It would be good at the outset to define clearly the meaning of the phrase, follow-up. Because I am unfamiliar with the background of every reader and the meanings he or she applies to terms, it will be necessary for us to establish some common ground in the area of definitions. For the purpose of this chapter, follow-up is defined as follows:
Follow-up is the spiritual work of grounding a new believer in the faith.
This is a generally accepted definition by most Christians I have consulted. The following verses are an example of the emphasis the Bible places on this work of building new believers in the faith.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col 1:28-29)
They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. (Acts 14:21-22)
In light of the biblical emphasis on follow-up, the serious Christian has no choice but to do it. The only question that requires discussion is how follow-up can be accomplished most effectively.
An explanation of the basic definition already given is necessary to clarify the content of this term. The spiritual grounding of a new believer in the faith will be the product of both training and teaching. There are certain basic spiritual truths a new Christian must know and apply to become rooted and really begin to grow in Christ. The following is a list of five basic areas of spiritual truth involved in an effective follow-up program:
- Helping the new believer receive assurance of salvation and acceptance with
- Helping the new believer develop a consistent devotional
- Helping the new believer understand the basics of abundant Christian
- Helping the new believer become integrated into the life of a local
- Helping the new believer learn to share his faith with
Another helpful explanation of follow-up is that it is the assuming of a parent-child relationship with anew believer. This is in the spiritual realm, of course. The Bible describes the new believer as a spiritual baby (John 3:3; 1 Cor. 3:1; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 2:12-14). This description is an accurate one. Love, protection, food, and training are vital spiritual needs that correspond to the physical needs of a baby. As in the physical realm, a new Christian needs a spiritual parent who will watch over him and help provide these necessities during the early stages of his Christian development.
The work of follow-up in a new Christian’s life may be better understood by examining the three basic forms it takes: Sunday school group, personal study, and personal follow-up.
Group follow-up is that nurturing of the new believer accomplished by the local church or fellowship group. This kind of follow-up takes the form of structured instruction in the basics of doctrine through the use of a new believer’s class, Sunday school, or similar program. It also includes the development of committed relationships between the new Christian and the body of believers with whom he associates. The second form, personal study, includes those activities the new Christian engages in on his own. This includes such things as reading books and other literature and personal Bible study. On both the group and personal study levels of follow-up there is a good amount of information available to the average pastor and layman to help implement these aspects of a total follow-up ministry. Unfortunately in the past the same could not be said for the third form, personal follow-up, which is the major emphasis of this chapter and can be defined as follows:
Personal follow-up is the assuming of a one-to-one relationship by a mature believer with a new Christian for the purpose of aiding the new Christian’s nurture and growth.
This type of follow-up, by far the most effective, as I will seek to show, is the most neglected form among Christians today.
My experience has shown two major causes for failure in personal follow-up. First, many Christians are unclear as to what needs to be done to help ground a new believer in the faith. In some cases, the Christian has the general knowledge of what to say but is unsure of how to say it. This accounts for much ineffectiveness. Second, many Christians are unwilling to give the large amount of time that effective personal follow-up requires. Although there are other reasons for the lack of personal follow-up work by Christians, I will focus on these two.
– From “Dynamics of Personal Follow-up,” Gary Kuhne. Used by permission of the author.