When setting out to plant a new house church (or any model of NT church), one can make many mistakes along the way and still end up with a NT ekklesia. There is one mistake, though, that if committed will almost always lead to church planting failure. Failure to do adequate follow-up is nearly always fatal to a church plant. It is undoubtedly the weak link in most evangelism-discipleship chains.
We are usually a lot better at "winning" people, but not so hot about following up decisions with immediate discipleship and personal attention. The fruit is generally lost due to our neglect. We birth spiritual sons and daughters and then generally abandon them by, 1) turning them over to someone else (seldom works), 2) a pat on the back with instructions to read the Bible, pray, and go to church, or 3) expecting them to somehow figure out on their own how to live their new faith (are new born babies expected to do the same?)
For several years now we have strongly stressed in our training the conservation element (follow-up) in soul winning.
To my surprise, in an internet search for information on the subject, I found the following:
The Billy Graham organization reports that out of all the people converted through their ministry, 90 percent will be lost if not followed up within 48 hours; 90 percent are kept, however, when followed up within 48 hours!
“Decision is 5 percent; following up the decision is the 95 percent,” teaches Billy Graham, the well known international evangelist.
In our own church planting training, conservation (follow-up) is one of the pillar modules that is carefully stressed. It is the second "C" (conservation) of "c.o.s.e.C.h.a." (harvest) church planting training.
When a person expresses any kind of decision or interest in following Christ it is a MUST that BEFORE taking leave of the new convert, an appointment is set up to meet them on THEIR turf within a maximum of 48-hours.
There are then four responsibilities of the evangelist/church planter:
1) review their decision to receive Christ by going over the 1st lesson in the disicipleship manual, answering/clarifying any doubts, questions, etc.
2) visit with the person getting to know them better and hearing their needs and concerns, praying for whatever has been shared
3) help the new believer make out a list of family, friends, and neighbors who do not know the Lord and teach them how to begin praying for them (discipleship is all about obedience to Christ's commands, praying for the lost is one of the first practical lessons)
4) confirm the day/time for continuing the discipleship/mentoring at the convenience of the new believer (they are also encouraged to invite their family/friends to be part of these meetings)
In our own context those who take seriously the follow-up aspect of evangelism are the ones who end up planting NT ekklesias. Those who don't usually end up frustrated and disappointed.
What are your thoughts, experiences, observations with follow-up of new believers or seekers? Share with the rest of us what you have learned about conserving evangelistic results.