3 reflections after my first year as a Christian

 
Eleanor Elms | July 16th 2019

Last year I had the joy of seeing one of my closest friends become a Christian. It was a very exciting time — weeks of praying, chatting and reading the Bible together culminated in her giving her life to Christ. Often, it’s easy to think that our witness ends there… But really it’s just beginning.

I once heard someone compare the way we treat new Christians with the process of having a baby. You wouldn’t carry a baby for nine months, endure labour, take your bundle of joy home and then leave them to fend for themselves with the throwaway advice, “food’s in the fridge, TV’s through there, diapers in the bathroom…”. Similarly, we shouldn’t just tell new Christians that following Jesus is about reading God’s word, speaking to him in prayer and enjoying fellowship with his people and expect them to thrive. And yet, that’s often precisely what we do.

I recently asked my friend “what are some things you’ve learnt and stuff that’s helped you in your first year as a Christian?” This is what she said…

Reading reinvented

“Reading! When I was exploring faith and became a Christian, I read any and every Christian book I could get my hands on. The gospels helped me to understand the basics (don’t assume that your non-Christian friends won’t want to read the Bible!) and The Reason For God by Timothy Keller answered lots of questions I had.

“After becoming a Christian I carried on reading the Bible, but the way I read it changed. Before, it felt like reading a story, but once I became a Christian, I realised I was reading words breathed out by the God who I believed and trusted in—words that were meant to comfort and guide me. Bible study notes such as Explore and She Reads Truth have taught me how to read the Bible and apply it. Christian blogs have been great too (More Precious, The Gospel Coalition, A New Name, Desiring God to name a few!), they were a format that I was used to so didn’t feel daunting.”

New Christians are often hungry to learn about their new faith and reading is a great way to do that. Help them to get to grips with the Bible in accessible ways and don’t assume that they will want to read the Bible in the same way that you do. Paul tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12 v 2)—this is a slow process that happens as we soak ourselves in God’s truth. So be proactive in helping your friend access God’s word and Christian thinking and engagement in productive ways.

Prayer is powerful

“Prayer felt strange at the start. My Christian friends would pray aloud with me and it felt like they had a whole different language to speak to God. Praying aloud can still sometimes feel scary but personal prayer became natural quite quickly—once I realised what it meant to talk to God, it became a lot easier to go to him. Knowing people are praying for me has been one of the most incredible things about this past year. It shows a love and care from others that you just don’t experience in other relationships.”

Don't stop praying for your friend once they've become a Christian. We should give God great praise that he has started working in them and pray that he would continue to do so (Philippians 1 v 6).  Let’s also try to strip back our prayers and use language that doesn’t isolate new Christians.

Church is weird and wonderful

“When I first became a Christian at College, I went to church with my friends. After we graduated few of them stayed at that church. The thought of going to church on my own was daunting — there are often expectations and assumptions ingrained in church life that can make being a new member difficult. For example, one church didn’t have anyone welcoming so I didn’t really know where to go or what to do."

“After I settled at a church, I joined a homegroup. Homegroup has been a great space to learn from Christians of all ages and stages and get to know people in a very real way. One of my favourite things about homegroup is seeing other people’s reaction to the passage we’re reading. Studying the Bible with others is a great way to get to know God through his word. I now really look forward to both church and homegroup!”

God gives us one another to help and encourage us. But church can be a scary prospect for the new believer—it’s an unfamiliar format among people who’ve done it for years and know each other really well. Older Christians can seem overwhelmingly confident in their faith and knowledgeable about things. It will really help new Christians if we can make church less intimidating by explaining churchy words, having a friendly welcoming team and looking out for new people. It will also help if we talk honestly about our own experiences of struggle, so that new believers don’t feel isolated in their experiences.
 

The new Discipleship Explored doesn’t dispute the fact that reading the Bible, praying and church are important for all Christians; it's message is that we first need to turn up the music of the gospel. Find out more

 

 

Eleanor Elms

Eleanor is a Marketing and Publicity Assistant for The Good Book Company. She lives in west London with her husband, Alastair. They attend Trinity West Church where Eleanor helps with children's work.

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