Lesson 12: SPIRITUAL CHILD CARE
The Lord told His disciples not only to preach the Gospel to every creature, but also "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20). It was not His desire that they should be won to Him and then forgotten.
We have termed this spiritual child care as FOLLOW-UP. Its aim is to help the new "babe in Christ" grow into a happy, mature Christian, who in turn will go out and lead other souls to Christ and help them into spiritual maturity.
WHERE DO NEW CHRISTIANS COME FROM?
Most of the new Christians will come from the following three groups:
1. United evangelistic crusades
2. Local church program or evangelistic meetings
3. Personal evangelism by individuals
There are always a certain number of people who move into your community and transfer their membership from another Local church. This is sometimes an opportune time to interest them in studying the Bible. Many have come to know the Lord months or even years before but never have grown spiritually, even though they might have been quite active in another church.
Each new Christian has certain definite needs. These are discussed in Lesson 2. They are needed immediately. Satan will not wait until Sunday to attack. Although there are certain things every new Christian needs to know, there are also individual needs, problems, and questions for which he must have the answers. Each new Christian is a little different than the last one.
THE DEATH RATE
What would you do or think if you lived in a community where 400 out of every 1,000 babies were born dead? Where 400 of these 600 perished as babies; where of the remaining 200 only 25 lived to be teenagers; and of the 25 teenagers only 5 lived to be adults, get married, and have children of their own? You would be very concerned. You would try to find something to help the situation.
Although it will vary over different parts of the country, according to a recent survey about 60 per cent of the people now profess to belong to some church. This, of course, includes every kind and variety of organization and cult that affiliates itself with the name of Christ. We realize that a large portion of the "members" of these groups are unsaved, but for this illustration we shall consider them as "real" Christians.
If you think of the 1,000 people that live closest to you, your neighbors, friends and acquaintances, 40 percent of them are spiritually dead, lost without Christ. Of the 600 who will join churches in their lifetime, only about 200 will grow spiritually.
Many will not even have the assurance that they are saved, never learn to study their Bibles, never pray except when they are in trouble, and in 5 years after "joining" will not attend church regularly. This will hold true of anyone old enough to make his own decisions as to whether to go or stay at home. Children are often forced to go against their will.
Of the 200 people found in the average church on a Sunday morning, about 25 will be carrying almost all the load. The rest of the people will help a little here and there, but they are not the kind the pastor can depend upon. Among the working 25 will be some who are not to be classed as spiritual workers, but are helping out in the church program just as they do in civic organizations and clubs. After a year or so they will tire of it end quit, even though they are sincere. Their work can only be classified as works of the "Flesh."
Out of the 25 will be about 5 people who could be classified as spiritual Christians (people who have a strong devotional life) who spend time each day in prayer, and who love to read and study their Bibles, and who are concerned about the lost. They are Christians who, by personal witnessing, are leading others to Christ. On any given Sunday in the average church of 200 members, it would be unusual to find more than 5 people who would come under this Classification. Many pastors could not find one. What is the trouble? Is being a happy, fruitful, spiritual Christian beyond the reach of the average person? It was not in New Testament days. Why are there not more converts growing into mature, spiritual, soul-winning Christians? Do you want the souls the Lord gives you to remain "babes"?
NO SPIRITUAL CHILD CARE
The big reason that most Christians remain "babes in Christ" is that they have not been given the Spiritual child care they needed. They have not been taught the basic principles of the Christian life. Children are taught to feed themselves, to wash and dress, to read and write and are given twelve or more years of schooling and then trained for a particular job or occupation.
THE AVERAGE FOLLOW-UP PROGRAM
The normal thing in a church is to introduce the new "babe" to all the people, perhaps even bring him a time or two in your own car, and then find a job in the church program and put him to work. The new job is often just "busy work." This does not help him to grow, but just makes him tired and he may stop coming except when his conscience bothers him or he is in trouble. If he keeps coming, in a year or so he is considered a mature Christian, capable of most any job in the church if he can pray in public and give a talk.
If analyzed, his training would consist of 25 hours of lessons in a Sunday School class (often much of this time is taken up by class business), perhaps the same amount of time or a little more of sermons by the pastor, maybe 10 hours of reading the Bible on his own, a few fellowship meetings, and he is supposed to be a good Christian. In some churches he may have 10 or 12 hours in a new member class, studying church creeds and government or even have memorized a catechism, but no effort has been made to understand or meet his real spiritual needs.
Sunday School , training union, preaching service, or a new member class cannot do a good job of follow-up. In any of these the lessons must change. The same things cannot be taught each week, but a new Christian needs first things first. He cannot wait weeks for a new class to start, or he might be too timid to ask questions in a class. Each of these classes and organizations have their own purpose, but they are not what a brand-new "babe" in Christ needs to start on the road to Christ-likeness. They will all supplement and speed up his growth later, but he must get started right first.
