WACO—Just as person never would leave a newborn baby to fend for itself, new believers likewise should not be treated that way, a director of ministry to college students told a Texas Baptist workshop.
Clayton Bullion, director of Baptist Student Ministry at Tarleton State University, led the “New Believer Discipleship” workshop held in conjunction with the 2019 Texas Baptists’ annual meeting in Waco.
“In the church sometimes, we say: ‘OK, we’ve led this person to the Lord. The hard part is done.’ And we forget that someone has to raise this newborn Christian,” Bullion said.
New Christians who are not nurtured can fall away from faith or believe things that are untrue, he asserted. They need to be mentored in order to thrive and grow spiritually, Bullion explained to the workshop attendees.
Bullion, who has served the Tarleton BSM for 10 years, speaks from experience. During his first few years at Tarleton, he noticed when students became Christians, the ministry was not sure what to do with them. Furthermore, they were not seeing new believers growing in their faith and making other disciples.
The Tarleton BSM team decided to be more intentional about ministering to new believers. Now, the BSM is seeing an average of one student a week give his or her life to Christ.
Steps to obtain and retain new believers
During the workshop, Bullion suggested how to form a plan to raise new believers within churches or ministries, outlining five things that can aid in both obtaining and retaining new believers.
The most important thing Christians need to do, according to Bullion, is to share the gospel. Christians must boldly share their faith with people they know rather than wait for pastors or other “professionals” to do it for them, he insisted. People are have begun to distrust paid professionals, Bullion said, so it is vital that their friends and people they trust introduce them to Christ.
“If you want new believers, you have to share the gospel,” Bullion said. “One hundred percent of the people you don’t share the gospel with won’t be saved. Find a way to share the gospel.”
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Second, Bullion encouraged having a plan in place for a new Christian. Like getting the nursery ready before the baby is born, having this plan in place before a person even accepts Christ is vital, he said. Preparation is the best way to ensure that new Christians will start their spiritual life in a safe, nurturing environment.
Bullion suggested restructuring Sunday school classes or Bible studies around spiritual age rather than chronological age.
Third, investing in a new believer’s life is important, Bullion explained. He encouraged workshop attendees to teach those who are young in their faith how to grow.
“One of the things that we encourage when someone comes to Christ is for you to sit down with them and share your quiet time with them,” Bullion said. “Teach them how to learn and how to communicate with God.”
He presented the MARC model, where spiritual leaders first model how to have a relationship with Christ, assist the new believer, release them to have a relationship on their own and coach them when they need help. Above all, he said, let these new believers know that they are supported and have a place to turn to when they have questions.
Fourth, Bullion said to keep things simple at first.
“There’s a reason why babies start on milk and formula,” he said. “Oftentimes with new believers, we want to talk about big things, but there are some basics of the faith that we have to be intentional about.”
Fifth, remember it will be messy, Bullion said. New Christians are still learning. It will take time for them to understand Christianity and what it means to live a Christian life.
“So often with new believers, we tell them to get their act together instead of rejoicing because they tried,” he said. “New believers are messy.”
Bullion concluded by encouraging the spiritual leaders to mentor new believers and teach them how to share their faith with others.
Sharing your faith, Bullion said, is the best way to stay strong and continue growing in your relationship with Christ.