Preparing for a New Member – part 4

babyThis is the fourth and final part of the series – Preparing for a New Member. We’ve compared the welcoming of a new child into a family similar to the welcoming of a guest into a church family. There are three phases of welcoming a guest into our church family: preparation, process and finally, the product.

The preparation deals primarily with how we as a church family can prepare both our church facility and ourselves with having guests at our church. The process went into specific details of we can best make a guest feel at ease during a service at Bethel. The product is the third and final step as we seek to disciple people to become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. We must never back down from the truth that this happens through the local church. The Bible does not know of a growing Christian that is not actively involved within a local church. In fact 24 of the 27 New Testament books have to do with specific, local churches. So how do we get to this final stage of the product?

  1. Hard work. Can we be honest with one another for a moment? Rare, almost without exception, is the person who goes from guest to active involvement/ownership within a local church without loving relationships. It takes hard work to to integrate and assimilate a guest into a part of the fabric of Bethel Baptist Church.
  2. Assimilate, assimilate, assimilate. Let me ask a few questions: Why do we need to assimilate guests (shouldn’t they seek to become a part of us)? Whose job is it to assimilate guests? How do you/we assimilate guests? When do we assimilate guests?
    Why? The only way to really disciple people is for them to be near enough to us that they trust us and they allow us to teach them.
    Whose job? I would argue that this is primarily the job of the church body. Guests assume a pastor would seek to build a relationship, but when a church member seeks to build rapport and a relationship it takes the local church relationships to a whole new level – a family level.
    When/How do you? One of the primary reasons why we changed the name of our Bible Study Hour to Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) is to help facilitate the assimilation within a larger church. But let us never conclude that assimilation is left to the 9:30am time slot on Sunday morning. We need to be having guests into our homes on a weekly and monthly basis – Friday & Saturday evenings, Sunday lunch, Sunday nights after the evening service, Monday Night Football, breakfast at a diner or coffee at Starbucks.
  3. Think steps, not programs. Have you ever walked away from a conversation with a guest and thought to yourself, “What’s the next spiritual step for that individual and his family?” For some, it’s none other than to come back a second and third time and to be saved. For others, they need to be a part of an Adult Bible Fellowship or maybe even Bethel 101. While still others probably ought to join our church fairly soon.
  4. Recognizing a Maturing Christian. How can one recognize that a guest has come full circle? From first time visitor to actively involved within the local church and maturing in their Christian growth. Here are some ways that you will be able to identify when your job is “done”:
  • baptized, faithfully attending church
  • faithful participant of an ABF
  • soul-conscious
  • active in soul-winning
  • tithing consistently
  • connecting others to ABF
  • involved in a ministry appropriate to their spiritual growth
  • burdened for next generation
  • inspiring others
  • burdened about Christian education

I told you it started with hard work, it continues with hard work and it ends with hard work. Is this possible? Is it really possible to see first-time guests become actively involved within Bethel Baptist? I believe it is and I believe it is because God has commissioned us to do so, which means He will give the strength to see it accomplished.

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