You face one of the most important opportunities of any ministry – touching the lives of people. You have the extremely gratifying privilege of helping to establish a new Christian’s faith in Jesus Christ. You will have the joy of helping this person begin growing toward maturity and fruitfulness in Christ. This was Paul’s great burden, as he writes in Colossians.
"...we teach everyone we can all that we know about Him, so that, if possible, we bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working at all the time with all the strength that God gives me…"
What a comfort to remember that the same Holy Spirit who draws men and women to Christ is the only One who is truly capable of enabling anyone to grow to maturity in Christ. In both cases, He generally uses human instruments. You must be confident of His powerful workings in and through lives as you do your best in follow-up. Take the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit and always leave the results up to God.
USING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR FOLLOW-UP
Effective follow-up means having a clear set of goals, a plan for accomplishing those goals, a warm relationship with the new Christian, and the assurance that God is in control of producing the growth. These materials are designed to be used in five separate sessions. They will help you communicate clearly and effectively the basic steps for beginning an exciting new life in Christ. The goals of these sessions are:
To establish the new Christian’s confidence in Scripture as the basis for Christian faith.
To help the new Christian understand simple scriptural principles of spiritual growth.
To begin building a personal, Christian friendship that leads the new Christian into meaningful relationships and service with a group of fellow believers.
These lessons can be used with anyone who wants to grow closer to God. The person may have just trusted Christ after you shared the Would You Like to Know God Personally? booklet, or the person may be a Christian interested in growth. To set up an appointment, begin by sharing a little of your own experience of receiving Christ. Tell how someone helped you, or how God enabled you to begin to grow in your relationship with Christ. Offer the person the same opportunity by meeting with you to learn more about Christ: “Could we meet again in a few days to go over some things that will help you grow in your new relationship with Christ?”
If the answer is yes, set up a convenient time and place. (You may prefer to arrange all five appointments now, or simply set them up one at a time depending on the person’s interest.)
If the answer is no, explain the Train Diagram from the Would You Like To Know God Personally? booklet.
After showing the “facts” part, ask if you can share a few more facts on which to base faith in Jesus Christ. Then briefly present the first follow-up sheet.
In any case, invite the person to an activity where Christians will be involved.
To develop good rapport with this person, follow these suggestions:
Show genuine personal interest. The new Christian needs to feel important and to know you are always available. People learn best when they feel the teacher cares for them. – Be sure to ask about the person’s life: “How are things going for you?” As you show interest, ask questions, and listen, you will become aware of real concerns in their life. Then you can sensitively share how Jesus is relevant to every detail of every human life. Remember, concern for the person is more important that getting through the materials. Be flexible as you walk in the Spirit!
Extend your interest beyond the follow-up meetings. Begin to build a friendship by doing things together, things you both enjoy. Offer an invitation to do something with other Christians.
Share about things from your own personal life as well as the message (1 Thessalonians 2:6, 7). – Be an example of worthy conduct (Philippians 4:9). – Be open about how you are also learning to apply the Bible in your life. Describe how the Lord is teaching you through His Word. – Be natural in talking to God about your concerns when you are together. – Respond with excitement at any new discoveries made by the new Christian. Be careful not to deflate interest by treating something as old, familiar material.
Remember these tips: – Accept the individual on the basis of love and trust, not performance. – Smile a lot, maintain eye contact, and use the person’s name. – Never laugh at a question or an answer. – Never be negative about any other person, group, or organization. – Approach follow-up on the basis of sharing rather than teaching (Philippians 2:3, 4; 2 Timothy 2:24). Admit when you don’t know an answer. Look it up together or find the answer later. – Be enthusiastic. Your attitude is contagious.
Find out if the person has a Bible. If not, contact your local Campus Crusade for Christ group, a local church, the Gideons or other Christian organizations, or buy one at a bookstore.
Follow the simple plan below for each follow-up appointment. Use the follow-up sheet as a simple guide through the session. Additional information is provided for each lesson in the Session Plans on the next few pages.
Offer a friendly personal greeting.
Find a comfortable place where you can sit next to or across from each other with minimal distractions.
Take as much time as necessary to establish rapport (see above).
Ask a question to guide the conversation to the follow-up topic. (The Session Plans that follow include suggested introductory questions.)
After the person responds to your question, lead in a brief prayer.
