The longer you have been a follower of Jesus the more you forget what it was like starting out in your new faith. Imagine knowing little to nothing about Jesus and then in a “moment,” because of God’s love and grace, you place your faith in the person of Jesus! For that new believer I would imagine a few words that come to mind would be….
All these emotions would weave in and out of your mind and heart. Now, if that is you, let me encourage you…THAT’S NORMAL!
But a question that every new believer asks me is this, “Now What?”
I love this question because the mission of a church should be two fold: 1) seeing people come to Christ; and 2) teaching them how to take next steps.
At Lifepointe it’s our goal to help people experience a Fully Alive relationship with Jesus. So, yes we celebrate the numbers, and we should. I mean this past Easter we saw 24 people place their faith in Jesus for the first time, but we know salvation is not the ending but only the beginning.
So, let me attempt to answer the “Now What” question by giving you 4 important steps to take once you have committed your life to Jesus and have been baptized.
Yes, this is in order of importance!
1. Get in a LifeGroup (Small Group)
Now hang with me because the more churched you are the more you might disagree with me, because most likely you were expecting me to say, read the Bible. Let me explain why reading the Bible is not the best next step for a new believer.
The Bible can be one of the most intimidating and confusing books you will ever read, especially if you know nothing about the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Bible, which up until about 1455 when Gutenberg invented the printing press, was only available to scholars and the well-educated. When the printing press was invented it was the first time the Bible was able to be widely distributed to the common person in their language.
So, this means for hundreds of years after Jesus died and rose from the grave scripture was studied only in community. Yes, this means the early church thrived without a copy of one single Bible (OT only)! So, the reason I say community is the single most important next step in your faith is because you need to be around Christian people who can help you understand the Bible.
Getting in a small group of people who love Jesus will grow your faith faster and stronger than anything else!
2. Get connected in a local church
Yes I know, “read the Bible” is not even number 2!
The more actively involved you get the more you will discover how God can work in and through you. You might not realize this but you have a spiritual gift given to you by God! So, when I say get connected into a local church this is what it will do for your faith:
- You will sit under good Bible teaching
- You will learn how to apply the Bible to your life
- You will serve on a ministry team using your gifts and meeting other new people
- You will be encouraged by the body of Christ
In 1 Corinthians Paul talks about how you, as a believer, are a part of the body of Christ and you have a unique opportunity to contribute to that body. As you read this, and other sections of scripture about the body of Christ, you will discover that this is referring to local churches. So, as you leverage your time, talent, and treasure for Jesus through the local church your faith will grow exponentially.
3. Read the Bible
Okay, there you go!
Now, that you’re in Biblical community (Lifegroup/Small Group), attending church regularly, and using your gifts to serve the body of Christ as you read the Bible, it will come alive! As you begin to read the Bible I recommend two things.
First, start in the Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). I love the book of Mark because it reads like an action movie; very few details but high energy, fast paced, and a lot really cool things happen! Honestly, whatever Gospel book you decide on, you can not go wrong. The reason why I suggest this approach is because learning about the life of Jesus in the beginning phases of your faith is absolutely critical in becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus. The Christian faith is built around a person, not a religion, and not a program. That person is Jesus, so as you discover his life you will discover the life he wants you to live.
Second, get a study Bible in a version that you can actually understand. A great study Bible in the New International Version (NIV) or New Living Translation (NLT) will greatly enhance your Bible reading. Study Bibles will provide you with commentary and insights, so as you read you can also discover the context and events that were surrounding what you are reading.
4. Keep your friends
One of the faults of the church for years is that once someone places their faith in Jesus we rip them out of the their old friendships and fill their calendars with only “church stuff.” Now, as you can tell from the first point above I am all about you having Godly friendships in your life and that is an absolute must. However, one of the ways you can experience God in a unique and powerful way is to use your story to now share your faith with your friends who don’t believe in Jesus.
So, yes you may not continue to “do what they are doing,” but you can still be in their lives, still invest in them, and still keep those relationships. Your most powerful influence will be in the lives of people that you already have a relationship with. God has those people in your life for a reason, and that reason is to shine the hope of Jesus into their lives so that you can see them come to LIFE!