to mention this at the same time converts make a decision. However, the sooner you get them involved in serving, the more likely they are to stick around.
3. What Pathway Do You Want Them to Take?
Get new believers to the on-ramp as soon as possible. Whatever way your church has designed a discipleship pathway, it must be easy to find and accessible to all. That means offering it regularly and advertising it broadly.
Making it easy to join doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be challenging. Any growth will take effort. New believers should understand that the decision they made was a simple one, but following Jesus can be costly. Provide encouragement and support all along the way. Share plenty of testimonies from those who have recently joined the church or decided to follow Jesus.
Once new believers get on the discipleship pathway, get them involved. That means joining a small group or service team like we already discussed. But it can also mean sharing their faith. That moment of decision is an exciting one.
I love seeing unbelievers’ eyes light up when they meet Jesus for the first time. And sharing that excitement with others is a great way to cement that decision.
Making a decision for Christ is the most important moment of any believer’s life. We cannot take it lightly. We must feel the responsibility of helping them follow through. Don’t assume converts will figure it out or take the steps on their own. Intentionally lead them into a new life in Christ. That’s what influential leadership is all about.