If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, we would love to help you in the next steps in your new life. What you have to understand is that being a Christian is not just a one-time event, when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and that is it. The Bible teaches us, that decision is just the beginning of a life-long journey–a journey of learning, and serving, and growing more and more like Christ everyday.
While there is a general route you may follow in becoming more like Christ, such as gathering regularly with fellow Christians, there is no exact plan spelled out in the Bible regarding your next steps. The route you take may be the same as some Christians’ but different from others’. Your particular route will be something you will discover as you grow as a Christian and mature in your relationship with God.
What you will find is that the route God will take you on will be tailored for you, but there will be a few aspects that will be the same as other Christians’. Here are some suggestions you can focus on now that you are moving forward as a Christian.
Study God’s Word: the Bible.
Find a Bible and start reading it. God’s Word, otherwise known as the Bible, is a manual for life. When we read and study God’s Word we find direction and strength to our lives.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
There are quite a few different translations in print, and it might be overwhelming to pick a good one. (There are more than 450 English translations of the Bible.) Find one that is easy for you to read and comprehend what it is saying. Some of the most commonly preferred, easy-to-read translations today include the Common English Version (CEV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New International Version (NIV), or the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). There are a few translations that some Christians will say are “the only true translation of the Bible,” but the truth is, unless you are reading the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) manuscripts, all are just translations from the manuscripts the translators had at the time. The suggestions above are not meant to start a debate about which translation is the best, but just to give you, as a new Christian, some good places to start.
If you decide to purchase your first Bible, purchase what is called a study Bible. These Bibles add notes and references in the footnotes and margins that will help clarify some of the things you will read. They are great for explaining terms and definitions and linking the Old and New Testaments together.
Find a time to read your Bible every day so you can get to know Christ better. The best place to start reading for a new Christian is one of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. These books are at the beginning of the New Testament, which is about 3/4 of the way through the Bible. Each book tells us about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but each gospel was written to appeal to a certain audience and you may find that one speaks to you more than the others. The following are some general descriptions about each of the four gospels to help you in choosing which one to start with:
- Matthew was written for people familiar with the Old Testament. Matthew takes great care to show how Jesus fulfills the prophecies made about him earlier in the Bible – especially focusing on Jesus’ role as the Messiah.
- Mark is the shortest of the gospels and was written for a wide audience and it is all about Jesus’ actions in this world. This gospel focuses on Jesus’ role as the suffering servant and Son of God.
- Luke is the longest of the four gospels. It is a very historical, journalistic, detailed account of the episodes in Jesus’ life arranged in chronological order.
- John was written to show the miracles of Jesus — miracles that emphasize the divine nature of Jesus Christ.
You should also get involved in a Bible study with other Christians. Having others, who may be more mature than you in their faith and more knowledgeable of the Bible, can help you as you begin to study the scriptures. Sometimes questions arise while you are reading God’s Word. Other Christians can help you understand through their experiences and knowledge.
Spend Time in Prayer
Find a time to talk to God in prayer every day.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
You should start finding regular time to communicate with God. Let Him hear you lift up your desires and needs.
This communication needs to be two-way, with us both speaking and listening. You cannot just go to God in prayer and be the one who says everything. You have to learn to listen to God, because He will talk to you. If prayer is a means of communication with God, it follows that much of our praying ought to involve listening for what God has to say.
But one of the things we do have to understand is that there are many ways to pray. I have heard some Christians say there is only one way to pray. Traditional forms of prayer, whether corporate or personal, are a treasure we cannot do without. But there are many ways we can approach God in prayer, some which may be familiar to us and others not so much. It might be good for you to just try something new. Scripture tells us that the image of God is in us, an image which no other living thing possesses. Our imagination is a unique gift, and if we let it, it can enliven our conversations with God.
Find a Church.
You will need to get involved in a Bible-based community of faith, otherwise known as a church.
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Christianity is not meant to be a solitary religion. We cannot easily walk this walk alone. It is important to be around other people who choose to follow Christ. Being in fellowship with other Christians is vital, especially when you are a new believer.
If you are looking for a church home, we would welcome you here at Varnell United Methodist Church. Regardless of where you end up, find a church that appeals to you, a place where you feel like you can grow as a Christian and you can experience all God has to offer you.
Get Involved in Ministry.
Find a place where you can serve God.
“And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’” Mark 16:15
Christianity is not a spectator sport! Jesus calls each of us to be a servant, and we must seek ways in which we can do just that. What you will hopefully discover is that God has given you special abilities and connections (that others do not have) that you can use to further His Kingdom.
One of the best ways to serve God is by simply telling others about what Jesus has done for you. You might think that because you are new to Christianity, you should wait and build up your knowledge and expertise before you do anything. What you will read in the book of Acts is the apostle Paul did not sit around very long after he got saved before he started to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus. You will learn by doing, not just by head knowledge.
There are many different things you can do to get involved in ministry. Get involved in a food pantry, join a group who is involved with helping repair people’s homes, help deliver food to homebound persons, volunteer at a boys and girls club, visit people in the hospital or jail, and there are many, many other options. What you will find is that as you serve in these places you will be given the opportunity to share Christ with others.
There is something about going out of our comfort zones and being in service that strengthens our faith. When you go out and share God’s love with someone else, it is returned to you multiplied. It does not make sense by worldly standards, but when you go out and serve God, in whatever fashion, it always seems that you get more than you give. It just defies reason, but experiencing this does make your faith in God much stronger.
All scriptures quoted are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.