3. How to Disciple a New ChristianRelated Media
Jesus Christ calls us to a new life, clothes us with Himself, commissions us with a purpose, and empowers us to fulfill that purpose. What is that purpose? It is to follow Him as His disciples and to live for Him as disciplemakers (making disciples who make disciples). That means we are not only to share our faith and lead others to trust in Christ, but we are also to establish them so they will get rooted in their Christian faith.
“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
The goal of establishing a new or young believer is to help her get rooted in the basics of the faith and connected with the community of believers to continue learning. Your willingness to help new believers around you get rooted in their faith flows out of your love for God and love for His people.
When Jesus places a new Christian in your life, what are your options? You can invite her to church, class, or small group and assume she’ll “catch on” to what she needs to know. But, is that the best way? Yes, you want her to join a community of believers, but she needs you right there beside her, personally discipling her in the basics of what it means to be a Christian. That is the best way.
We can no longer assume that women have been taught any truth about Jesus, the Bible, the Church, or the Christian life. Think of your new Christian friend like she is a newborn baby. They need spiritual milk.
“And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Start with the basics of the Christian faith, laying a good foundation of truth for her to grasp and apply to her life.
What Believers Need to Know
Here are nine components to a good foundation for every believer—new or long-term—to be “rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith.”
1. Who Christ is, what He’s done for us on the cross, and what His resurrection means for us
All Christians need to know this information. Christianity is not a lifestyle or rules of conduct. Nor is it a society whose members were initiated by the sprinkling or covering of water. It is about Christ and our relationship with Him. What she needs first and foremost is to get to know Him well and be secure in her relationship with Him.
She also needs to know what Christ did for her on the cross in His death and what His resurrection gives to her. Forgiveness, reconciliation, and justification are benefits we receive from the cross and are huge relationship changers when it comes to our relationship with God. The new life she gets because of Jesus’ resurrection begins the moment she trusts in Christ and continues forever. She needs that assurance.
2. How to read and study a Bible
Make sure she has a Bible (print or online) in a good translation she can understand. Show her how to find Bible books in the table of contents. Explain to her how books are divided up into chapters and verses. Those are the three parts of any Bible verse reference. Walk through the gospel of Mark with her. Show her how to read the passage and let the Holy Spirit show her something from it. I usually ask the question, “What jumped out at you?” That’s the milk for the day God wants to feed her.
3. Who the Holy Spirit is and how He works in our lives
The Holy Spirit is God’s empowering presence in her life. Make sure she understands that He is a person living inside of her who is actively involved in her life. He is the one helping her to understand the Bible passages she is reading. He is the one representing Jesus to her and leading her to trust Him. The Spirit is the one who produces fruit in her life and helps her to sense God’s presence with her. He is there whether she “feels” it or not.
4. Living by the Spirit’s power rather than living by the flesh
Faith is how she received Christ and His Holy Spirit giving her new life. Faith is how she turns her life over to Jesus and trusts Him on a daily basis. Christianity is not a set of rules to follow on her own. She needs to know and understand God’s grace toward her and what it means to live in the freedom of that grace. The Christian life is a life of becoming more dependent on God and less independent of Him. It’s a different way of approaching life.
5. What prayer is — knowing God the Father’s love
Even if she didn’t have a good earthly father, she can by faith believe that she has a good Heavenly Father who loves her dearly and delights in her relying upon Him through prayer. Jesus taught His followers to think of God as their Heavenly Father.
Prayer is communicating with her Heavenly Father and hearing back from Him. It is conversation with Someone who loves her dearly. What a privilege for the believer…to go directly into God’s presence and talk with Him about whatever is on her heart. He desires to hear from her, and He promises to listen.
6. Her identity in Christ
The moment she believed, the old self that was born in Adam died; a new self with the same body but a new interior started life as a new person with a new nature “in Christ.” That new identity contains many unconditional benefits that she got all at once the moment she trusted in Christ. These benefits make possible an unending relationship with God as her Father. One of the fundamental questions of the human race is that of identity, “Who am I?” The one secure, eternal answer is that through faith in Jesus Christ she can say, “I am in Christ, a child of God, one of God’s saints, completely loved and accepted by God”—an identity that no circumstance can change.
7. Obedience flowing from love and gratitude rather than obligation
The entire Christian life is to be lived by faith, not works. Other religions force their followers to adhere to a list of rules to stay acceptable. Christians should want to obey God out of love and gratitude for how much God loves us and for Jesus paying the ultimate price for our sins. Yet, we cannot live an obedient Christian life in our own strength. We must live by faith in Christ every day. By faith, we trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey what God wants for our lives. By faith, we learn to obey Christ and experience a life of freedom and joy.
8. Being part of the Body of Christ and enjoying its community
What a privilege it is to enjoy fellowship with God through prayer and fellowship with other believers in God’s awesome family on earth—the Church (usually written with a capital “C” to distinguish from local individual churches). While she is part of the universal Church, God wants her to be part of a local church family. It is like having relatives all over the world but living with your immediate family. A local church is a group of believers committed to worshiping Christ, teaching His Word, supporting each other as we follow Jesus together and proclaim the good news to others. She can enjoy relationships and spiritual growth within this church community.
9. Telling others about Jesus
As a follower of Jesus Christ, she now has the awesome privilege of sharing the good news of eternal life with others. There is tremendous joy in reaching out to those who do not know Jesus and introducing them to Him so they can know Him just as she now knows Him. This includes letting others see how Christ is living His life through you. And, it also includes telling the good news of the gospel. If she has opportunity to tell someone one thing, she can tell them what she knows about Jesus. That’s enough to plant the seed.
Where to Find New Christians Who Need to Be Discipled
Where are the new believers besides anyone you bring to Christ yourself? Most likely, they are where you are presently connected such as at Bible studies, in mothers’ groups, your workplace, where you live, and in your church.
Like Priscilla and Aquila did in Acts 18:24-26, pay attention as people talk in your group. Listen well to what that woman sitting near you is saying. Don’t assume she knows her identity in Christ. She may not be a believer yet. She may be a new believer. She may be a long-time believer who has never done Bible Study before and feels ignorant compared to others.
Then, come alongside her. For someone new to Bible study, church, or who doesn’t know much, invite her somewhere to talk. Find out what she already knows and what she wants to know. Ask if she’s interested in meeting with you to get more established in her faith. If she is, agree on a time to get together. Get a book for each of you designed for discipling a new Christian. The Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is easily available on Bible.org for you to use. You can also access this guide as an E-book (called A Fresh Start) online.
Maybe you already have something that someone used to disciple you when you were a new Christian. Or, your church might have discipling materials on hand. Just make sure you walk through the 9 necessary elements of a good foundation mentioned above.
Discipling another person makes you rely on Jesus more
Feeling a bit scared or hesitant about discipling a new Christian? Jump right in and do it. Whatever leads you to trust in Jesus more is good for you. If you haven’t been rooted with this basic information, your discipling experience will be a huge growing experience for you as well.
So, give your insecurities to Jesus. He is the one who makes you able to do everything in the Christian life, and that includes discipling a new Christian. You are simply to obey Him and trust His Spirit to work through you. Being scared is a good thing; you will rely on Him more. It is okay to say, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own, but you can in me and through me. I will trust you with this.” Step out in faith.
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Related Topics: Discipleship