Discipling New Christians :: by Lynette Schaefer

How do we go about making or equipping disciples in our church, our small groups and other places where we encounter young converts or new Christians? Do we make sure to welcome, enfold, befriend, encourage; then train and educate in the Word? Or do we kind of leave people to their own devices and sort of think it’s their own problem and it’s up to them to catch on?

Well, I believe that at least part of the reason the Body of Christ has become worldly, fragmented, unchurched, lazy or without direction is because those who are more mature believers don’t take the time to disciple them and help them grow. We need to remember that today’s young converts are tomorrow’s men and women, and the church of tomorrow will only come up to the quality that it contains. So if today’s young converts are having problems with worldliness and not having much of an interest in spiritual things, how do we address these problems? Is it any wonder that so many young people who make “decisions for Christ” at a young age find themselves wandering away and forgetting their faith as they get older? How tragic indeed!

The same principle applies to those who become believers who are older.What do we do as believers who are an active member of an assembly to enfold those who are born or come into our church or group and to help grow them in their own walk with the Lord?

Here are some things we can think about:

Make sure they are properly taught from the Word. The Word of God has to be foundational to everything in our Christian life. If it is not properly taught from the pulpit, in Sunday School, and studied in our daily readings, there will not be much of a spiritual resource to draw from, and we won’t know the Lord. (Prov. 22:6) We need to be educated well in doctrine, prophecy, prayer, and service in order to be a well-rounded Christian so we can carry out our responsibilities as believers. So it is of paramount importance that we be established in our faith, preferably from a very early age. The Jews of old were instructed to teach their children when they arose in the morning and when they sat down in the evening and when they were at their meals. (Ex. 12:24-27, 42) Why should we do any less in our daily lives? How much time do we make for our children and do we put them ahead of our own busy schedules?

We need to live in harmony with what we believe. Nothing turns off a young person from the things of God more than a bunch of hypocrites who don’t do what they preach others should do. It is necessary to be a good example to the younger generation so they can follow in the right path. (Matt. 6:5, 16)

We need to teach by example. If the rest of us strive to live godly lives and not allow inappropriate dress, music, worldly compromise, etc., the focus will be on the Lord and how to do please Him, instead of ourselves and catering to the world. Teaching younger folks by example is the best way to teach while befriending and not “preaching at them”, yet by standing firm in our convictions. (Jas. 4:4)

Provide stimulating and good spiritual activities. Healthy churches should have solid youth ministries with a good Youth Pastor where kids are motivated to show an interest in the things of the Lord, such as youth Missions teams that go to different places. Or otherwise, fun activities for youth such as fundraisers, putting on plays, evangelistic outreaches, etc. (Prov. 22:6) Likewise, adults need things like small groups, special events or niche ministries where they can get together with like-minded folks to do things that interest them and bring glory to God at the same time. That will foster friendships or relationships that go beyond the church walls.

Gain trust by showing love/mentoring. This is a critical element in the process of enfolding. If folks don’t feel like they belong to something or that they can make a valuable contribution, they will be discouraged and move on. Not only that, they will not reach their potential if they have no positive feedback. Young people, especially, need to be very motivated to be a disciple; because so many things of the world and peers are attempting to pull them in that direction. They need to know that you can be trusted to be their guide. (Col. 3:21; Eph. 6:4)
Purposeful living. Our only purpose in the church or as disciples is to live for the Lord and to please Him, nothing else. That means we all have a real purpose and a value in the church in God’s eyes. We are all equipped with different gifts and we need to discover what they are so we can each find our niche in the church and bring forth fruit to God.
You may find the following website helpful: http://www.teamministry.com. It is a ministry profile or gifts inventory in which you answer several questions that determine the areas where you are most gifted and interested in working in the church. The test is really simple and there are no “right or wrong” answers. You might want to give it a try and use it as a tool to see what you can discover about yourself and how you fit in.