HOW TO DISCIPLE NEW BELIEVERS IN MISSIONS
Have you ever wondered how early is too early to bring a new Christian with you when you do missions? First of all, your concerns and questions are normal. Will she understand? How much should I let her take on? What kind of mission trip or experience is appropriate for her first one? All these questions should be considered as you bring a new believer along with you in a local or international missions opportunity.
WHERE TO START
The beginning of a believer’s journey is a perfect time to bring her alongside you as you do missions. It should be an integral part of discipleship. To give her a good foundation in missions, start by laying the groundwork with God’s Word. First of all, rooting her in Scripture allows her to grow deeper in her unshakable pursuit of Jesus. Secondly, believers (old and new alike) need a biblical foundation for doing missions. We need to train our eyes to read the Bible with a lens that can trace God’s plan for bringing people from all tribes and tongues into His kingdom. Seeing God’s heart for the nations in Scripture begins to instill in believers that same passion for making Him known. Facts about unreached people groups in a specific country are important and necessary. The knowledge of unreached peoples ignites the desire to make God known among the nations. This kind of discipleship can take place before and during a new believer’s first mission trip.
Sometimes, new Christians bubble over with joy and excitement in their recent transformation from darkness into light. Some want to go around telling anyone and everyone who will listen about Jesus. Others may be a bit more reserved. Now that they have established a relationship with Christ, encourage them to share their experience of salvation. Guide them to use simple, everyday vocabulary for sharing their testimonies of coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior. As you practice with them, you are preparing them to be on mission with you and your group.
As you encourage new believers to be on mission with God, gauge their comfort and gifts. Some are gifted in working with children or extending mercy after a natural disaster. Some may be bold in knocking on strangers’ doors, while others thrive in one-on-one relationships. Don’t assume everyone will have the same desire to take the lead, but don’t be afraid to encourage her to speak.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Any missions opportunity should start with an explanation of what new believers can expect. Orient them with information about where you are going and what you’ll be doing. Provide opportunities during the experience to ask questions and talk about what is happening. After the missions experience is over, debrief with them about what they learned and what they can take back to their schools, homes, or jobs. Encourage them to continue learning about missions and praying about their involvement. Pray with them and model prayer for them.
One of the biggest encouragements for bringing new believers along with you in missions is not to wait. Discipleship is for all ages and stages. There’s no better time to start mentoring and discipling believers in missions than the beginning of their faith journey. Who knows what our great God has in store?
Ena Redding* lives in the Middle East, where she combines her love for writing and making Christ known. She blogs at EnaRedding.com.