Introduce the follow-up sheet for the day. You may prefer to hold it in front of you, turning it as appropriate when you want the new Christian to read something. Or, you may hold it so you can both see it at the same time. Invite the person to raise any questions as you proceed.
Talk about each point on the sheet: – Read aloud (or ask the person to do so) the information given. – Look up all Bible verses marked “Read…” (Verses in parentheses are to be looked up only if time allows or if the person raises questions on that point. You should be familiar with those verses.) – Use the questions as beginning points for dialogue. Some other questions you may find helpful in stimulating thoughtful discussions are:
Why do you think that idea is important?
How would you explain that idea to one of your non-Christian friends?
What other thoughts did that verse trigger?
How might the truth of that verse make a difference to you?
Item 4 on each sheet leads into an assignment for the person to do during the week. Avoid making these sound like homework; they are highly enjoyable, brief activities that will make what was learned in the session seem more meaningful to the new Christian.
At the conclusion of the session, schedule the next time to get together, calling attention to the box at the bottom of page 2. Have the person write down the time of your next meeting.
Close in prayer.
LEADING EACH SESSION
FOCUS OF THE SESSION: You can be confident in your relationship with God because of Christ’s death on the cross and your trust in Him; God has made many promises to you based on this relationship.
PREPARATION: Bring a Bible and a Would You Like To Know God Personally? booklet as well as Follow-up Sheet #1.
Become familiar with Ephesians 2:8, 9; John 1:12; Revelation 3:20; Hebrews 13:5; Colossians 1:13, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:11-13, and the Train Diagram. If you used a Four Spiritual Laws booklet to share with the person use that in this lesson instead.
ESTABLISH RAPPORT: Ask, “How are things going for you?” Talk for a few minutes about events in each other’s week.
TRANSITION TO TOPIC: Ask, “What have you been thinking about some of the things we talked about in our last meeting?” Answer any questions the person may raise. Lead a brief prayer, asking God’s help in making this time meaningful.
USING THE FOLLOW-UP SHEET: Introduce the sheet, “This sheet is a helpful tool to keep us both thinking about the same thing at the same time. We’ll work through it together.”
After reading through the introductory material and reviewing the Would You Like to Know God Personally? booklet, call attention to the key question. Accept the response to this question without attempting to evaluate their answer at this point. Then refer to the transition statement at the bottom of the page and go on to Point 1.
- Read through the information, looking up and reading Ephesians 2:8, 9. Then ask the key question.
- If the person indicates some questions or reservations, ask if there is a specific part of Ephesians 2:8, 9 that is most difficult to accept. These other references support these key concepts: grace: (Romans 3:23, 24); saved: (Luke 19:10); faith: (Romans 3:28).
- If you are unable to fully resolve the person’s uncertainties, ask the person to defer coming to a conclusion until more of the Bible has been studied. The basic concepts of spiritual life, while very simple, are profoundly opposed to the normal thought patterns of non-Christians, and frequently are not immediately accepted by new believers. The purpose of this question is to see if the person does understand that salvation is by faith, not by works.
Read through the statements and the verses, focusing attention on the questions. Again, ask the person to respond to the key question and the question at the bottom of the page.
Read the information about the Train.
Read through the three review statements and the five truths to reflect on during the coming week. Explain what a daily time of Bible reading and prayer has meant to you.
Suggest that the new Christian begin a daily time of Bible reading and prayer. Rereading the references on the follow-up sheet or beginning to read the Gospel of John are good starting points. You may want to give the person a Follow-up Sheet #2 in preparation for your next meeting.
You may also want to:
- Invite the person to your weekly meeting (offer to go together).
- Find out if the person has a Bible (if not, help them get one).
- Introduce Transferable Concept #1.
- Confirm the time and place for the next meeting which will deal with experiencing God’s love and forgiveness.
FOCUS OF THE SESSION: You are forgiven through Christ’s death on the cross by placing your trust in Him (relationship). You can experience this love and forgiveness moment by moment (fellowship) as you deal with your sin.
PREPARATION: Read Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:6-8; 1 Peter 3:18; Colossians 2:13, 14; 1 John 1:9; Psalms 32:5; 103:12; and Isaiah 43:25. Be sure you are familiar with the distinction made in this session between relationship and fellowship, and that you are familiar with the material on confession.
ESTABLISH RAPPORT: Ask about something the person told you in a previous meeting: “How did your meeting with your advisor come out?” A personalized question such as this shows that you cared enough to listen and remember.
