What to Do with New Believers?
Often opportunities for starting new churches are missed because of people's default patterns with new converts.
The default pattern is to incorporate new believers into existing churches. This should not be the default. The default pattern should be to start new churches whenever you get new converts. There are exceptions...but as a general rule every opportunity should be taken to begin new churches...
Often we fail to allow for the involvement of new believers, thinking that they need to mature before they become involved in ministry...One reason for the way we treat new believers and expect so little of them is related to our view of maturity. We mistake knowledge for maturity. This is related to our view of discipleship as a body of knowledge to be transferred rather than patterns and processes to be passed on.
Knowledge is worthless without practice, without applying it to one�s life. If people are not allowed to apply what they have learned, they will not grow in maturity. A relatively new believer, practicing a high percentage of what he has learned, can in reality be more mature than a much older believer.
Perhaps a better measure of maturity would take into account not only the level of knowledge but also the ratio between knowledge and practical living out of that knowledge. Thus, if we fail to provide an opportunity for ministry for new believers, we are condemning them to a life of relative immaturity. This would be a grave mistake, because the resources for evangelizing the world are in the harvest...
How does this play out in the "real world"?
Vicente was a two-month old believer when he first came to one of our church planting training seminars. He actually LIED TO US! saying he had been a Christian for six months, thinking we would not allow him in the training for being such a new convert. It wasn't until after he had begun his fourth outreach group that he shyly admitted to his secret! He used the basic knowledge he had been given and put it to immediate practical use. Today, four years later, Vicente has become a tent-making missionary in the steps of the apostle Paul. Two years ago he gave up everything he cherished and went out totally on faith into the a neighboring rural province (click here for the whole story.) Vicente has been there ever since evangelizing, discipling and planting churches. Last Wednesday night he shared with us that he believes the Lord wants him to personally share the Gospel with all 60,000 people in the rural region he is now living.
Who in reality is the mature believer? The guy who has sat in church for 25-years and knows his Bible from cover to cover but does little with what he knows? Or, a believer like Vicente who knows considerably less, but uses what he knows to make a huge impact on his part of the world?