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7 How To Train A Disciple – Follow Up


 

Making disciples begins with the task of evangelism. But if we work only with Christians in our disciple-making ministry, then the net gain to the kingdom of God is zero. Aggressive evangelism is the mark of the committed disciple and it is primarily from the fruit of this evangelism that he chooses his Timothy – the person he seeks to disciple.

If the first step in the disciple-making process is evangelism, then the second is follow-up.  It is one thing to convert a person and set him free but it’s another thing to spend the necessary time to see that he grows and matures into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

In human reproduction the responsible parents’ task only begins when the child is born. Afterward come years of careful nurture and training to ensure that the child develops to the point where he can marry and assume responsibility for his own family.

Follow-up then is spiritual pediatrics – the care and protection of the spiritual infant. It deals with the development of new babes in Christ from the time of their new birth until they grow and provide for themselves.

The Bible teaches us that God has a father’s heart. We saw this in our study of Isaiah 40 – 66. Jesus himself taught us to refer to God as “our Father”. Follow up then is relating to the young Christian the loving concern that our God has shown toward us. We are shocked to the point of unbelief when we hear of a baby being left alone without proper care, but for some reason, our consciences are dulled when we hear of new babes in Christ being neglected. Left alone, they slip into carnality. There are some guidelines for helping new Christian reach maturity.

Ensure Proper Care and Deal with Trouble Areas

Assuming that you have the responsibility for a new babe in Christ, here are some suggestions:

1.  Go over again carefully with him the plan of salvation.

“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His son. He that has the Son has life’ and he that has not the Son of God has not life”. (1 John 5:11-12).

Every person who has the Son has life. You can ask the new Christian, “Where is Jesus Christ tonight/right now? Whatever else this babe says Christ is, he should also say that Christ is in his heart. An illustration of a pencil inside a Bible can be used – the Bible representing Jesus Christ and the pencil, eternal life. If the believer has the Bible (Jesus Christ), then he also has the pencil (eternal life), of eternal life is to be found in the Son.

Also refer to “I want to Become a Christian” or “Pathway to God and Heaven” tags under Resources.

Unfortunately many Christians spend years of their lives living in a fog of uncertainty. Because they do not understand what the Scriptures teach on the subject, they lack assurance of salvation. Proper growth and development can only stem from the new Christian knowing that he is a child of God for all eternity.

2.  Pray for him.

The overwhelming majority of New Testament prayers deal not with the unsaved, buy with the growth and maturity of new Christians. Two great prayers of Paul in Ephesians, for example, deal with his concern for their growth and maturity (see Eph. 1:5-23; 3:14-20).

Prayer is the hardest work we can engage in as a Christian. At the same time, it is the most important part of a follow-up. If you find  that prayer is hard work, I suggest that you simply pray for your new Christian the same prayers that you find in the Bible, such as those in Ephesians. You can do a study on the New Testament prayers that would be applicable and then use them as part of your follow-up program.

3.  Visit him soon and frequently after his decision for Christ.

This is particularly important during the days immediately following his conversion experience. Satan regroups and marshals his counteroffensive, and the new Christian is particularly vulnerable because he does not understand the nature of spiritual warfare or the great truths in the Bible that can help him through trials and temptations.

One of the most significant ministries you can have with  your new Christian is that of encouragement. Let him know that he is now a part of the family of God and that the two of you are brothers in Christ. One of the things that Satan will try to deceive him into believing is that the temptations and problems that he faces are unique to him. Encourage him with the fact that we all fight the same problems; and not only this but during these times of temptation, you want to stand together with him against them.

Ensure a Proper Diet

The proper spiritual diet for a new Christian should include at least:

1.  A consistent quiet time.

In Mark 1:35 we read of one of the habits the Lord Jesus developed. “and in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Each day should begin with a brief period of fellowship with the Lord, for thus the believer gets his spiritual nourishment for the day. The quiet time should include a time of prayer and some time in the Word. The simple acrostic ACTS is useful in helping a person get started in prayer.

Adoration – Begin with a time of worship, praying over the greatness of God. Encourage the new Christian to use some of the prayers in the Bible such as that in 1 Chronicles 29:11-14.

Confession – This is the time of acknowledging our sinfulness and our dependence on the Lord. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). This verse is the Christian’s bar of soap. Let us imagine that my little child goes outside and plays in the mud. As she comes in crying and ask for forgiveness, not only do I forgive her, I take her into the bathroom, wash her from head to foot, and wash her clothes so that, when we are through, it is as though she had never been outside. This is the promise the Lord Jesus makes to the believer in 1 John 1:9.

Thanksgiving – The long list os sins mentioned in Romans 1 begins with the phrase in verse 21, “neither were thankful.” Early in the Christian life the believer must learn the importance of being thankful. This part of the prayer time consists of enumerating the many blessings bestowed on us by the gracious God. “Every good gift and every perfect gifts is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Supplication – We spend time praying for others – our family, friends, church and country. You can help the young Christian in this aspect of prayer, teaching him how to use prayer pages. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle, entitling the left-column “Request” and the right-column “Answers”. Beside each request list the date entered. When the prayer is answered, jot down how it was answered with the date. In a graphic way, this will show the new Christian the marvelous way that God answers prayer. Two quiet time materials would be a big help: The Quiet Time by InterVarsity Press, and Seven Minutes with God, published by the Navigators.

