The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” applies very well to Christian ministry.
As a pastor’s wife, I have the opportunity to be familiar with the inner workings of the church—and to participate in discipling Christian women. My husband teaches Bible Institute classes, disciples, counsels, and encourages. He spends many hours with the men of our church, helping them understand how the Bible relates to their everyday lives. We have one-on-one Bible studies, and we also seek to encourage our little flock during the church services.
How does a Christian grow?
Well, first, he must be born again. Jesus said, Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again (John 3:7).
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2). What kind of “milk” do baby Christians need? Look at the verse! It’s the milk of the Word—the Bible! In order to grow, the Bible is the most important element for growth.
It's important for new Christians to start loving the Word, to dig in and see what’s there. Some have difficulties beginning, because the Bible's an unknown book. They need help. That’s what older Christians can do: help new Christians become familiar with the Bible, learn where the books are, learn the basic doctrines. That’s what we mean by the word “discipling.”
The baby Christian reads and studies the Bible. He begins to memorize and meditate on the Word. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psalm 119:9, 11).
His life changes, and his friends notice the huge difference. The Bible begins the work of sanctification in his life. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).
Some baby Christians begin excited about their new lives and, for some reason, they start to cool off. I don’t know if it’s because of discouragement or laziness or another reason, but it often happens.
Sadly, some baby Christians grow very little in the Lord. They are saved, yes, but they’re floundering or even worse, backsliding. They refuse—maybe that’s too strong a word—to stay in the Word so they can grow. They’re spiritually malnourished, and they’re getting skinnier and skinnier. They become spiritually stunted.
How can you prevent spiritual malnutrition from happening to you?
- Eat regular meals. Stay in the Bible. Heed what it says to your heart. Learn to chew slowly and enjoy each spiritual bite.
- Keep a receptive attitude. What can you learn? What does the Bible say about God? What does the Bible say to you?
- Be prepared to obey. Have I learned something that will change how I live? How can I apply this in a practical way? Do I need to put away a sinful habit? Do I need to change how I act towards others? Does the Bible give me direction for the next step?
How can you help new Christians?
- Encourage them!
- Share what you’re learning from the Word. Be friendly and loving.
- Encourage them to be faithful to church services.
- Be open to them about your own spiritual growth. (We’re all growing!)
You can’t make a horse drink, but you can lead him to water.
You can’t make a baby Christian grow in the Lord, but you can encourage him to get into his Bible for himself.
Let’s encourage someone today!