If a brand-new Christian asked you point blank, “So, what do I do next?” what would you say to him? This was exactly the situation in which I found myself the day I met Brandon. Brandon stayed in the back of the room following the large gathering. Someone introduced me saying, “Brandon just came to trust the Lord during a Bible study in my home this week. He lives two doors down from our church building; this is Brandon’s first time ever at a church.” Brandon’s first words to me were these: “What do I do next?”
WOW! Knowing we only had a minute, I knew the conversation would be important. The more I’ve thought about how I responded, the more I think these four “wants” are foundational for every follower of Christ, every leader of a ministry group, and every group – for every church.
Here’s what I said to Brandon:
- “I want you to be part of our WORSHIP every time you can – and bring your friends.” Brandon took me up on this one. He came, and he also brought! His friends were just like him. It took some getting use to having people like Brandon (and his friends) start showing up during the worship experiences at the church. But before long, we realized this was one of many ways God was answering prayers. He was drawing people to Himself, and He was allowing us to see Him at work!
- “I want you to be part of a BIBLE STUDY GROUP where you will learn to love and trust Jesus who you now know as Savior.” At that time, our church really did not have a Bible study group where people who had not grown up in church could relate. So we started one. We enlisted a Bible study leader who had a heart for Brandon and his friends. Brandon said he would not be willing to teach (he never had opened a Bible) but he was glad to invite his friends. And he did. Brandon’s girlfriend had never been to church, but she started coming and helped the new people connect with each other. Before we knew it, we needed to start yet another group – and another. Brandon and his friends were among the adults who came and who helped build the new groups.
- “I want you to find some MINISTRY where you will help someone else. You will actually get more out of it than anyone else.” Brandon came to me within a couple of weeks and indicated he had found something he loved doing (in his case, helping to repair a house in the area). Just so happened, he had some of his friends join him in getting the materials and in doing the repairs alongside some other followers of Christ from the area. Brandon shared his enthusiasm: “You’re right; I got more out of it than I could ever imagine!”
- “I want you to TELL YOUR STORY.” No one needed to put words in his mouth. Brandon started sharing what had happened – and what was beginning to happen to him. And he shared it with his friends (who had no connection with Christ or with the church) as well as with his new friends who were followers of Christ. It became contagious to be around someone who was experiencing how his story was intersecting with God’s story!
These four actions became the basis for what every follower of Christ (starting with me) and every group could do. This is a revitalizing strategy. And it is the starting point for what you get to do through your group.
David Apple teaches an ongoing Bible study group at the church where he serves in Springfield, TN and is an Adult Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, TN. David, married to Karen, is father to two and grandfather to two.