TRANSITION TO TOPIC: Recall the biblical truth the person selected at the last meeting. Ask, “What have you thought about that truth since the last time we got together?” Allow the person time to ask questions about last week’s discussion. Lead in prayer, thanking God for His many benefits.
USING THE FOLLOW-UP SHEET: Read the introductory material aloud, asking the two questions. After a brief look at the Relationship/Fellowship chart, ask if there are any questions. If so, look up the verses that are in parentheses. Use the question to make a transition into Point 1.
Focus on what sin is and how it affects both believers and unbelievers.
The person should be able to correctly answer the four questions:
- What has God done with your sins? (forgive them)
- How many of your sins did Christ die for? (all)
- When Christ died on the cross for you, how many of your sins were in the future? (all)
- What difference will it make in your daily life to know you are totally forgiven?
The answer to the question, “How can you restore your fellowship with God?” is found in 1 John 1:9.
Reemphasize the “sin/forgiveness list” activity, pointing out that this is not something to do often, but simply a way to focus attention on how completely we are forgiven. Emphasize the importance of doing the list and promise to talk about how it went the next time you meet. Help the new Christian locate the three suggested passages and suggest using them during the daily time for Bible reading and prayer. Confirm the time and place of your next appointment.
FOCUS OF THE SESSION: The Holy Spirit is the source of power to live the Christian life and every believer can appropriate this power by faith.
PREPARATION: Read John 7:37-39; 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 5:22, 23; Acts 1:8, and the various references listed in parentheses on the sheet. Be familiar with the three kinds of people and reflect on your own walk in the Spirit.
ESTABLISH RAPPORT: By now you should know enough about each other to talk warmly about the events of the past week. Ask about the person’s experience making the sin/forgiveness list.
TRANSITION TO TOPIC: Share your own experience this week in confessing sin and turning your focus back to God. Lead in thanking God for His love and forgiveness.
USING THE FOLLOW-UP SHEET: Read the introductory material on the front of the sheet.
In discussing the fruit of the Spirit, you may want to contrast God’s process of developing His qualities within people as opposed to the usual way people go about trying to self-improve.
If the person chooses either the natural or carnal circle, ask for a reason. Avoid trying to argue the person into changing, since Christ can only be placed in control of a life by that person’s own sincere desire. Share how walking with Christ has been meaningful to you.
Focus on the Heart Preparation section:
- Why do you think it is important to God that you desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Because God does not force Himself on anyone. He knows our hearts and will not act against the true desire within us.
- How would you express your level of desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit? Because this is a personal question, be sensitive. If the desire is not very strong, ask what seems to be keeping the desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit from growing?
- Why do you think it is important to confess all known sin in order to be filled with the Spirit? Until we consciously have clean hearts before God, He cannot fill us.
- What do you think yielding every area of your life to Christ would involve? Allow some time for thought on this.
- This prayer is not a magical act that fills someone with the Spirit. Emphasize that only faith in God and His Word will appropriate the Spirit’s power.
- How accurately does this prayer reflect the desire of your heart? Invite the receptive person to pray now or think of a good time to do so. Again, don’t force, but indicate that you will check on this matter next time you get together.
Be sure you recall the three factors involved in confession from last week’s session:
- Agree with God that you have sinned.
- Agree that God has already forgiven you.
- Ask God to change your attitudes and actions toward Him and away from your sin. – Confirm the time and place of your next meeting.
FOCUS OF THE SESSION: Growing in your relationship with God involves obedience in four areas of communication.
PREPARATION: Read Philippians 3:7-10; Psalm 139:17, 18; Matthew 22:36-38; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Philippians 4:6, 7; Hebrews 10:24, 25; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 1:5-9; and 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7. Be sure you know of an introductory Bible Study (e.g. Discovery Group) or other Christian group you can help this person become involved with.
ESTABLISH RAPPORT: Again, ask about things the person has already indicated are of interest and concern.
TRANSITION TO TOPIC: Ask if there was an opportunity to apply “spiritual breathing.” Ask if they have questions about being filled with the Spirit.
