Some time ago, I picked up Shadrach’s first book, The Fuel and The Flame. It’s a handbook on basic campus ministry and highlights the essentials of evangelism, discipleship and movement development.
His chapter “Invest Yourself in Establishing Young Believers” contains five prerequisites that were the very things I learned in the mid-70s as a student at Penn State.
1. Follow Up Is Essential
Every parent can tell you how absolutely helpless a newborn baby is. But, frankly, most parents are not prepared for what will become a life-long task of growing their baby to adulthood. Shadrach says, many of us want the glory and excitement of seeing a person come to faith, but we’re not willing to pay the price of following up with them…We can say we trust God to work in new converts’ lives and turn a blind eye to their needs, but how you pray for them and what you do with them will be critical in their initial development.” Pp. 149-50.
We know those first 24 hours are critical to get back to them with assurance of salvation. We don’t know how many doubts they entertain or the seriousness of their questions after we leave them and they start to mull over the decision they just made. They switched sides in a raging spiritual battle. Their non-believing friends will sow the seeds of doubt that the enemy will seek to cultivate.
It should be a given that we meet with them again the next day with assurance of salvation and answers to any questions they have about sin, forgiveness, prayer, etc. Get them started reading the Gospel of John and ask them to write down any questions they have for the next time.
One more thing: Have them sign up with StartingWithGod.com. That content and emails will work reinforce your own nurturing.
2. Each Individual Has Infinite Worth
Shadrach says, “it is so important that you take the lead in helping form their values and convictions—before the cement hardens.” Like wet cement, what is impressed early on will become permanent. “Consistent individual attention is key to helping them begin their new lives right and giving them a healthy long-term perspective of what a New Testament Christian really looks like. Don’t just point new Christians to large meetings or retreats, hoping that somehow they’ll find their way.” P. 154.
3. Major in Building the Basics
You know how important it is to have assurance of salvation, how to know and experience God’s love and forgiveness, how to be filled and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, how to apply the principles of growth, including Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, and putting their faith in action as they tell others about Christ. After almost 45 years of walking with Christ, I keep coming back to these in drawing near to the Lord.
I would commend the work that our R&D Team has done on a new Collaborative Discipleship process. It’s currently undergoing final revisions and is scheduled to go live May 12th on Cru.org. I encourage you to sign up to help test it and give your feedback. I also commend the Thrive Studies.
4. Use Groups to Help Establish Believers
Shadrach says, “Small groups are the backbone of your ministry…Much of Jesus’ discipleship took place in the context of a small group. P. 163. There is something about a learning environment where questions are encouraged and answers discovered together that builds faith. One of the very best things that helped seal my own commitment to Christ was going home the summer after I came to Christ and leading a basic Bible study in my church. It seems too simple to go over the basics listed above. But it is surprising how few Christians can articulate them.
5. Disciples Are Made, Not Born
This point references Walt Henrichsen’s book of the same name. When I read the book as a student, I developed a deep conviction that it isn’t the natural talent that we press into service, “not born,” but God will use us to “make” disciples. We are all in process.
I think we’ve become casual in our ministry about the critical first steps in establishing new believers in the faith. In preparing our students to be on their own for the summer, and as we plan ministry in the fall, let’s be intentional about training disciple-makers.
Spring Coaching Tips
- All good things start (again) with Jesus.
- A Staff Team Pioneering a New Campus Together.
- Select Next Year’s Leadership Now.
- A new 31 Day Experiment.
- Natural mode launching.
- Top Ten Myths About Sharing Your Faith.
- 25 Ways to Keep the World Before Your Students.
- Balancing Relationships.
- Noticing Your Way Into Spiritual Conversations.
- Understanding Change.
- Hove and Holleman’s “A Grander Story.”
- First, prayer.
- Where we’re seeing both fast starts and fast growth.
- “Better than my dreams.”
- Becoming not ashamed of the Gospel.
- The First Two Weeks in the Fall.
- Summer Survival.
- Another use for an effective tool.
Selected Tips from Fall 2016
- “Act as if it were true”.
- Ways a coach helps.
- Did you know…?
- Movement Leadership Forms.
- Ministry beyond ministry.
- Launch and Build Bridges Movements.
- Future Teachers Living Missionally.
- A Destino Multiple Movements Case Study.
- Freshman Takeover Night.
- Some ways to build student leadership.