Then there is the baby Christian, or "babes" as the Apostle refers to them. Paul has helped plant the Corinthian Church and spent a year and half teaching and ministering there. About two years later he wrote a letter back to those same Corinthian believers, all of who would be young converts and scolded them for being immature. Paul explained that he should be able to write to them as spiritual and mature, but instead (and he is not happy about this) he has to feed them milk like babies. When I was a kid on the playground at my elementary school, one of the biggest insults you could throw out verbally was, "Big baby!"
If you do really conservative math, Paul expected the believers at Corinth to be mature within two or three years. Here is a big important ministry question: How long do you think our churches in America take to "mature" a believer? My answer is "way too long!" In fact, for over 38 years of ministry I have worked with some really old "babies" in my church experience who have never matured and have no desire to do so.
One of my greatest mentors in my last several years, Robert E. Cochran, who is with the Lord today, used to teach a retired men's class. Several times he, much like Paul, would bemoan the level of immaturity that he found in men who claimed to know Christ for 30-50 years of their life. He used to jest with me that "it is annoying to have to move their whiskers out of the way to give them a milk-bottle for the Sunday school lesson."
So let's get real for a few minutes. Francis Chan reports from the churches in China that the youth are praying for mission opportunities in their own country that may actually cause them to be imprisoned or martyred. (Letters to the Church, Francis Chan). If you are a pastor, let's get serious about putting our church members into service roles. Why shouldn't they be serving if they are two years old in their faith? In fact, I would argue that Jesus put His converts into ministry roles almost immediately. The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 went from being an immoral, bigoted rude woman to a missionary to her whole town in the course of an afternoon. The blind man in John 9, who was likely uneducated, was witnessing for Jesus among Pharisaical lawyers the same afternoon after He had met the Messiah. The chain-breaking, crazed Gadarene man with no real identity because he was filled with many evil spirits, was commissioned by Jesus that same afternoon to "go tell his family." He went to nearby towns and witnessed like crazy!
So why do we wait so long to let people serve or testify? Is it our professional training that makes us want to professionally train new converts? Is it our prideful desire to protect them by giving them insight from our years of experience? Is it our thought that "we've never done it that way before?" Whatever the deal, let’s look at the New Testament examples, and let’s get to work putting our church members to service.
THREE STEPS TO GET BABIES GROWING:
STEP 1: I would recommend every believer be taught how to share a simple 3-4 sentence testimony. At our church we call it our "elevator testimony" which means you can share it quickly. We use this in our membership class and it is fun, fast and effective. It’s meant to intrigue, not teach theology. It is so simple even a cave man can do it because the blind man in John 9 did it. My staff at 614ministries.org will gladly send you a pdf or a Word document outlining the three easy steps to train Christ-followers how to share their elevator testimony. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request the elevator testimony steps.
STEP 2: Make sure every believer finds something at church that they can do for the church. Tell them to develop some courage and "just do it!" Serving is what I call “miracle grow” for believers. When they begin to serve in the various ministries of your church, they feel compelled to read their daily devotions more faithfully, to listen to your teaching more intently, and to study verses they have previously ignored. Some begin praying more. Some begin to share their testimony more often. Find ways for young Christians to join with you as you do nursing home visits, hospital visits, community events. Make sure they are helping serve juice for the youth or helping clean up before and after an event while connecting with the other mature believers who are serving. Serving is everyone's calling from God (Romans 12:1-2). Let's get those babies serving.
STEP 3: Remind the believers they are to be maturing as missionaries. Every true Christ-follower is a missionary. Each believer who professes a love for Christ at your church should consider themselves bi-vocational missionaries. Missionaries have pictures of friends and groups they are ministering to each week. Missionaries have stories of how God is working through them and in them. Can your average church member share stories and give a good "missionary slide show?" I believe we are all suppose to able to do that! I believe instead of making excuses as to why we don't do that, we need to get busy fixing the issues. Challenge the young believers to find someone in the church they admire in the faith and attach themselves to that person. Help them find a healthy mentor. Young missionaries need older missionaries to train them up. Encourage your young believers that you are looking forward to hearing their stories from their future mission work and even from the training they are receiving.
At 6.14 Ministries we are committed to helping community church leaders be strengthened and encouraged for effective ministry. In the next 10 years it is estimated that 300,000 churches may close and/or become ineffective. We want to see struggling churches renewed in their mission and passion. Find out more at 614ministries.org.
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