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Summary: The essential needs of new converts are discussed using this account describing the events that immediately followed the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

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SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”

TEXT: ACTS 9:19-31

TITLE: “THE NEEDS OF A NEW CHRISTIAN”

INTRODUCTION: A. One criticism of the church-at-large is that when we produce new Christians, we

“dunk ‘em and drop ‘em”

--I personally believe that criticism is a legitimate criticism

1. When you bring a new baby home from the hospital, you don’t say to the baby:

“Here’s the house. This is the living room. The kitchen is in there. The

bathrooms’ down the hall on the right and your bedroom is across the hall from the

bathroom. We’re tired so we’re going to bed. Breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. so don’t

forget to set the alarm. We both have to go to work tomorrow so you’ll have to find

something to do until we get home. The TV Guide and remote control is on the

coffee table. You’re on your own. Make yourself a home.”

2. Would that newborn grow to maturity?

--Definitely not! But that’s what we tend to do with babes in Christ. We expect

them to fend for themselves.

B. There is some very clear biblical teaching on the necessity of nurturing new

Christians:

1. Eph. 4:13 tells us that God’s purpose is that… “we all reach unity in the faith and

in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole

measure of the fullness of Christ.

2. Col. 1:28 – “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all

wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

--“perfect” in Greek means “complete; lacking nothing; mature”

3. Mt. 28:19-20 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them

to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to

the very end of the age."

4. The process of nurturing new Christians goes by a lot of different names:

discipling, shepherding, assimilating, mentoring

--whatever Christian “buzz word” you want to use, Jesus said, “Just do it!”

5. If we’re baptizing people yet fail to nurture them, we’ve failed to meet the

requirements of obedience to the Great Commission.

C. The average congregation loses 50% of its new converts within a five year period

--The primary reason for high figure is because of the failure to nurture

1. Some just fall through the cracks

--We need to plug up those cracks as best we can

2. Others come and remain on the fringe

--Only because we have failed to teach our people that we are “saved to serve”

3. I would say with confidence that most of you could quickly visualize the face of

those who were onetime active members of our congregation at one time but have

drifted away

a. Some of them to the very lifestyles they had before

b. Sad thing is that most of the time we just stand around with our hands in our

pockets and just can’t begin to figure out how it happened

4. I will make a qualification to what I’ve just been saying

--It’s not always the church’s fault

a. Parable of the Sower in Mt. 13

--Not going to read but tell you one of the things Jesus says

b. He said that some of the seed would fall into soil and begin to grow but would be

choked out by the weeds and the thorns

--Jesus said those weeds and thorns represent the cares, riches, and pleasures of

this life.

c. However, it’s still the responsibility of the church to weed the garden and to

fertilize the soil to ensure the best growing environment possible.

D. Jesus gives us an opportunity to receive great blessings from being involved in

meeting the needs of new Christians and helping them to grow into maturity.

1. Jesus told His followers: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re ripe for

harvest.”

2. There is preparation work involved in receiving the harvest

--Too many times, we sing Bringing In the Sheaves but don’t have any procedure

for handling the harvest and wouldn’t know what to do with it if it were delivered

to our doorstep

E. There is a familiar sequence of events that is played out time and again in churches.:

1. People are attracted to churches

2. They are initially welcomed and wooed

3. They find no place to use their gifts

4. Authentic relationships don’t happen

5. They’re soon take for granted

6. Their spiritual growth stagnates

7. They leave

F. I want us to look at four basic needs of new Christians

I. First Need: ACCEPTANCE

A. New and immature Christians need the acceptance of fellowship of other Christians who care about them

1. They need to experience real love and encouragement

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