Establishing New Converts

Paying careful attention to the care of souls.

By ROSE E. BOOSE, Bible Worker, Santa Ana, California

In recent months I watched with interest the growth of a church edifice. For weeks and months, careful labor and painstaking effort were put into the foundation and framework of the building. Into the foundation, which was laid deeply in the ground, went cement and rock and steel. Into the framework went heavy timbers, steel girders, studding-s well anchored, floor joists braced by thousands of small pieces of lumber which were interwoven, as it were, into that structure. The electric wires were incased in metal tubes for safety's sake. Bolts and nails—thousands of them—were put in sure places. The workmen spent weeks and months on this foundational part of the building. They know that the foundation was well laid, the framework solid, and that it will stand the strain to which it will be subjected in the future. None of their work is visible now. The people who come and go through the doors of this beautiful building never give a thought to the foundation work.

Was it not a waste of time to spend so many months on work which no one will see or think about? By no means. The builders saw the finished building before the foundation was laid. They knew it would pay to give the foundation the most exacting attention, regard­less of the time needed for such work.

Should work for souls be done with less care? Let the early instruction of the new be­liever be such as will enable him to endure trials and opposition, to resist temptation of the enemy, whatever it may be, and, with a faith firmly established upon the word of God, stand unmoved.

The apostle Paul wrote some timely admoni­tion to the church at Colossae : "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught." Col. 2:6, 7. This admonition is needed today as much as then. Let us look at this text in reverse: (I) taught; (2) stab­lished in the faith; (3) built up in Him; (4) rooted in Him; with the result that we walk in Him and are "complete in Him." Verse io. Here we have a number of definite steps in the experience of the Christian, which, if heeded, will produce a natural growth, and de­velop into a full and complete fellowship with Christ.

1. Thorough Instruction.----We have just seen the importance of foundations. "As ye have been taught," is the foundation for the Christian experience. The initial instruction of the new believer is of primary importance. Without a thorough knowledge of the word of God, it is impossible to become "stab­lished in the faith." One writer has said: "When you tell a man to believe, give him something to believe. . . . Faith must have a foundation. Faith cannot float in thin air."

Those of us who have been long in the way know that we have a "Thus saith the Lord" for every point of doctrine, but sometimes new believers are brought into the church without knowing for themselves a "Thus saith the Lord" for the teachings and practices of the church. The reason for this is that they have not been well taught in the beginning. When the foundation is poorly laid, it is no wonder that so many become discouraged and fall out by the way before they grow into mature Christians and find their place in the church of God.

2. "Stablished in the Faith." The faith here mentioned is that system of doctrine given by revelation of God. The word "doctrine" means, according to -Webster, "That which is taught ; . . . a principle, . . . or the body of principles, in any branch of knowledge."

There is but one everlasting gospel, and it has been given to man by divine revelation in a system of doctrine. The doctrine of Jesus Christ is as unchangeable as its Author. In this doctrine the new believer must be thoroughly instructed. The teachings which constitute the message for today are the frame­work for substantial Christian experience, and become the surety of faith. At this point Christian experience begins, but it does not end there. The doctrine of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour from sin ; the need of confessing and forsaking sin; accepting forgiveness and justification from sin, by faith; baptism and church membership—these phases of the mes­sage are essential to an intelligent beginning of the new life in Christ.

Let it be understood that a formal knowledge of doctrine, however correct it may be, • will not take the place of the heart experience of the new birth. Yet, again, we are told that we are "born again, . . . by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." The evidence of the new birth is a glad and willing conformity to the revealed will of God in all things. The will of God is given us in His word. So again, emphasis must be laid on faithful teaching of the Word.

3, 4. "Rooted and Built Up in Him." When the new believer is baptized into the church, he must be rooted and built up into a fruit-bearing tree. He should be taught the his­tory of the church into which he has come. He should know the toil and sacrifice of the early believers in this message, in order that he may enter into a similar covenant of sac­rifice with God for the finishing of the work which they so nobly began. He should be taught the principles of organization, and the workings of the church through its various lines of endeavor. In this manner he will understand that every avenue of service is es­tablished for one purpose, that of proclaiming the third angel's message to all the world in this generation.

The providential leadings of the Lord, through the Spirit of prophecy for the develop­ment of our health and educational work, as well as the opening of mission fields, should be taught. In knowing the background and reason for our strong program, he will be bet­ter able to find joy in co-operating in service with the church body.

The new member should be rooted in the Sabbath school. As a rule, this can best be done by placing him in a class that is taught by some lay member. Of course the class and the teacher must be carefully selected. In this manner, new friendships are formed, and new attachments made, which will remain after the worker is transferred to another field of service. When at all possible the new member should be rooted in the prayer meetings of the church. The worker can do much by his own attitude to make the prayer meeting a desir­able place to go. When one comes to the prayer meeting with a glad heart, he will be blessed.

The new member must be rooted in some line of service in the church. If musical talent is his, it should be put to use. He will then feel that lie is contributing to the interest of the services, and it will be a factor in binding him to the church. To the women, the Dorcas Society is an appealing field for service. In contributing to the activities of the church, all will have a deeper interest in it. Here also new friendships will be formed with members of the church, which will prove a blessing. One source of great disappointment to new members is their loss of former friends and lack of new associates. This situation must be tactfully bridged by those responsible for the establishing of new members.

A new convert is not rooted and built up in new surroundings in a day or a week. It takes time to see this achieved, and failure here is responsible, to a large degree, for the loss of so many members in the first year after they come into the church. Careful study should be given to establishing the new members in the church family, caring for them till they are ,'rooted and built up" in Christ and in fellow­ship with other believers.

"If any man's work abide which lie bath built thereupon, lie shall receive a reward." 1Cor. 3:14.


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By ROSE E. BOOSE, Bible Worker, Santa Ana, California

June 1941

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