Help the young convert to be consistent in having his quiet time with him by initially having it with him. For example, have a quiet time with him every morning during the first week of his new walk with the Lord. During the second wee, meet with him every other morning, and then once a week for the next month or two.

Encourage him to begin with a short period of time with the Lord rather than with a protracted time. It is better to have seven minutes with the Lord every morning and stay with it than to begin by having an hour with the Lord, then quit in discouragement.

2.  Bible Reading

“As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Start the young Christian with a small portion, preferably from the New Testament or the Psalms and incorporate it in his quiet time.

One method that has worked is to read a paragraph or two, and as you meditate on it, circle or mark one verse that is particularly meaningful. This becomes the favorite verse for the morning. Do this for six mornings, then on the seventh morning, review the six favorite verses and pick out the one that is the favorite among the favorites. That verse can be written on a small card and memorized.

3.  Bible Study.

The most important goal of follow-up is to teach the young Christian how to feed himself from the Word of God. Expose him to mature Christians who can feed him, and thus teach him “the whole counsel of God”, but remember this can never be a substitute for the person learning how to feed himself.

In the initial stages of follow-up, you and your pastor will have to do most of the feeding of the new babe. For many new Christians, the task of learning how to feed themselves from the Word of God is laborious. It has a tendency to appear legalistic and unfruitful.  A good Bible-study help on the market is Design for Discipleship by The Navigators.

Whatever Bible-study method is employed, it should include a period of time when the young Christian prepares the study on his own, and a period of time when he meets together with a group of people who also have done the study and who share their results and learn from one another. In the early weeks of learning how to do Bible study, you will want to prepare the lesson with the new Christian. There is just no substitute for going through these growth processes step by step.

[ Consider this:

Our Divine Teacher

1 Corinthians 2:9-16

One of the reasons that many people—including believers—don’t read the Bible is because they can’t understand it. We would expect that to be the case for those who don’t know Christ, but why do so many believers fail to comprehend the truths of Scripture? Maybe it’s because they haven’t asked for help from their divine Teacher. One of the Holy Spirit’s chief responsibilities is to enable Christians to understand the things of God.

When looking at believers who know more than we do, we’ll sometimes think, I will never be able to reach that level. The issue, however, isn’t how much knowledge you have right now, but whether you are growing in your understanding. The Spirit will teach you what you need to know, not necessarily what others know. Because He wants to make us godly people, He’ll give us enough truth each day to change our lives. He will interpret the meaning and give an application designed specifically for each person.

The Spirit’s goal is not to fill your mind with information but to bring you to a deeper level in your relationship with the Lord. He wants you to understand the truth so you will fall in love with Jesus. Then you’ll long to spend time in the Word, thereby getting to know Him even better.

But all these treasures of God’s Word could remain out of reach if you never ask the Teacher to unlock them. Each time you read your Bible, ask the Lord for understanding. A wonderfully intimate love relationship with Christ awaits those who let the Spirit reveal to them the thoughts of God. InTouch.org. Before you begin any activity with your disciple, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and teach you.]

Ensure Love and Affection

There is one thing it is impossible to give people too much of, and that is love. People misunderstand what love is all about and imagine it to be synonymous with spoiling people. The two are in no way related. Sociologists and psychologists tell us that if a child is deprived of love in the early years of his life, it is questionable whether he will ever be able to understand what it truly means to love and be loved. One of the basic needs In life is to be loved and wanted. We need to apply the principle of TLC(Tender Loving Care) to our babes in Christ. Envelop the young Christian with love!

1.  Invite him over to your home for meals and make him feel a part of the family.

Bob wheeler, a carpenter by trade, was the person who led me to Christ many years ago. One of the most significant things he did was to involve me in his family, I can’t recall how many times I ate at his table, but In know I ate him out of house and home. When I think of Bob, I think of 1 Corinthians 16:15 “know the house of Stephanas that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of saints,

2.  Involve him in the warmth and fellowship of the church.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews warn, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Heb 10:25).

There is a chemistry that takes place in the fellowship of believers which produces an environment that is conducive to growth and stability. Your friends become his friends. The fellowship and encouragement are the major factor in his development as a Christian. There are a great deal of old life that had to be discarded and a great deal of new life that had to be incorporated. The church should play an important role in this transition.

3.  Take him with you.

It is written of the Lord Jesus, “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14). Travel together, take vacations together, play sports together, do things together. What will take place is described in Proverbs 22:17: “Iron sharpens irons; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Ensure an Atmosphere of Acceptance

Often there are things on our hearts that we would like to talk to someone about, but we are apprehensive simply because we are afraid of being misunderstood. When following up a Christian, it is essential that he feels free to share his doubts, fears, and personal problems no matter how intimate they may be, without feeling he will be condemned or rejected because of them.

Peter says, “Charity [love] shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Probably no better counsel is to be found in how to overcome the feelings of inadequacy that all of us have, particularly in our interpersonal relationships. In meeting the needs of our family, in helping others to mature in Christ, this feeling of inadequacy is sometimes overwhelming. But somehow it will all turn out well by adding this ingredient called “love”.

The apprehension you will feel in assuming responsibility for helping the new Christian is quite natural. The application of these simple principles will help, but will not eliminate all apprehension. Stick close by the person and love him as you would love a member of your own family. God will do the rest.