Today, God manifests His presence and plan to draw others to Him through the Body of Christ—the community of believers. Because of this, God commands us to meet with one another (see Heb. 10:24–25).
One of the primary things to discuss with a new believer is the importance of fellowship with other believers in a local church. They need the church for corporate worship, training, fellowship, encouragement, spiritual growth, and a place to serve. The church needs them as well. New believers bring a sense of vitality to the church just as new children bring it to a family.
Here are some suggestions on how to talk to new believers about the local church:
1. Give them guidelines as to what to look for in a church. The Bible gives us a picture as to what the church should look like. A healthy church will exhibit six characteristics:
- It believes that a person receives the free gift of eternal life through faith in Christ alone (John 3:16; 5:24).
- It believes that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
- It has leaders who are spiritually mature in their relationships with God and others (1 Tim. 3:1–13).
- It has members who display genuine love toward people (John 13:34).
- It is committed to helping believers grow spiritually and introducing unbelievers to Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19–20).
- It comes together to teach and encourage its members to love and serve others (Heb. 10:24–25).
2. Assure them that there is no perfect church. Billy Graham said, “If you find a perfect church, do not join it. You will spoil it.” Remind them that a church is not made up of perfect people but of broken people who trust in a perfect Savior. God designed the church to be a place of spiritual healing, encouragement, learning, and growth.
3. Invite them to your church. If you can possibly do so, set a date and time and take them to church yourself. If you cannot, find someone else to take them. If you cannot do either, recommend they find a Bible-believing church. If they choose to join another church in your area, celebrate their decision. Your ultimate motive should not be to recruit them for your church but to help them discern where God would have them serve and fellowship.
4. If they do join your church, do not rush them into multiple activities or leadership positions prematurely. The New Testament warns us not to make new converts leaders (see 1 Tim. 3:6). Their first year in the faith is vital as they learn more about the Lord and the joys of following Him. Help them build a proper foundation of prayer, Bible study, and learning to abide in Christ. Too much activity can prevent new believers from growing in a healthy way. Teach them the joy of serving, but help them learn balance as well.
5. Remember, your goal is not simply to get them to attend church but to help them become like Christ. Church membership is part of the means, but not the end. Your goal is to see them grow to maturity so that they learn how to trust the Lord in every area of their life.