Once a person comes to Christ, our job has only begun. We must do our best to see them as II Peter 3:18 says, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But how do you do that?
First of all, it’s important to realize that it is your presence above everything else that makes the difference. Dawson Trotman once said, “Follow-up is not done by some-thing, it’s done by some-one.” I couldn’t agree more. We suggest that when someone comes to Christ, you meet with them once a week for eight weeks. Just being there makes all the difference in the world. It’s sometimes ideal if the person that led the individual to Christ do the follow-up. At the same time, though, that is not always ideal. For example, if it’s a relative, sometimes someone outside the family is better at follow-up than someone inside. It has to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Biblically, follow-up is a job for the local church. That means if you lead someone to Christ and don’t have time to help them grow, someone in your church does. There’s no way I could follow-up everyone I’m privileged to lead to Christ, and God does not expect me to. Therefore, before an outreach event begins, we have people lined up that are ready to disciple them on a one-by-one basis. Obviously, to avoid any potential issues, you never have a person from the opposite sex following up the new convert. It has to be a man-to-man, woman-to-woman interaction. Keep in mind that the person who does the follow-up does not have to have a thorough knowledge of the Bible. He has to be someone who is sincerely concerned about the new convert growing in his own spiritual walk and willing to help others.
On the first meeting, it’s important to cover the assurance of salvation. The verse I prefer to use is John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” You’ll want to go over with the new convert what has happened in terms of salvation. We come to God as sinners, recognize Christ died for us and rose, and put our trust in Christ alone as our only way to heaven. Once we’ve done that, God promises our eternal life with Him is based on fact, not feeling. Assurance of salvation is one of the best things to cover in that first meeting.
It’s also important to cover how to grow. We grow by communication. He has to talk to us, and we have to talk to Him. Therefore, encourage them to spend time with the Lord in prayer each day and study of the Word. I always recommend they start in Philippians because it’s the easiest book of the New Testament. I suggest they read one chapter a day and stay in that book for one month. The third time through it, they will see things they didn’t see the second time, etc.
Having something to go through with a new convert is always a help. We have booklets such as Welcome to the Family and Growing in the Family, but I cannot stress enough that your presence is what makes the difference.
Sometimes, people are good at fishing but aren’t always as good at follow-up. They tend to “drop” the person the moment they come to Christ. Jump in and do everything you can to help them grow, and you’ll be excited to see a person who’s not only come to Christ but is now a growing believer. After all, that’s why God has us on earth – to impact people for Himself.