The question I’m answering here is: what are the 5 essential things every new believer needs to grow in their walk with Jesus. Most leaders will answer this differently because their skills, gifts and experiences are different. What does this list tell you about my skills, gifts and experiences?
1. Community. The older I get, the more I realize that my faith is built on the faith of those in my family, church and key relationships. I love church, and when I think of the ideal church, it exists in my childhood – where I was known, nurtured, disciplined and restored by friends who became aunties, uncles, lifelong contacts and more. Our value of community is supported by hospitality (always having people in our home) and adoption (expanding our family).
2. Bible. I’m so thankful for the love of scripture that my church family gave me as I grew up. in grade 6, at 11 years old, I decided that I would read my Bible every night before I went to sleep – and I kept this up through at least grade 11. Many times I remember waking up at 2AM and turning off my light, closing my Bible and wiping the drool off of my notebook – but I kept this up. The Lord taught me his Word and formed my life.
3. Holy Spirit. Though I have always relied on God’s Spirit to help and guide me, it wasn’t until I was 32 years old that the Holy Spirit began to encounter me in more outward ways. As a young church planter I was preparing Alpha Course talks on the Holy Spirit and listening to Sandy Millar talk about, “How To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit,” when I agreed with the Holy Spirit that I needed the gift of tongues. So right there, in Starbucks, the Holy Spirit filled me with faith and I received this gift – it’s been wonderful.
I believe that the first thing a new believer in Christ Jesus needs is instruction on and an experience of living with the Holy Spirit. The community of the church needs to be a community of Holy Spirit led people (or at least we’re growing to be this kind of people) and the Holy Spirit is the power source to live the lives we want to live.
4. Worshipping in prayer. In high school my church held a 24 hour prayer meeting and I decided that I would stay all night (I do remember that one hour went very quickly, and I did drink my first 6 cups of coffee that night). This began to mark my life as a prayer person. At university, I valued the prayer meetings that we held – we did lots of outreach and evangelism, but Tuesday 7AM prayer meetings with Nathan were defining and life giving.
In 2004 I began to learn to integrate my love and understanding of Scripture with my love and desire to pray. It was with Brian, who is now my pastor, while leading worship and prayer meetings every Sunday evening, who showed us how to pray the Bible.
5. Kingdom announcement (Outward focus). Was it Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “The church is the only organization that does not exist primarily for the benefit of its members.”? And Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Good News at all times, and if necessary, use words.”?
I firmly hold that every believer (and not just young, enthusiastic, don’t know any better, evangelists) are commissioned by Jesus to announce that God’s kingdom is near. If we step back to #2, the Bible says it (Jesus did, his disciples did, the followers did and Jesus told his disciples to tell us to do it). Sharing our faith is terrifying, so we rely on the Holy Spirit (#3) to help us and to give us strategies. It’s much easier and likely that we’ll do this with friends (#1). The goal of sharing the Good News is so that others can enjoy the activities of worship and prayer (#4) (so we ought to find prayer and worship enjoyable).
Now I don’t think that this is a complete or sufficient list, but I think that if I was to spend my life teaching new believers to live with these values that I’d have done my job.
And you? What 5 Keys would you teach a new follower of Jesus?