“When an individual comes to our altars and receives the Holy Ghost or is baptized, they begin their new life much like a new born infant – very weak, very hungry, and very dependent upon their mother. They do not know how to live for God, how to pray, how to study the Word, or how to fight temptation. Someone must train them; someone must teach them – and that someone is us. If we abandon the newborn, it will not take long for them to die.”
By Rev. Tim Massengale
Pastor Johnson smiled broadly and waved as Dave and Patti’s car pulled out of the church parking lot. Then, with a small sigh, he turned and walked back into the church. He could not help but feel a little apprehensive.
Dave and Patti were new converts. Both had been baptized and received the Holy Ghost during a revival about a month ago. This morning they had called and asked to meet with him at the church. They had some questions and were puzzled about several things they had heard from other members. Their questions had to do with holiness standards. He had answered them as best he could but he could tell they were not fully convinced. Carefully he had encouraged them to pray about the scripture he had shown them and to give the Spirit time to lead them into a better understanding. Afterwards they had prayed together. Dave and Patti said they felt better and both assured him that they would be in church Sunday. They expressed their love for the church and especially for the presence of God they felt during the services.
Pastor Johnson returned to his study and sat staring out the window, silently praying for this promising new couple. He asked the Lord for the wisdom to help them mature in the Lord. But so many converts had come in lately only to drift off after a few months. He could not help wonder if there wasn’t more that could be done.
Proactive New Convert Care
The above example is fairly common. Souls come in the front door and then frequently slip out the back. Often you will hear people say, “Well, they know the truth. If they want it they know where to find it. When they need God bad enough, they come home.” How sad! Too often we have come to accept a poor retention rate as inevitable. This should not be!
On the day of Pentecost over 3,120 new converts were born into the church that very first day. It had to be the work of the Holy Ghost to inspire the Apostles on how to establish these new Christians. The writer Luke records that after the three thousand were baptized, the new converts continued steadfastly in three areas (Acts 2:41-47): First, instruction (vs. 41, 42, & 46). Secondly, fellowship (vs. 42 & 46). And thirdly, a unity of involvement (vs. 44 & 45). Each of these are extremely critical to the growth of a new convert. If any of these three areas are neglected, the convert will struggle.
Around the turn of the century, the infant death rate was close to 10% – almost one tenth of the babies born in the world died the first few years. Infant diseases such as small pox, scarlet fever, influenza, and others took a heavy toll. Today, the death rate in America less than .04%. Why? Do mothers today love their babies more now then back then? No! The simple fact is, we have learned to care for newborns better. The same applies to the church. If we will learn to take better care of our new converts, we will see more solid, established Christians.
When an individual comes to our altars and receives the Holy Ghost or is baptized, they begin their new life much like a new born infant – very weak, very hungry, and very dependent upon their mother. They do not know how to live for God, how to pray, how to study the Word, or how to fight temptation. Someone must train them; someone must teach them – and that someone is us. If we abandon the newborn, it will not take long for them to die. You can be sure that the devil is going to do everything he can to make them stumble and fall. Somehow we must give them proper nourishment and provide the protection that will deter the devil’s attack. While there are many things that can be done to help strengthen a convert, one of the most important is what many call, ‘First Week Counseling.’