REASONS THAT DEMAND INDIVIDUAL FOLLOW-UP
1. DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS BACKGROUNDS
One person may have attended a good Bible-believing Sunday School and church for years, another a modernistic church; another may have been mixed up in some cult; and the next one may have had no religious training of any kind.
2. DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS
One person may be a college graduate, the next an eighth-grade graduate, the next unable to even write his name. But they all need to grow in the Lord and they can if given the proper attention.
3. DIFFERENT AGES AND SEXES
The first new convert may be a teenager, but the next may be a grandmother, and the next a businessman.
4. DIFFERENT HOME LIFE
There is a big difference in the problems that arise in a Christian home and in a home where one of the mates or both parents are unsaved. Divorce and remarriage pose their problems. In-laws sometimes add to the confusion. Sickness in the home and many other things can hinder or pose special problems in the life of a new Christian.
5. DIFFERENT OCCUPATIONS
Having to work with godless associates or employers often poses a problem. Some jobs may be of a questionable nature or not too ethical. Some jobs are physically exhausting. Sunday work may be required, or evening or night shift, making church attendance difficult, impractical, or impossible.
6. DIFFERENT AMOUNTS OF FREE TIME
Some people have many more responsibilities than others and will be able to spend less time studying.
7. DIFFERENT HOBBIES AND RECREATIONAL HABITS
Television is one of the most time-consuming methods of relaxation today. Some people have become almost enslaved to it. Others may have the habit of playing golf, or going fishing, or working in the yard, or just sleeping on Sunday morning. If the teaching is attempted in a class, all of these factors make it impossible to meet the needs of an individual except in a general way. If someone is absent this complicates the problem even more.
8. DIFFERENT DEGREES OF INTEREST
There must be a desire to grow. Some new Christians are hungry for the Word. They should be helped and allowed to grow as fast as possible. Others soon lose their interest. Even though we would like to see all become fruitful Christians, every one will not, but the percentage should be raised as high as possible. Some will show a marked disinterest in Bible study. This might be hard to understand unless it is realized that all decisions for Christ are not genuine. Some may have been awakened to their need, perhaps have the head knowledge but never have applied it to their hearts. Rather than help deceive them by putting on the garments of church membership, baptism and good works, individual follow-up will often lead an awakened sinner into a real acceptance of Christ as Saviour.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
A flexible program administered whenever possible individually, person to person, to meet the individual need. This course has been written in an attempt to meet that need.
An attempt has been made to include all the essential things EVERY new Christian needs to know to mature spiritually. Several methods are suggested to get the job done. The material is presented in book form, and one chapter at a time should be assigned to prevent hurried sampling of the material without really applying it to the life.
By working with each person individually you are able to help WHEN he needs it most. Follow-up should start thirty seconds after the soul winner is convinced the one with whom he is working has received Jesus as Saviour.
The Bible course has been designed with optional features which will allow those who are really "hungry" for the Word, or those who have more free time, to go through the lessons more thoroughly. The rate of study can be adjusted to each persons' ability and time available.
THREE WAYS OF USING THE BIBLE COURSE
1. THROUGH A CHURCH'S NEW-MEMBER DEPARTMENT
All new converts and membership transfers are assigned to a counselor. The counselor meets with the new Christian and goes over his answers with him, tries to help with his problems, answers his questions and then assigns the next lesson. The counselor then turns in a regular progress report to the church office.
2. BY THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL WINNER
Many churches do not have a follow-up program of any kind. Perhaps the Lord has allowed you the privilege of leading a soul to Him, and you would like to help him grow. The only difference now will be that you assume the responsibility of getting the Bible course and turn in reports only to the Lord. If you yourself have finished the course you can help the next person. You do not have to be an expert, and you will both grow spiritually as you study together. It might surprise you how much more you will learn the second time.
3. BY CORRESPONDENCE
There are some new converts who will move out of the community so you cannot have further personal contact. Souls won while traveling, boys going to the Armed Forces, and others of this type are hard to help. For this reason, if possible, try to interest them in studying by correspondence. This can be done on an individual basis or through a church.
T.L.C. (TENDER LOVE AND CARE)
These are the main ingredients in your relations with the one you are counseling. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (II Tim. 2:24). "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children..... As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged everyone of you, as a father doth his children" (I Thess. 2:7,11).
HOW TO START
As soon as you are convinced that the person to whom you are witnessing has received Christ as Saviour, start your follow-up work. First, you want him to understand he now has eternal life and God wants him to know that he does. Have him read I John 5:11-13. Ask if he meant what he said when he asked Jesus to come into his heart as his Saviour. If he says, "Of course l meant it," or something like that, ask him what it was Jesus promised to do in Rev. 3:20. Then ask, "If Christ said He would come in and you ask Him to come in, is He there?" Then "If Jesus came into your heart, what do these verses (I John 5:11-13) say you have?" You want the person to believe Christ has saved him because God has PROMISED it in His Word.