USING THE FOLLOW-UP SHEET: This session is crucial, for it is the springboard for the new Christian to become involved in four significant things:
- Small group Bible study
- Personal time of Bible reading and prayer
- Witnessing about their faith in Jesus Christ
- A weekly meeting with other Christians
It is important to proceed with sensitivity on these issues, avoid giving the feeling of a sudden avalanche of activities and responsibilities. If you sense four things are too much, too soon, focus on just one or two. A small group Bible study will provide continued growth and involvement with your ministry, which will lead to the other involvements if the person is not yet ready for them. If the person resists the Bible study, continue to develop your friendship and invite the person to various activities where relationships with Christians can be built. Going to church or a weekly meeting can provide fellowship and an atmosphere that encourages growth.
The person’s answers to the two questions will give the solid clues to the level of interest in pursuing growth opportunities.
In addition to asking the question, you might share some of your own experiences in the Word and in prayer.
- After the person responds to finding supportive Christian fellowship, mention your own experience in a small group Bible study.
- Emphasize the summary statement that God is the source of our growth.
Reflect an expectant attitude about what God will do in the person’s life. Emphasize that growth is usually a very gradual process.
Go through the three areas, observing the person’s response. If you sense hesitance, focus on involving the person in a Bible study. Invite him or her to accompany you in making a contact to go witnessing. Whatever the person’s level of commitment, conclude with a clear understanding of the importance of taking advantage of growth opportunities. Confirm the time and place of your next meeting.
(Note this series is designed to end either here on the fourth lesson or after the next session dealing with sexual purity. If you are using lesson five, set up the date, time, and place for that lesson. If you are ending after four lessons, make sure the person has a clear understanding of when and where you’ll meet next.)
FOCUS OF THE SESSION: God’s will is that you wait for marriage to experience physical intimacy. If you have not waited, there is forgiveness and a new start available in Christ. His commands are given with your best interest in mind.
PREPARATION: Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4; Psalm 51; Colossians 3:5-10; Daniel 1; John 4; and the various references listed on this sheet. Since this topic is very personal and prevalent today, prayerfully ask God to make you very sensitive to this person’s need.
ESTABLISH RAPPORT: Ask about things of interest or concern from last week. Inquire about a point of application.
TRANSITION TO TOPIC: Recall some of the changes the person expected to occur as God produced growth in their life (Point 3 from Session 4 “Growing in Your New Life”). Then ask, “Have you given any thought to how your relationship with God affects the way you relate to the opposite sex? Did you expect any changes in this area?”
USING THE FOLLOW-UP SHEET:
Our society places a strong emphasis on sexuality. Most people feel they have to live up to these unrealistic standards or, in other cases, mistakenly turn to sex in their search for intimacy. Like Paul, you will be helping this person “excel still more” in their walk with God as you help them understand what He has to say about physical intimacy (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
In using this sheet, there is a need to be vulnerable and transparent. Relate anything in your own life which might be helpful, but with discretion. Specifically, be willing to identify with the struggle and temptation in the moral area while choosing to be Spirit-filled. Remember, the more honest you are, the more responsive the person will be.
Even if a person has not sinned sexually they will learn why they should wait, how to restore fellowship with God if they do sin, and that God has our best interests in mind when He gives commands.
Be sure the person’s responses to the questions are correct. Clarify the key points if needed and emphasize the summary paragraph.
In addition to asking the question, emphasize God’s purpose for sex as highlighted under “provide.”
God created sex to deepen the level of trust and acceptance in a marriage relationship. This can provide lasting enjoyment and total fulfillment if it is used in the right context. That’s why the abuse of sex produces such enormous disappointments.
When we don’t follow God’s instruction, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, STDs, emotional guilt, loss of self respect, etc., are the eventual and inevitable results.
Even though a person may not have sinned sexually, emphasize that this point shows how to restore fellowship with God.
In order to share God’s perspective on sex with someone else, you need to be comfortable with your own sexuality. This means practicing God’s standards in your own life and experiencing His total forgiveness for yourself if you have ever struggled or fallen in the sexual area.
Two recommended resources:
- Tape by Josh McDowell “Clean Heart for a New Start”
- Book by Dick Purnell Free to Love Again
Go through the Scripture passages and questions on Daniel. Explain the cultural significance of Daniel not eating the meat offered to the pagan idols. Then relate it to the cultural significance today of choosing to wait to have sex.
If the person has had sex, emphasize that they can startwaiting today. God will bless their decision just as He blessed Daniel’s. Go through the four areas of application, highlighting the Scriptures mentioned.
Ask them if they want you to hold them accountable and set scheduled times and questions.
By the way, who is holding you accountable?