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Home » All Resources » Articles on Preaching » Brian Mavis, 10 Things Every New Believer Should Know
"I have been a Christian for over twenty-five years, and God has had to redirect me on multiple things because of what I mistakenly believed early on about being a Christian. And it is better to learn sooner than later."

Recently, a twenty-something friend became a Christian, and he asked me, “What are the top ten things for a new Christian to learn within the first year?” (Apparently, he is a David Letterman fan.)

This is a wise question because if you are off by a few degrees at the start and you travel that path for a while, you will be off by miles later. I know that from experience. I have been a Christian for over twenty-five years, and God has had to redirect me on multiple things because of what I mistakenly believed early on about being a Christian. And it is better to learn sooner than later.

So here are the ten things (not necessarily in any particular order) that I thought my new Christian friend should sink down deep into his heart, head, and hands as he travels his first year with Jesus:

  1. The one thing that the Bible emphasizes more than us loving God and people is that God loves us. He loves us first and most. God isn’t in heaven plucking a daisy saying, “I love you” when you obey and “I love you not” when you sin. He cannot not love you (Rom. 5:8 and 1 Jn. 4:16).
  2. Your motivation for and the purpose of learning, serving, worshipping, giving, reaching, reading, praying, etc. is to grow relationally more in love with God and people (Mt. 22:36-40).
  3. You not only are saved by grace, but you grow by it, too. A common trap for new and growing Christians is trying to clean up their lives without God’s help. This is a false equation: The less you sin = the less you need God’s grace. You can’t sin less and love more without the strength of God’s grace.
  4. Don’t trample all over the Great Commandment (love God, love people) trying to obey the Great Commission (go and make disciples). New and enthusiastic Christians often do this. Instead, lead people to Jesus by loving people to Jesus (1 Cor. 13:1-3). If they ask you why live the way you do, humbly and simply share with them why you put your hope in Jesus.
  5. Love your neighbors—your literal neighbors—the ones you have, not the ones you wish you had. Do this because you are a Christian, not just because you want them to be Christians.
  6. Focus on Jesus, His cross, His resurrection, and His kingdom. When you confessed Jesus as the living Lord and Messiah, you never said—and will never say—anything more meaningful. Jesus is God with skin. No other “religious leader” (Moses, Buddha, Muhammad) is His equal. They were mere men; Jesus is God who became a man. He is the center and circumference—the hub and rim of all of life and creation. All of the world’s greatest gifts—love, life, truth, grace, etc.—have a name. Jesus.
  7. God cares about your whole life, not just your “spiritual life.” It is a mistake to think that God is only concerned about a section of your life called “your soul” or “your spirit.” God cares about and is to be Lord of all of your life—personal, emotional, social, familial, financial, physical, vocational, sexual, intellectual, and so on.
  8. Love other Christians who go to different churches (or no church at all) and who aren’t like you. Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body. Strive for unity in the body of Christ by praying humbly and thankfully for other Christians.
  9. Pray with your Bible open. There are many different spiritual exercises (fasting, solitude, serving, etc.), but the two most important ones are communicating and communing with God through prayer and listening to and learning about God through the Scriptures. Prayerfully read about Jesus (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Prayerfully read about the beginning of the church in a book called Acts. Prayerfully read some letters written by Christians for Christians—some good ones to start with are James, Philippians, and Ephesians.
  10. Find a Christian mentor. You will need help and encouragement in this journey with Jesus. Ask an older Christian (of the same gender as you) to mentor you. Look for someone who displays the attitudes and actions that were described above. Be a blessing to them in return.

Christianity is not a list, but a life; it’s not a chart, but a charter. But new Christians will learn new things. Some of those things will be true but not important. Some things will be off by degrees that can lead them astray. Other things will be just plain wrong. Help new Christians learn to follow Jesus by being their best at what matters most to Him.


Brian Mavis

Brian Mavis leads Community Transformation at LifeBridge Christian Church, and he helps other churches in their missional efforts in his role as the Executive Director of the Externally Focused Network (www.externallyfocusednetwork.com). Brian also leads a new website designed to challenge young Christian risk-takers (www.MoreAtStake.com). Brian was the first G.M. of SermonCentral.com from 2000-2005. He has written curriculum for campaigns including Bono’s “One Sabbath Campaign”, Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”; World Vision’s “Faith in Action” and “The Hole in Our Gospel.” God's specific call on his life is to strengthen other Christian leaders.

Rev. William Sandstedt
July 10, 2011
Interesting article, although I would disagree somewhat. I think that to many young believers even older believersfor that matter don't have a solid basic understanding or grouning of what the CROSS is all about ! What was accomplished for us,what we have in and throughit. Its the Death and Ressurrection togerther Romans 6 the whole chapter is powerfull. If one underderstands what Shaul(Paul)says there we would do well in teaching young or old believers. I get excited everytime just reading that scripture , what insight,motivation,encouragement,ect. Blessed Be He. [delete comment]
Dear Doug, I did not write this article but let me try to clarify that point. There are many different denominations (doctrines) not because people want to do their own thing but because people prayerfully go to the scripture and honestly interpret it differently. What you may call a doctrine of men usually is someone who has a different interpretation of Scripture and may view what you are doing as a doctrine of men. Im' sure you are aware that ecumenical churches are very doctrinally different from Calvinistic churches. We had a discussion a few days ago on women in ministry. There was much disagreement but each side used Scripture to support their position. There will probably never be universal agreement on that issue and many others. What we have in common is "Jesus is the way". I grew up in a brand that says it not only was the best but the only true brand. We considered everyone but us unsaved. Sadly that breeds a prideful and judgmental attitude. We all need to realize that God has a lot of grace if we are truly trying to follow HIM, whatever brand we are. Blessings to all. [delete comment]
Dear Doug, I did not write this article but let me try to clarify that point. There are many different denominations (doctrines) not because people want to do their own thing but because people prayerfully go to the scripture and honestly interpret it differently. What you may call a doctrine of men usually is someone who has a different interpretation of Scripture and may view what you are doing as a doctrine of men. Im' sure you are aware that ecumenical churches are very doctrinally different from Calvinistic churches. We had a discussion a few days ago on women in ministry. There was much disagreement but each side used Scripture to support their position. There will probably never be universal agreement on that issue and many others. What we have in common is "Jesus is the way". I grew up in a brand that says it not only was the best but the only true brand. We considered everyone but us unsaved. Sadly that breeds a prideful and judgmental attitude. We all need to realize that God has a lot of grace if we are truly trying to follow HIM, whatever brand we are. Blessings to all. [delete comment]
Leon Shipman Sr.
July 9, 2011
Thanks Bro. Brian, your top ten creates a chance for good discussion among some of my friends. [delete comment]
I agree with most of your thoughts. But concerning "other Christians": I agree that we are to show love to everyone. However, are you saying those who teach and follow the doctrines of men instead of Christ's teachings and the apostles' doctrine, who we are told in Scripture to be on guard for, are Christians in the saved sense of the word? [delete comment]
Pastor Sung Kim
July 9, 2011
Excellent, Brother Brian. I plan on employing this with some new Christians in my church right away. Thank you! [delete comment]

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