Another pitfall is he may trust in feelings. Satan will try to cause him to doubt that he is saved and will probably work through feelings. Give him another verse so he will know it will not be through his own strength, but that God will keep him for His own. John 10:27, 28 are good verses to use.
LEAVE SOMETHING WITH HIM
You will have told him many things and his mind will be in a whirl. The Gospel of John arranged by T.C. Horton and printed by Moody Press is excellent for this purpose. It presents God's plan for the salvation of a sinner. This will give the person a chance to go over it again alone. It also has a place in the front for him to sign his name, recording the fact that he has received Christ as Saviour. Have him date it so he will know the date of his second birthday. Explain that it is similar to the Gospel in his Bible with verses underlined for emphasis. Ask him to read at least the first three chapters that night.
WHAT IS NEXT? .......PRAY!
The new convert needs your prayers. This is one of the most critical times in his Christian life. Pray daily. Paul's prayer for the Colossians is a good example (Read Col. 1:9-11).
In the next 24 hours, try to see him again. Satan will have attacked him in all his fury. If it is impossible to see him, try to call him on the telephone, or write a short letter. In your first call, if conditions are favorable, tell him you would like to show him something that meant a great deal in your life. If he is watching a favorite TV program, has company, is getting ready to go somewhere or is otherwise occupied, make a definite date to visit him later. Do not show him what you have. Keep him in suspense. Try to get him to understand that the Christian life should be the happiest life possible on this earth, and that the Bible has many wonderful things in it, but that each new Christian is born as a "BABE in Christ." Your personal testimony and enthusiasm will be very important.
Open the new copy of the Bible course and explain that it has been written especially for new Christians, to answer their questions, and to meet their needs.
Go over the first lesson with him. Look up the references, then tell him you want to leave it with him and have him do the second one by himself. Do not try to get him to say that he will do all twelve lessons; just this one now. Make a definite date to come back and see him. You might preview the lesson by mentioning the importance and use of the four memory verses.
1. Watch your personal appearance, and be careful that you don't have bad breath.
2. Don't teach with a "know-it-all" attitude, but rather from a sharing attitude with each one contributing.
3. Don't argue, and try to avoid controversial questions and denominational issues.
4. Don't try to teach too fast. This is all new to him.
5. Watch that you don't spend too much time just because he is a good listener. Don't give him too much; spiritual BABES can get indigestion too.
6. Don't get sidetracked. Stay with the lesson. Try to answer any questions that are a real problem to him but put the others down on his list for future study.
7. Be observant; take nothing for granted. Notice what he says about people and things, his prayer requests, and other interests (Proverbs 27:23).
8. Go over each of the following lesson plans by yourself before you try to help with his lesson. In this way you can get his needs and the aim of the lesson firmly in mind before you meet him.
1. A good soldier of Christ should not become entangled with the affairs of this life (II Tim. 2:4). True False
2. Follow-up work is best done in a class. True False
3. What characteristics must a good servant of the Lord have according to
(II Tim. 2:24).
not strive, be gentle, apt to teach, patient
strong, powerful in prayer, alert
a good example, wise, sincere
4. Follow-up work should begin:
the first Sunday after people are saved
as soon as a class can be organized
as soon as they are saved
5. Most Christians grow into mature, useful, witnessing Christians.
6. Good follow-up will sometimes reveal that the new member has not fully understood the Gospel nor made a real decision for Christ.
7. Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-11 is a good example of the things for which we should ask the Lord on behalf of a new Christian.
8. The example the counselor sets is not as important as the things he says.
9. Most people like to memorize. True False
10. The counselor should be observant and not take things for granted.
11. How many quiet TIMES have you had in the last week?
12. How many chapters have you read since starting this course?
13. Has the Lord given you the privilege of leading a soul to HIM?
14. Have you enjoyed the course?
15. Have you memorized:
II Tim. 2:2Yes No
I Peter 2:2,3Yes No
Phil. 2: 3,4Yes No
Phil. 1:6Yes No
Titus 2:12-13Yes No
16. How many extra blessings?
The "May of Life" Bible Study Course has introduced you to many interesting subjects of study. Doubtless there are many things you would like to understand more fully.
During this course we have tried to help you establish good spiritual habits – Bible study, prayer, church attendance, witnessing, etc. The fruitfulness of your service for God will depend to a large degree upon your faithfulness in continuing these things.
There are many subjects which could be recommended for study; the whole Bible is "profitable" to you 16(II Tim. 3:16). Here are a few:
The second coming of Christ,
Heaven and Hell,
The Lord's Supper,
The creation of the world,
How to rightly divide the Word,
Covenants of God,
The judgments of God,
The parables of Christ, and
The riches of salvation.
We hope by now you are living the "Way of Life" which Christ has promised you. Ne have tried to teach you many new things. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear unto all" (I Tim. 4:15). Then some day as you stand before Christ may He say; "Well done, thou good and faithful servant..... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21).