home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > April 22nd > WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FOUND A BABY LEFT AT YOUR DOORSTEP?


What would you do if you found a newborn baby that had been left at your doorstep? Hopefully your answer sounds similar to “I’d take care of him or her.” What if it wasn’t a baby? What if it was a helpless young child or a teenager, or an adult, who turned up at your doorstep requesting your assistance? I hope that each of us would also be prepared to help whoever it was. What if it was not an abandoned child, youth, or adult? And what if it was not your front door? Instead, how might we each respond if it was a spiritually abandoned and spiritually needy person who turned up at your church seeking the ultimate help: how to be saved? While you might feel a similar compassion as you might have felt for the abandoned child at your doorstep, you may not be as confident in how you would spiritually help this person seeking a connection with God through Jesus Christ. “Where would I begin?” “How could I be an effective discipler of a new believer?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you have asked. For any Christian to effectively disciple a new believer it must involve an individual, a small group, and a congregation.

By this My Father is glorified,
that you bear much fruit and
so prove to be My disciples.
John 15:8

WAYS OF DISCIPLING A NEW BELIEVER

I. Discipling by an individual

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk,
that by it you may grow up into salvation—
First Peter 2:2

Every believer is called to disciple and is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. Our feelings of inadequacy are often the result of our underestimating just how much God has done in us and how much we have spiritually grown as a result. Compared with a newborn believer who desperately needs spiritual nourishment and care, who knows next to nothing about God and HIs Word, you are a veritable source of perpetual spiritual sustenance.

In fact, if you have already been associating with pre-Christians, you may have already been discipling unawares. This is because discipling a new believer often commences not when he or she gives his or her life to Christ but when you become his or her friend! In this way, a person can be discipled to Christ. This might involve a period of time when the pre-believer has watched how you handle life’s difficulties. It might also have included discussions you have had together about the bible or God. Your friend may have also had questions about why you think Jesus is the only way to God and the only way to be forgiven of our sins. Your friend may have accepted your invitation to attend your church, or a Christian meeting, and, despite outward appearances, left that meeting with ‘a spiritual stone in their shoe’. Then the day may have come when the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in their formally dead soul becomes obvious. It seems to be demonstrably true that by far most people who become Christians do so because of a personal invitation from a friend.

A trusted friend can lead a new believer to Christ and lay a foundation in their soul of understanding that salvation is by faith in Christ as an act of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). This does not require a textbook or a special workbook or even formal bible study notes. Much of my discipling of spiritual newborns has taken place in a café and on the back of a paper napkin where I have doodled an explanation of the gospel. Meeting for a coffee or a light meal is where the newborn can be shown that salvation is not just a moment, a decision, or an event—salvation also brings a new identity, a new attitude, a new lifestyle. This new life comes with a new “life map” called the bible. By simply reading through one of the Gospel stories together each week and then asking two key questions after a minute or two, the newborn believer is being discipled. As they begin to understand their new life that can be shown that it is confirmed and represented by water baptism which pictures the believer’s old life being buried in the waters of baptism and their new life in Christ being represented by coming up and out of the waters (Rom. 6:1-4).

We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

II. Discipling by a small group

Every disciple is called to be a part of Christ’s body of believers. When each of our children were born, Kim and I were both there to greet them. As our little family grew each of our subsequent children were soon introduced to their siblings, then their grandparents, then their aunts and uncles. So it is spiritually. The initial discipleship of a newborn believer is most naturally commenced one-on-one. But as soon as possible the new believer must become acquainted with their brothers and sisters in Christ in a regular small group meeting.

¶ For just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
¶ Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
First Corinthians 12:12, 27

It is within the regular small group meetings, the microcosm of the new believer’s larger church family, that they learn to participate by sharing and praying with others, being prayed for, observing how to study God’s Word, asking questions, being corrected, witnessing how to repent, and increasingly how to know God.

As a member of a small group, even if you are not the small group leader, you are still contributing to the discipleship journey of a new believer in how you model your walk with Christ and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

III. Discipling by a congregation

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Every member of a small group of disciples is called to be a part of Christ’s larger body of believers – the church congregation. Disciples of Christ must be tamed and taught to live within a community of believers. Sin separates people but Christ brings people together. Our carnal natures crave being the centre of attention placing ourselves in the middle of our little world. But our new nature longs to connect with brothers and sisters in Christ where we each together make Christ the centre of our now enormous world! We do this by: meeting together and giving heed to the preached Word of God; singing our worship of God together with “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”; offering up prayers of thankfulness to God;  and regularly celebrating the ordinances of Christ, especially the Lord’s Supper. As the church congregation assembles it also enters into a time of larger fellowship where teaching and admonishing take place – often in a very indirect way.

If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
First Timothy 3:15

It is in the larger congregational worship and teaching assembly that a new believer is indirectly discipled by the example of other believers. This is why when you gather (or do not gather) together with your church family on the Lord’s Day you are teaching a new believer a very profound lesson about the importance of obeying Christ’s command not to neglect to gather together (Heb. 10:25). New believers notice when and how you worship God, how you listen to the preached Word, and how you pray in public. In my early years as a Christian teen I noticed that before the service had started, an elderly gentleman in our church would always stop and bow his head in prayer whenever someone in the church building began to pray. He would then wait for them to finish praying before he would continue on his way. No one taught me to do this. But I was deeply impacted by this unspoken and indirect example of this mature disciple of Christ. It has remained my practice to this day.

 

CAN YOU HELP?

Over the past few weeks we have actually had spiritual newborn babies “dropped off at our church’s doorstep” so-to-speak. I need people who can be spiritual parents/brothers/sisters to these newborn believers. Ask any parent and they will tell you that being a carer takes time and patience. Newborns can be messy. Newborns can make mistakes. Newborns can seem to be slow to learn. But remember, you were a newborn once. Each of us can play a role in discipling a newborn believer. You already know more than enough to start. For some you, your newborn disciple will be your own children or grandchildren. For others it will be your friends or even your new friend. To disciple someone one-on-one all you need is time together and paper napkin (the café and coffee are just bonuses). To disciple someone in a small-group all you need to do is to invite them along and let them observe what intimate fellowship with other believers looks like. To disciple someone within a congregation all you need to do is: sincerely worship God; attentively heed the preaching of God’s Word; engage in fellowship after the service (hopefully by introducing your invited friend to others – or by introducing yourself to the invited friends of others); and, serve wherever and however you can.

As we approach the Tasmania Celebration with Will Graham weekend at the end of May we expect that we will have even more newborn believers to disciple. This is why we are going to have a church dinner on the Sunday after the Celebration (on June 5th) and then follow it up for the next three Sundays with Christianity Unpacked which will be a supper, a testimony, a brief presentation, and a time of discussion around tables. All this is designed to connect newborn believers with a one-on-one discipleship opportunity, an invitation to join a small group, and an introduction to the larger congregational meeting. This is how we will disciple a new believer and what we would do if the Lord left a newborn spiritual baby at our church’s doorstep. Will you join me?

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    When I saw this title before I read the rest, I thought of Moses. He was God’s child and would be a leader and yet floated in a basket to be rescued by a princess first. God’s providence. Then again I thought of a baby on my own doorstep and what I would do? Nurture it and teach it about the goodness of the Lord. Then I read the above and I couldn’t think of a more simple and clear map of how to disciple a pre-believer and then a newborn babe in Christ. Thank you Andrew for this wise and gentle way you have walked thru this.

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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