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How can I help new believers?

When I became a new believer, my sister helped me become more knowledgeable about the foundations of the Christian faith. There is so much to learn, and so many good and bad voices claiming to know right theology or practices. Without the help my sister provided me, I don’t think I would be writing this article today. And I am still growing in my faith every day.

Our spiritual journey is a lifelong thing and will have ups and downs, forward and backward motion, and sometimes we'll feel totally stuck and inadequate. It's all a part of maturing in our faith. That's why it's so important to keep learning! (See Psalm 119!)

We All Need a Little Help

When we're new believers, we often don't have a solid groundwork of what the Bible actually says. Because of this, we need more mature believers to help guide us toward truth and away from deception (Matthew 7:15-20; Titus 2:7-8). Mature believers can act as big brothers and sisters in the faith—ready and willing to answer questions and walk alongside their new sibling in Christ (1 John 3:1-2; Proverbs 27:17).

Just to clarify, when we say "mature" believers, we mean mature in their faith and relationship with God. A "mature" believer isn't going to automatically be an "older" believer. There are a plenty of adults and elderly people who become new believers too. And there are plenty of people who have claimed to be Christians all their lives but have matured little in their faith. New believers need someone who can help them build a strong, biblical foundation for their faith.

Where should new believers start?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." —2 Corinthians 5:17

Like newborn babies who need milk before they can eat solid food, new believers need to understand the basic building blocks of the Christian faith (1 Peter 2:2) before they start delving into gritter, more complex topics like eschatology (study of the end times) or predestination. A good local church should provide resources for these "newborn" Christians through classes, small groups, mentorship programs, and more.

We can help any new believers in our lives by guiding them to a trusted church community we're familiar with. We could even join a class with them so they have someone they can talk to about what they're learning. Remember that if you don't know the answer to a new believer's question, it's OK to say you don't know. You could research the Bible together to find the answer. (See 2 Timothy 2:23-26.)

Start with the Basics

If you are able to disciple (or teach) a new believer, it's often best to start at the beginning. The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Genesis shows how the world was created (Genesis 1-2), how mankind chose sin over God (Genesis 3), and foreshadows the events of Jesus defeating Satan and death (Genesis 3:15). Genesis provides the "backstory" to Christianity. We should encourage new believers to read Genesis on their own, listen to an audio version, or even read it with them! We'll also want to be on-hand to answer (or help find answers!) to the questions they are certainly going to have.

After reading Genesis, we can direct new believers to the New Testament books of Luke's Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke teaches about Jesus’ ministry, and Acts gives an account of how the early church got started. Acts shows us what Christian gatherings were like and encourages believers to meet and grow together (Acts 2:42). New believers can learn the context for the contemporary church and how to devote themselves to serving God and loving others. It’s important to get together with other believers at least once a week to consistently pray and reflect on God’s Word together.

Recognizing Truth vs. Lies

We need to help new believers recognize false teachers. Many “Christian” speakers are not truly following Christ. In fact, Satan and his demons are known to masquerade as "angels of light" (2 Corinthians 11:15). Some religious authorities promote themselves as being 100% correct, but this is 100% false. 1 John 1:8 (NLT) says, "If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth."

Some red flags are the promotion of God as a wish machine (a.k.a. the prosperity gospel), endorsement of false religions, or insistence on controlling/manipulating others "for their own good" (a.k.a. spiritual abuse). We can help new believers learn how to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1-6) of all teachers. And, yes, we ought to welcome a challenge to our own thinking as well!

God doesn't want us to blindly believe everything everyone tells us. Scripture commands us to be wise, clear in our thinking, and to fact-check what it says. Encourage new believers to ask questions so they can sus out damaging theology, comparing what is being said against what the Bible says.

Priscilla and Aquila were friends of the apostle Paul and knew what it meant to help new believers (Acts 18:25-26). They even held church in their home, where followers of Christ could meet to worship God and learn (1 Corinthians 16:19). They'd discipled many by time a young man named Apollos, with a talent for public speaking, came through Ephesus. Apollos preached a passionate, yet incomplete, message about Jesus. This godly couple helped Apollos get his doctrine straight without quenching his zeal. They had a gift for helping new believers grow and flourish in their faith.

Leading by Example

If new believers are looking to you for mentorship, questions, or partnership in Bible study, then you have the responsibility to live your life as a good example of a Christ follower and lead them toward the truth of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Timothy 2:15). Every person has a different learning style and timeline, so resist the urge to rush new believers. Leave space for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts. If we push head knowledge without allowing room for the Spirit to work, we may create confusion or ensnare them in the unnecessary worries of legalism.

We ought to learn from Jesus' teaching style and speak with mercy, compassion, and respect. Never look down on new believers. Be humble and patient when others don't understand something that seems plain to you. Kindly respond to the questions you can and admit when you don't know an answer. Just like everyone, new believers will stumble and even fall now and then. Don't we all? Help them get up and encourage them to press on (Philippians 3:13-14).

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." —Colossians 4:5-6

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TL;DR

When a person first accepts Christ, they may have little to no knowledge of the Bible or how to live their life as a follower of Jesus. Believers who are more mature in their faith should help new believers as they begin to grow and walk on their spiritual journey (2 Timothy 2:23-26). Local churches may offer "new believer" orientation classes or home church meetings to encourage friendship with other believers (Acts 2:42).

If new believers are looking to you for mentorship, questions, or Bible study, then you have the responsibility to live your life as a good example of a Christ follower and lead them toward the truth of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Timothy 2:15). Take time to talk to them about God, teach biblical doctrine, and help them learn to identify false teachers (Matthew 7:15; 1 John 4:1-6). And always model true humility and Christlikeness in your words and actions (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Writer: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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